Monday, September 3, 2012

Hopeful Stakes Connected to Triple Crown

The seven furlong Hopeful Stakes was inaugurated in 1903. In 1973, the American Graded Stakes Committee bestowed Grade 1 status on the race. Traditionally, the Hopeful was the first Grade 1 event held for juveniles in the country. Winners of the prestigious race include the first fillies to win the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby, Tanya and Regret, the legendary Man O'War, plus Triple Crown Champs Whirlaway, Secretariat and Affirmed. After Affirmed's victory, the last two horses to capture the Hopeful Stakes and a Triple Crown race were Preakness winner Summer Squall in 1989 and Preakness/Belmont hero Afleet Alex in 2004.

Perhaps it is a sign of modern American breeding trends that the majority of the Hopeful Stakes winners since 2000 have continued their careers as sprinter – middle distance runners. Last year, the Hopeful Stakes was dealt a blow when the race was downgraded to a Grade 2 event.

This year's field of seven juveniles includes some colts that own the pedigrees and possibly the talent to accomplish a Hopeful Stakes/Triple Crown double. Two colts in the field, Majestic Hussar and Royal Art are by previous Hopeful winners, Afleet Alex and Majestic Warrior.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking to pull off a trifecta with three entrants, Shanghai Bobby, Lawn Man and Overanalyze. The former two colts share the same owner, George and Lori Hall.

SHANGHAI BOBBY (Harlan's Holiday - Steelin', by Orientate) won his debut in mid-April. He then wired the field in the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont a month later, getting 5 ½ furlongs in a blazing 1:02.87, just missing the eight year old track record of 1:02.26. His dam is stakes placed and his second dam is the full sister to City Band, winner of the Golden Rod (G-3) and Oak Leaf Stakes (G-1). Shanghai Bobby's pedigree indicates that he will be best up to middle distances.

LAWN MAN (Flatter – Holly Park, by Go For Gin) was a sparking 4 ½ length debut winner over a good Saratoga track. His dam is a half sister to a couple of stakes placed runners. Lawn Man's distaff line has a special connection to the Hopeful Stakes as the 2001 winner Came Home and 2007 runner-up Ready's Image are members of the family. Lawn Man has the pedigree to run classic distances.

OVERANALYZE (Dixie Union - Unacloud, by Unaccounted For) earned a victory in his five furlong debut, getting the distance is a swift :57.48 and beating his rivals, including Royal Art, by 1 ¼ lengths. He owns the second highest late pace speed figure in the field. Overanalyze is a half brother to Matron (G-1, 7F) heroine Meadow Breeze. Another half sibling, Mighty Monsoon, is a multiple stakes placed sprinter. Their unraced dam is a half sister to two stakes placed runners. Overanalyze has the pedigree to handle middle distances.

Trainer Kelly Breen is represented by Bern Identity and Vegas No Show in the Hopeful Stakes.

BERN IDENTITY (Bernstein - Maddalena, by Good and Tough) announced that he might be something special when he won his maiden in his second start. He galloped to a 13 ¾ length victory, getting five furlongs in :57.55. In the Sanford Stakes (G-2), the son of Bernstein showed his professionalism by rating off of a torrid pace before putting away the tired pace setters to win going away by 1 ¼ lengths. Read his in-depth pedigree profile.

VEGAS NO SHOW (Hard Spun - The Hess Express, by Lord Carson) was third in his 4 ½ furlong debut. A little over a month later, he came back to win a mile race by a length, in a very green fashion, ducking all over the course. He's clearly talented and should improve with racing. Vegas No Show is a half brother to Whitney Handicap (G-1, 9F) champ Bullsbay. Two half sisters are juvenile stakes winners. Their dam is a juvenile stakes placed runner as is the second dam, Turcomedy. Vegas No Show's third dam was a multiple stakes winner and also won stakes as a juvenile. Vegas No Show has the pedigree to handle middle distances.

FORTIFY (Distorted Humor - Kotuku, by A.P. Indy) was mentioned on The Kiddie List in July. He sat off of swift early fractions in his debut, took over around the turn and drew off to a commanding 5 ½ length win. His dam went 0-5 in her career, but she’s a half sister to the dam of Ashland Stakes (G-1 8.5F) winner Little Belle, who also placed in the Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks and Alabama Stakes, all G-1 events. The second dam Railbird was highweight older mare in Europe. She’s a half sister to G-1 winners Runup The Colors and Prospector’s Delight, dam of HOY Mineshaft, etc. His third and fourth dams are blue hens. This Darley-bred colt has the pedigree to travel 1 14/ miles.

MAJESTIC HUSSAR (Majestic Warrior - Distorted Blaze, by Distorted Humor) sat off of the early pace, then took over around the turn, widening his lead to win his six furlong debut by 6 ¼ lengths over a sloppy Saratoga track. Majestic Hussar's first crop sire won an eventful edition of the Hopeful in 2007. Majestic Hussar is a half brother to Palm Beach Stakes (G-3, 9FT) hero Joes Blazing Aaron. He's also a half to multiple graded stakes placed French filly Danse Grecque. There is a smattering of blacktype runners throughout the first three generations of Majestic Hussar's distaff family and the Champion turf horse Alleged is a distant relative. Majestic Hussar should handle middle distances.