Friday, June 15, 2012

Promising Babies Take Their First Steps

With the Triple Crown contests in the history books, I turn my attention to the new crop of two year olds taking the first baby steps of their careers. The first major stakes competition for the most precocious of juveniles, the Cinderella and Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes, will be held in California on June 16.

Willard Proctor Memorial

Last year’s Willard Proctor Memorial champ J P’s Gusto, was one of the better juveniles in California, winning not only the Willard Proctor, but also the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G-3), Best Pal (G-2) and Del Mar Futurity (G-1).

This year, two sons of the Brazilian-bred Redattore will square off against six other hopefuls in the Willard Proctor. Unlike their more accomplished cohorts in the Cinderella, the youngsters have only a single start under their girths.

The first son of Redattore RUN TO GROUND (Redattore - Serena's Echo, by Swiss Yodeler) led through moderate fractions but was overcome in his debut, beaten only a length. His dam was unplaced in her only career start, but she’s a full sister to 2006 Champion Sprinter Thor’s Echo. Run to Ground is her first foal.

JUST CALL ME AL (Redattore - Alarcity, by Allen's Prospect) won his debut by 1 ¾ lengths. He’s a half-brother to a juvenile stakes placed runner. There isn’t an abundance of blacktype in his distaff family, although his dam is a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning veteran Flaming Emperor, who started 90 times in his career.

LOVMEISTER (Nineeleven - Walk West, by West by West) won his debut by ½ length over Run to Ground, who finished in fourth. Lovmeister’s dam won once in 22 tries. There isn’t much blacktype in the first few generations of his female family, but the stakes veteran Buckle Down Ben is part of this distaff line.

AMARISH (Scat Daddy - Issues, by Awesome Again) won his maiden impressively by over seven lengths against Moreno’s Mine, getting 4 ½ furlongs in a sharp :50.98. By the sensational young sire Scat Daddy, Amarish has the pedigree to improve with distance. His first three dams are stakes placed runners and he descends from the family of Champion Juvenile Filly Smart Angle and multiple graded stakes winner Smarten, sire of the top sire Smart Strike.

In the same race, MORENO'S MINE (Mineshaft - Fi, by Langfuhr) was third, beaten out for second place by a nose. His full sister won once in five attempts. Their dam went 1 for 10 in her career and she’s a half-sister to a listed stakes winner.

K COURT (Doneraile Court - Olivia K, by Smokester) zipped 2 furlongs in :22.12 in his debut and showed his determination to win by a head from between horses. His immediate female family is lightly raced with no blacktype. K Court has been working strongly, including a recent six furlong bullet in 1:12.40.

UNDRAFTED (Purim - French Jeannette, by French Deputy) defeated a full field of 12 maidens at Keeneland by three lengths, getting four furlongs in a very swift :50.74. The second and third place finishers in that race came back to win. Undrafted’s dam was a decent allowance class racemare who hit the board 11 of 18 starts. There’s no blacktype in Undrafted’s first two distaff generations, but his third dam Native Fancy won the Hollywood Lassie (G-2) and Sorrento as a juvenile.

FOREST BOY (Forestry - Belvedere Miss, by Pleasant Colony) is expected to scratch in favor of a maiden race next week.



Track bias: 74% of sprints have been won by pace setters/pressers with 21% going wire-to-wire.

The last five winners of the Willard Proctor were either pace pressers or mid-pack runners. Like the fillies in the Cinderella, the front runners don’t fare well.

On paper, Undrafted and Amarish appear to be the fastest colts in the race. Amarish has successfully sat off the pace and won, so we’ll give him the nod to win. Loveminster was off slow, but got up to win his debut. The second place horse came back to win. Just Call Me Al had a sharp debut and leading jockey Rafael Bejarano returns for the ride.

#6 Amarish

#8 Undrafted

#7 Just Call Me Al

#1 Loveminster – longshot pick

Cinderella Stakes

The Cinderella Stakes was initially held in 1950. In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was sporadically contested, but the race has been consistently run since 2000. In the last ten years, more than half of the winners continued on to win other stakes races throughout their careers. Two, Golden Ballet and River’s Prayer, became Grade One winners. Additionally, fillies that have placed in the Cinderella have also developed into stakes runners, including the Test and Acorn Stakes heroine, Champagne D’Oro. Last year’s winner Killer Graces also won the Landaluce Stakes and later finished second to Willa B Awesome in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G-2) as a three year old. Killer Graces beat Willa B Awesome in the Cinderella.

This year, three fillies by Willa B Awesome’s sire Awesome Gambler square off in the Cinderella along with six other youngsters. Two of them, Awesome Annie and Awe' Some Kitten already have two starts under their girths.

