Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Watch List

At HRN:  Uncaptured Has Derby Connections

November and December are traditionally quiet months in terms of racing action. The spectacle of the Breeders’ Cup is over and many precocious juveniles are getting a well deserved vacation before returning to action next year. However, November and December are good months to look at the two year olds who are bred to enjoy classic distances. The majority of the Derby winners from 1990 – 2012 won their maiden races between August and November of their juvenile season. Only two horses, Fusaichi Pegasus and Monarchos, didn’t win their maiden race until the following January. Let’s take a look at horses that are flying under the radar and could show up in next year’s stakes races.
APEX (Dynaformer - Enth, by Seeking the Gold)
Race Record: 2-0-2-0 ($32,000)
Trainer: Bill Mott
This Claiborne Farm homebred has yet to break his maiden, however, he finished second while sprinting in both starts and appeared green. Apex is bred to be a late-developer and should improve with time and distance. When we think of Apex's sire Dynaformer, we immediately think of grass horses, but Dynaformer produces long-winded runners over all surfaces. His stakes-wining dirt progeny include Champion Barbaro, Stephen Foster victor Perfect Drift and Lone Star Derby winner Dynever. Apex's dam Enth is a half sister to stakes winners Total and Cease. Apex's third dam, the blue hen Bound, is the grand-dam of HOY Blame and his half brother, multiple stakes winner Tend. Apex has comparable breeding to Tend as both are by Dynaformer out of Seeking The Gold mares. Apex is taking a break at Payson Park and we may see him make a start at Gulfstream Park. He could be a late-developer on the Triple Crown trail.
ArchwarriorARCHWARRIOR (Arch -Winner's Edge, by Seeking the Gold)

Race Record: 2-1-0-0 ($68,000)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
A $375K OBS March 2 YO in training sales graduate purchased by Alto Racing, Archwarrior was quick to win a six furlong maiden race in his August debut. He was tossed into the Hopeful Stakes against his tougher stablemate Shanghai Bobby and finished a lackluster fourth. Archwarrior is a half to a two minor stakes winners and a stakes placed runner. His dam is Grade 3 stakes placed. She's a half sister to the English highweighted filly Lucky Song, a winner at 13 furlongs. Archwarrior last worked in October and may be taking some time off to grow up over the winter. He's one of many talented juveniles stabled in Todd Pletcher's barn at Palm Meadows. We may see Archwarrior next at Gulfstream Park.
DeweySQuare photo David StephensonDEWEY SQUARE (Bernardini –Somethinaboutbetty, by Forestry)

Race Record: 2-2-0-0 ($55,200)
Trainer: Dale Romans
The RNA (Reserve not Attained) $575K Keeneland Yearling has been impressive in his two starts so far for his owner-breeder Siena Farms. Dewey Square outclassed maidens and allowance runners in his first two starts. Then the son of super stud Bernardini Dewey Square gained ground to finish third, two lengths behind the frontrunners in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G-2). The race was better than it looked on paper because Dewey Square raced four wide the whole way. Dewey Square's dam is a multiple stakes winning veteran of 25 races, mainly in Maryland. Humana Distaff winner My Trusty Cat is a member of this female family. Dewey Square may be distance challenged down the road since as a broodmare sire, Forestry isn't represented by a stakes winner past 1 1/16 miles.
FracDaddy1FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away)

Race Record: 3-1-2-0 ($80,116)
Trainer: Ken McPeek
After his half siblings sold for six figures, Frack Daddy was scooped up by Magic City Thoroughbred Partners for $50K at last year's Keeneland September Yearling sale. Frack Daddy has finished in the money in all three starts at Churchill, including a monster finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. In that race, he went four wide and fought to the finish with the top runner Uncaptured, losing by a bare neck to his more experienced rival. Between the two, Frac Daddy ran the more impressive race. Frac Daddy receives his pretty gray coat from his damsire the Champion Skip Away, who was practically unbeatable as a five year old. Frack Daddy's dam is a half sister to the stakes winner Vegas Play. His second dam Power Play captured the Delaware Handicap at 1 ¼ miles. Should he stay healthy, Frac Daddy should be a major player on the Triple Crown trail.
FLYING BIRD (Street Boss - Caged Glory, by Honour and Glory)
Race Record: 5-2-0-1 ($60,334)
Trainer: Nick Zito
The Whitney Stables homebred is a late developing juvenile. After placing in his debut in June, he was off of the board in two starts. At the end of September, Flying Bird switched to turf and promptly won his maiden by over five lengths. He came back to score in an allowance race by two lengths over the Churchill turf. Flying Bird's first crop sire Street Boss set records as a sprinter. His offspring are winning up to 1 1/16 miles. They will likely be distance challenged, but may run farther over turf than dirt. There's little blacktype in the first two generations of Flying Bird's distaff line. However, his third dam is the blue hen Dear Birdie, dam of Belmont Stakes hero Birdtown and his full sister, Kentucky Oaks winner Birdtown. Flying Bird is inbred to the good mare Gongalon, dam of multiple G-1 winner and very good damsire Ogygian. Gonfalon is also the grand-dam of Grade 1 miler and sire Honour and Glory. Will Zito keep Flying Bird on the turf or experiment once again with dirt? Flying Bird's pedigree is filled with dirt influences, so we may see him take another shot at the surface next year at Gulfstream Park.
GulfportGULFPORT (Unbridled's Song - Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold)

