Friday, June 14, 2013

Willie B in the Willard L Proctor?

With the Triple Crown contests in the history books, the new crop of two year old colts are taking the first baby steps of their careers in the Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park. This year's winners may be the last in the race series, which began in 1953.

Some distinguished colts had their beginnings in this stakes race. In just the second edition of the WL Proctor, a colt named Swaps finished third. He would continue on to win the Kentucky Derby and be named Horse of the Year. One of the top sprinters and sires of his time, Fleet Nasrullah won in 1957. His offspring went on to produce King's Bishop, Ancient Title, Flying Paster and other top runners. Other victors of the WL Proctor top California sire Swiss Yodeler and Champion Sprinter Squirtle Squirt.

In 2011, 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, nine promising colts will take their spot in the starting gate.

Willie B Awesome (Awesome Gambler - Cause I'm Tricky, by Nineeleven) appears to be the stronger of the two entrants from the Solis barn. He' is a full brother to Willa B Awesome, who was third in the Cinderella Stakes in 2011. Willa B continued on to win/place in 13 of 19 starts, including victories in the San Ysabel (G-3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G-1). Willie B Awesome encountered trouble in his first start, having to steady in traffic in the race won by Street Icon. Two weeks later Willie B came back at the same level. He broke inward from post two and was outrun early. He started making up ground on the front runners in the stretch and inherited the lead from Randio, who hit the rail and fell. Slightly green Willie B Awesome won by ½ length over Go First. Willie B Awesome showed speed figure improvement in his last two races and holds a second last bullet work.

His stablemate Time for a Hug (Time to Get Even - Action Girl, by Wild Rush) dueled the entire way and drew off to a 1 length win in his debut against state-bred maidens. There's no blacktype in his immediate family, but all three half sibs to race are winners. Time for a Hug's second dam Craftimae is a juvie stakes placed runner. WL Proctor entrant California Chrome strode nicely to get up for second and that won won next time out. Time for a Hug has recorded three consecutively faster works. Unfortunately his trainer Walther Solis is 0-26 with the maiden to stakes angle.

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit - Love the Chase, by Not For Love) came from off of the pace to finish a narrowly beaten second in his debut going 4 ½ furlongs. That's a tough thing to do. Next time out, the good looking Chestnut was up dueling for the lead and proved best, pulling away to win by 2 ¾ lengths. His speed figures improved and he tossed a 5F bullet in his last work. He's the first foal produced by his dam. No blacktype in the first two generations, but his third dam is a MSW. Trainer Art Sherman is 21% with last out maidens winning stakes.

Street Icon (Street Boss - Legion of Merit, by Danzig) matched strides early with Geldautomat in their debut, yet never let that one by. Street Icon was green in the stretch bearing in slightly on Geldautomat. Street Icon finished a comfortable ¾ length in front of that rival. All four of Street Icon's half sibs to race are winners, but none own blacktype. Their unraced dam is a half to a SP runner and the second dam Ophidian is G3 placed. Trainer John Sadler is 21% with the maiden to stakes angle.

Street Icon's stablemate Kobe's Back (Flatter - Well, by Well Decorated) was the fourth expensive OBSMAR13 seller at $480K after working a furlong in :10.1. He's a half to G-3 winning sprinter Well Spelled. The pretty gray colt has a string of quick works. Sadler is 22% with first timers.

One More (Holy Bull - See Rock City, by Tapit) is the only filly in the race. It isn't a big deal this time of year, because both colts and fillies are on pretty even footing. In fact, similar to their human counterparts, young fillies are often more mature than the colts. That being said, only two fillies have won the WL Proctor, the last was in 1995 and the winner of the inaugural race was also a filly. It would be fitting to have another filly to close out the series. Despite the gray color of her sire and damsire, One More is a bay. Her entire female line back to her fifth dam are chestnuts. One More is the first foal borne by her dam, Rock City. That one is a half to a juvenile SW and a Juvie SP runner. Trainer Doug O'Neil is 13% with debut starters.

Solid Wager (Birdonthewire - G Ma, by Valid Wager) broke from the 1 post in his maiden claiming debut eight days ago. He hopped slightly at the start, and needed some time to get into gear. At one point he was 6 lengths behind the pace setters in this 5F race. Solid Wager cut the corner on the turn and wore them down, winning by 2 ¼ lengths in a strong :59 4/5. Trainer Peter Miller is 14% with the maiden to stakes winner angle and has won three of the last six editions of the WL Proctor.

Geldautomat (Fusaichi Pegasus - Sophie's Destiny, by Two Punch) was willing in his debut, but Street Icon refused to be headed. Geldautomat was slightly bothered by his rival coming in on him in the stretch, but to his credit, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus didn't give up. He was bested only ¾ lengths and held off the third place finisher by ½ length. Geldautomat is the first foal produced by his dam. Both his dam and second dam are unraced, although his dam Sophie's Destiny is a half sib to SW Grand Appointment and to two SP runners. His third dam Sophisticated Girl placed in the Oak Leaf (G-1) and she'd the dam of sire Doneraile Court and second dam of sire Souvenir Copy. This is also the family of MG1 winner Excellent Meeting. Trainer Kristen Mulhall wins non-graded stakes at 27% .

Go First (Kafwain - Go Ruby Go, by Rubiano) bore in on Willie Be Awesome at the start of their debut then drifted out slightly down the backstretch. Going four wide on the turn, Go First made up ground down the center of the stretch to get up for second, ½ length behind Willie B Awesome. Go First has recorded a couple of swift breezes and trainer Dean Pederson is 20% with second time runners.


Since 2000, seven winner sat second or third in the WL Proctor,before taking over in the stretch. One sat mid-pack (4th) while one ran them down from 8th place. No maiden has won, and all except two winners won/placed in their debut. Another interesting bit of trivia, only two winners were foaled in California, the rest were bred in either Kentucky or Florida.

That being said, the California horses look to be stronger than their Kentucky counterparts this year. California Chrome has experience running on and off of the pace, shows a speed figure increase and a last out bullet, all signs that he's a very live horse. Willie B Awesome had an excuse in his first and ran like a good one in his second. He isn't speed crazy either. Solid Wager is the only one with experience at 5F. His race was good, but he appears to be more of a grinder. Street Icon is a stubborn horse and refused to yield to Geldautomat. He should be respected. Go First recorded the highest late pace speed figure in the group. The extra distance should suit him and hopefully, he won't be as green.

#6 Willie B Awesome

#7 California Chrome

#8 Street Icon

#5- Go First