AWESOME ANNIE (Awesome Gambler - Cars and Cigars, by Mane Minister) has finished second in both starts, first against Unusual Way then against Tilde. Awesome Annie’s pedigree indicates that she should improve with racing and distance. Although none of her half siblings own any blacktype, Awesome Annie’s dam retired with a 4-2-1 race record and placed in a listed sprint.

AWE' SOME KITTEN (Awesome Gambler - Run Kitty Run, by Sir Cat) beat state-bred maidens in her second start. She has no blacktype in her first two generations, but her third dam is a French Group 3 winner. Awe' Some Kitten has strong turf influences on her distaff side so we may see her on the lawn later in her career.

AWE GOLLY MOLLY (Awesome Gambler - Molly's Gone, by All Gone) was up in time in her debut to beat state-bred maidens, including Awe' Some Kitten. Awe Golly Molly is a half sister to a Korean stakes winner. Like the other Awesome Gambler progeny, she’ll appreciate a little more distance.

Shipping in for top juvenile trainer Wesley Ward, EMOTIONAL KITTEN (Kitten's Joy - Silent Emotion, by Ghazi) was no competition for Richiescowgirl over the Arlington Park Polytrack last month, as that rival beat Emotional Kitten by five lengths. Emotional Kitten is a ¾ sister to the multiple stakes winning turf miler Unspoken Word. Emotional Kitten’s full siblings Keith’s Kitten and Silent Joy won only once in multiple starts.

MISS EMPIRE (Empire Maker - Miss Excitement, by Rajab) was off slow but made up some ground in the stretch in her debut. She was beaten five lengths by Unusual Way. Miss Empire has been working sharply towards her next start. She is a half-sister to the top sprinting stakes veteran Boronardo, hero of the Ancient Title (G-1) and Sunshine Millions Sprint, two time winner of the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G-3), etc. Miss Empire was off slow and posed no threat to Unusual Way finishing five lengths behind that rival in their debut. Miss Empire should improve with time and distance.

The pretty gray TILDE (Swiss Yodeler - Self Taught, by Cee's Tizzy) fought hard Awesome Annie in their debut, beating her rival by a tough ½ length. It was 5 ½ lengths back to the third place horse. Eight of Tilde’s nine full siblings have raced, but only two have won more than once.

SET'N ON READY (More Than Ready - Laughingly, by Giant's Causeway) is the first foal produced by her dam. Laughingly went 0 -9 in her career, but she’s a half-sister to the English Champion Sprinter and sire Lucayan Prince, Louisiana Derby winner Comic Strip and two other stakes winners. Set'n On Ready dominated maiden claimers by over 12 lengths in her second start. She’s bred to enjoy distance and we may eventually see her on the turf.

GLORYANDPRAYER (Songandaprayer - First Glory, by Honour and Glory) was a long-shot winner against maiden claimers in her debut. Both of Gloryandprayer’s half siblings have won once in multiple starts and her dam went 0 for 8 in her career. Nonetheless, her dam is a half-sister to Hollywood Turf Cup (G-1) champ Boboman and Gloryandprayer’s second and third dams are stakes horses.

UNUSUAL WAY (Unusual Heat - Way Up, by Great Above) is an unusually precocious daughter of California’s leading sire. She won her debut over the hard-luck Awesome Annie, beating her by 2 ¼ lengths. Although her dam placed in some stakes races, overall, Unusual Way has a modest distaff family.


Track bias: 74% of sprints have been won by pace setters/pressers with 21% going wire-to-wire.

Although there is a speed favoring track bias, the last five Cinderella Stakes heroines won from off of the pace and most front runners haven’t fared well. The last filly to win on the lead was River’s Prayer in 2005. She continued on to become a multiple graded stakes winner.

Not surprisingly this early in the year, most of the youngsters prefer to be on or near the lead. Set'n On Ready is the speed of the field, yet she also has a classy pedigree and should enjoy the extra real estate. If she gets away from the gate, Miss Empire can be in position to dominate in the stretch. She also has plenty of class and should improve with distance. It’s never wise to overlook the offspring of Awesome Gambler in California, but which of his three daughters has the best chance to hit the board? All three posted identical late pace figures, but Awe Golly Molly came from off of the pace to post a win over another Awesome Gambler daughter Awe' Some Kitten. The third filly Awesome Annie has been defeated by two other entrants, but her overall speed figures have improved and she’s been working well.

#4 Miss Empire

#1 Awesome Annie

#7 Awe Golly Molly

#6 Set'n On Ready – longshot pick