Race Record: 4-1-1-1 ($55,460)
Trainer: Dale Romans
The exceptionally well-bred Gulfport was purchased by the partnership of Kinsman Stable, Michael Lauffer and Mike Rutherford for $775K at the Fasig Tipton August Yearling Sale in Saratoga. He's a half brother to Hopeful (G-1) hero and sire Majestic Warrior, stakes winner Crystal Current and Grade 3 placed Evolutionist. Gulfport's dam is a multiple G-1 winning sprinter. Gulfport freaked over the Churchill dirt scaring his rivals by over seven lengths in a seven furlong sprint on October 31. He followed up with a victory in an allowance race, getting a mile in 1:35.93 at Churchill on November 24. Among beaten rivals were stakes placed Midas Dancer (3rd Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes) and Five Iron (2nd, Swynford Stakes).
LITTLE DISTORTED (Distorted Humor - Asbeautifulasyou (IRE), by A.P. Indy)
Race Record: 1-1-0-0 ($40,800)
Trainer: Michael Mareina
An $180K Keeneland September Yearling purchase by Kuehne Racing, Little Distorted was impressive in his six furlong debut at Belmont. He dueled from the start with Soulsinging to the ½ mile pole, put that one away and was re-engaged by the well-bred favorite, Revolutionary. The two colts opened up eight lengths on the field, Little Distorted refused to yield and pulled away to win by 2 ½ lengths at the end. With Belmont Stakes hero A.P. Indy and Kentucky Derby champ Unbridled as his first and second damsires, Little Distorted has the pedigree to run all day. His second dam is Hollywood Oaks (G-2) heroine Santa Catarina. The English Champion Two Year Old Filly Culture Vulture is also a member of this female family. Little Distorted breezed 4F :48.46 (13/13) at Gulfstream Park on November 24. He may be pointed to an allowance race in December or January.
MIDNITE POPPA (Unbridled's Song - Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat)
Race Record: 2-0-0-2 ($14,800)
Trainer: Nick Zito
The My Meadowview Farm homebred has the pedigree to handle classic distances. He was third in two attempts sprinting over dirt. Midnite Poppa is a son of the multiple graded stakes winner Island Sand. The mare won from one mile to 1 ¼ miles, including the Acorn (G-1), Delaware Handicap (G-2), and placed in in the Kentucky Oaks behind the champion Ashado over a muddy track. She was also second in the Mother Goose Stakes. Midnite Poppa has been breezing at Churchill.
NormandyInvasionNORMANDY INVASION (Tapit - Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor)

Race Record: 3-1-1-0 ($92,240)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Normandy Invasion was purchased at the Keeneland April 2012 sale for $230K by Fox Hill Farm. After blasting maidens by over nine lengths in a one mile maiden race at Aqueduct, Normandy Invasion came back just 22 days later to face winners in the Remsen Stakes (G-2). He mad a blinding move around the far turn and was just nipped by the more experienced Overanalyze at the wire. Normandy Invasion galloped out past his rivals at the end of the race. There is very little blacktype in the colt's female family. However, he is bred along similar lines to West Virginia Derby winner Concord Point, who is by Tapit out of a Boston Harbor mare. Despite the ability to quicken and sustain a run, Normandy Invasion's pedigree is borderline for Classic distances. His damsire Boston Harbor was the precocious winner of the 1996 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champion Two Year Old. The majority of his daughters' offspring are best up to 1 1/16 miles, although one runner, Sealy Hill, has won at 1 ¼ miles. Despite the lack of class and shortcomings in his pedigree, Normandy Invasion appears to be a serious racehorse who could be a significant force on the Triple Crown trail.
palaceMalicePALACE MALICE ( Curlin - Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem)

Race Record: 2-1-10 ($62,000)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
A $200K Keenland 2YO in training purchase by Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice was the first US based winner for his sire, Curlin, a two-time HOY. Palace Malice has a turf-oriented pedigree through his distaff line. His dam placed in a listed stakes over the lawn. She's a half sister to the dam of California stakes veteran Rail Trip. Palace Malice hasn't been heard from since winning his maiden in a 6 ½ furlong dirt sprint in August. He beat Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint champ Hightail by 4 ½ lengths. He may show up in an allowance race at Gulfstream sometime next year and the lawn could be an option.
WAR ACADEMY (Giant's Causeway - Cabbage Key, by A.P. Indy)
Race Record: 1-1-0-0 ($27,000)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
The $450K '11 KEESEP Yearling purchase by Demi O'Byrne stalked nicely three wide and professionally dominated his rivals by 1 ¾ lengths, including his well regarded stablemate Denzel (Lion-Heart – Jindy's Dream, by A.P. Indy). War Academy's dam placed in two stakes over the lawn. She's a half sister to a stakes winner and stakes placed runner. The Champion Euro Juvie filly Gay Gallanta is part of this female family. War Academy's fourth dam Gay Missile is also the third dam of his broodmare sire, A.P. Indy. War Academy has an astounding 31 Classic Chef de race attributes in his pedigree. Should he live up to his hype, huge sales price and pedigree, War Academy could be a very serious contender on the Triple Crown Trail. War Academy breezed 4F :48.20 (14/47) on November 27 over the Santa Anita dirt.