Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pilgrim Stakes – Winner Goes to BC Juvie Turf

The Pilgrim Stakes (G-3) held at 1 1/16 miles over the Belmont turf, has been part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In contest since the inception of the Breeders’ Cup Turf races for Juveniles in 2008. The 2008 and 2009 Pilgrim winners didn’t contest the Breeders’ Cup race and both the 2010 and 2011 Pilgrim winners placed ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

This year's contest appears light, but contentious. Only one two of the eight colts entered, West Hills Giant and Special Skills, own blacktype.

WEST HILLS GIANT (Frost Giant - Outtawesthills, by Take Me Out) won his maiden at the Pilgrim distance of 1 1/16 miles over the turf. He came back to win the New York Breeders Futurity sprinting over dirt. The John Terranova trainee is a son of first crop sire Frost Giant, who is a graded stakes winner over dirt and turf. West Hills Giant owns the only blacktype in three generations of his female family.

SPECIAL SKILLS (Bernstein - Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo) fought hard through the stretch in the Nick Shuk Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park. He got his nose down on the wire, but was disqualified gor bearing out on the second place finisher. It was over four lengths back to the third place horse. Special Skills is a half to the multiple turf stakes winner Love to Tell, Virgina Oaks heroine Volcat and a stakes placed runner. His second dam is stakes placed and his third dam is two-time Canadian Champion Eternal Search.

From the folks who brought us Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, CERRO (Mr. Greeley - Ballette (IRE), by Giant's Causeway) won his debut in Italy. He descends from a classy distaff line, although this particular branch hasn't produced much. Cerro is a half to Arlington-Washington Futurity runner-up Sacham Spirit. His dam won twice in two starts and is a half to Irish Derby (Gr. 1) runner-up Dr. Johnson. Cerro's second dam is a ¾ sister to the Champion English colt and good sire El Gran Senor and to the grand-dam of Breeders' Cup Mile hero Domedriver. Cerro's third dam is the blue hen Sex Appeal.

High expectations abound for the well-bred NOBLE TUNE (Unbridled's Song - Serena's Cat, by Storm Cat). Breaking from the inside post in his debut, Noble Tune hit the gate. Undeterred, he grabbed the lead in the stretch and poured it on to score by three lengths. His actions gained him the highest late pace Brisnet speed figure in the Pilgrim field. Noble Tune's female family is loaded with classy stakes winners. His dam is a stakes winning turf sprinter. She's a half to the Irish multiple Group 3 winner Vocalized. Noble Tune's second dam Serena's Tune is a multiple stakes winning ¾ sister to the sire Harlington. She's also a half sister to multiple Group 1 heroine Sophisticat, and multiple graded stakes winner and sires Grand Reward and Schramsburg. Noble Tune's third dam is the Champion mare Serena's Song.

His stablemate SAINT VIGEUR (Smart Strike - Sweet Way, by Giant's Causeway) closed in the stretch of his debut to finish second after going three wide around the turn. Like Noble Tune, Saint Vigeur has a classy pedigree. His dam is a half sister to Champion Juvenile Sweet Catomine and her full sister, Breeders' Cup Distaff heroine Life is Sweet.

The oddly named NOTACATBUTALLAMA (Harlan's Holiday - Self Rising, by Hansel) trounced state-bred maidens in his second start, then was a one-paced fourth, beaten three lengths in the With Anticipation Stakes (G-3). There is little blacktype in the first two generations of his female family. His dam is a half to the stakes winning sprinter Lost Without You, who was also third in the PG Johnson Stakes.

READ THE PROPOSAL (Read the Footnotes - Sweet and Sassy, by Lear Fan) splashed his way to an 8 ½ length win in the Saratoga slop against state-bred maidens. Although his sire was a multiple graded stakes winner over dirt, Read the Proposal owns plenty of turf attributes. His sire's broodmare sire Al Naser was a Champion Miler in Europe. Read the Proposal 's damsire Lear Fan was a multiple graded stakes winner in Europe. His second damsire is the great Champion Nureyev. Read the Proposal's second dam is a three-time stakes placed runner over the lawn.

QUINZIEME MONARQUE (Rock Hard Ten - Quintela (GB), by Giant's Causeway) needed three starts to win his maiden and got the job done by 4 ¾ lengths when he stretched out to two turns. He's bred to go long over the turf. There is no notable blacktype in the first two generations of Quinzieme Monarque's female family, although the line carries plenty of European turf winners.

Bernie the Jet and James Jingle are Main Track Only entrants.


The turf course will likely be soft to good. Only CERRO has experience on a course that isn't firm. READ THE PROPOSAL and SPECIAL SKILLS are the speed of the race. The last colt to win the Pilgrim Stakes on the lead was The Leopard in 2007. Three of the last five winners won from the back of the pack. Chad Brown has the horsepower to pull off a Pilgrim exacta with NOBLE TUNE and SAINT VIGEUR. QUINZIEME MONARQUE worked a bullet after winning his maiden and he should be sharp. NOTACATBUTALLAMA enters for the Pletcher barn. Pletcher won the Pilgrim twice in the last five years.




#1 SAINT VIGEUR – longshot pick