Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spinaway/Hopeful Stakes Review

Saratoga_starting_gate_ Two year old fillies and colts are highlighted in the closing days of the Saratoga meet. Two youngsters will gallop off as graded stakes winners and one filly will have the designation as the last winner pronounced by legendary Saratoga mainstay Tom Durkin.

The seven furlong Spinaway Stakes (G-1) has been contested since 1881. As you can imagine, the roll call of winners is a who’s who of racing. However, in the last ten years, there has been only one filly, Folklore, who has won both the Spinaway and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The 2011 Spinaway heroine Grace Hall placed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and was third the following year in the Kentucky Oaks. Last year’s Spinaway proved to be a very strong race. The winner Sweet Reason captured this year’s editions of the Test and Acorn Stakes. Runner-up Stopchargingmaria scored back-to-back victories in the CCA Oaks and Alabama Stakes.


angela renee1 This year’s Spinaway cast includes the Adirondack Stakes runner-up Angela Rene. After capturing her maiden, she was out finished 1 ¾ lengths by Cavorting in the Adirondack. Mentioned a few times on the Kiddie List, ANGELA RENEE (Bernardini - Pilfer, by Deputy Minister) is a full sister to multiple G-1 stakes winner and sire TO HONOR AND SERVE, and a half to stakes placed Elnaawi (by Street Sense). She’s the most accomplished filly in the field and the one to beat.



Eight other fillies will try to do just that. Three have been spotted on the Kiddie List.

BY THE MOON (Indian Charlie - By the Light, by Malibu Moon) had a professional debut. After tucking into third place early in a 5 ½ furlong sprint, she spread five wide on the turn and raced determinedly down the stretch, winning by ½ length. Her precocious dam won all four starts at two, and is a multiple stakes earner of almost $900K. By The Moon should love the extra distance in the Spinaway.

WINTER DAWN (Sky Mesa - Reboot, by Rubiano) was wide the entire way in her 6 furlong debut while pressing the pace. She prevailed by a bare head. Winter Dawn is a half to stakes winner SUMMER CRUISE (by Vicar) and to Rebuttal (Mr. Greeley) who placed in the Middle Park (Eng. Gr.1). Her dam Reboot has Rasmussen Factor inbreeding to the blue hen FOGGY NOTE through full siblings RELAUNCH (Reboot’s second damsire) and MOON GLITTER (second dam of Rubiano). Winter Dawn’s second dam LAUNCH LIGHT TEK is a G-3 winner. Winter Dawn has a sprinter’s pedigree. She may find seven furlongs beyond her scope if she has to go wide again.

Curalina CURALINA (Curlin - Whatdreamsrmadeof, by Graeme Hall) had a wild debut filled with trouble. After veering in and bumping at the start, she was pushed to keep up in the early stages. After finding her footing, Curalina traveled four wide on the turn and staggered greenly down the stretch, gaining second place from talent, not skill. Curlina is a half to multiple stakes placed Dream Spinner (by Hard Spun). Two of her three half siblings have raced. Both are winners. One placed multiple times as a 2YO. Her dam Whatdreamsrmadeof placed in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies and Grade 2 Fairgrounds Oaks. She’s a half to stakes winner LADY ECHO. Curlina will likely be best up to 1 1/16 miles.



CONDO COMMANDO (Tiz Wonderful - Yearly Report, by General Meeting) drag raced out of the starting gate and was gone, embarrassing maiden claimers by 12 lengths and stopping the clock in 1:03.82 for 5 ½ furlongs, a little more than a second off of the track record. She’s a half to True North (G-2) placed Checklist. Their dam is a multiple G-2 winner from 7 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. The second dam FISCAL YEAR is also a stakes winner. Condo Commando is certainly the speed of the race. If they let her go, she could be hard to catch.

Another daughter of Sky Mesa, DARLING SKY (Sky Mesa - Darling Mambo, by Broad Brush) is a runaway debut winner. She beat maidens by over 7 lengths at PARX, stopping the clock in a sharp :57 for five furlongs. Her dam is a half sister to Ancient Title runner-up Irrefutable.

BONNIE K (Majestic Warrior - Royal Confection, by Candi's Gold) fought hard for a neck victory in her debut at 5 ½ furlongs. She’ll be adding first time Lasix and blinkers for the Spinaway. Bonnie K breezed two pre-race bullets for the race. Bonnie K is a half to Prairie Meadows Derby winner KARMA. He and their stakes placed dam own the only blacktype in two generations of the female family.

From the last crop of international sire Dynaformer, LADY ZUZU (Dynaformer - Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) takes a shot sprinting over dirt after a third place finish sprinting on turf. Three of her four half siblings placed on dirt, but never won. They were all more proficient on the turf, including multiple graded stakes winner OPTIMIZER. Lady Zuzu is royally bred. Her dam won over the dirt and is a half sister to multiple G-1 winner FINDERS FEE. Her second dam FANTASTIC FIND is a Grade 1 winner and third dam BLITEY is a blue hen. Although Lady Zuzu’s sire has a few winners over the dirt, his progeny are noted turf routers. Lady Zuzu’s immediate family prefers turf and she is bred to go long on turf.

RYABINKA (Sharp Humor - West Coast Kitty, by Bertrando) is the most experienced runner in the field with four starts under her girth. After winning her maiden in her third attempt, the sprint-oriented filly finished seventh in the Cassidy Stakes at Gulfstream after having to check at the 1/16 pole. Her dam is a half to Triple Bend (G-1) winner UNFURL THE FLAG.


In the last four years, pace setters haven’t done so well in the Spinaway. The winners either pressed the pace (sat third/fourth) or were one-run types. There’s an 80% chance of rain in the late afternoon.

CURALINA is the only one with experience in the mud, although RYABINKA won her maiden on a good track. That one has a superior mud pedigree. BY THE MOON, ANGELA RENE, CONDO COMMANDO and BONNIE K also have good mud pedigrees.

Angela Rene is the class of the race, but just about any one of these fillies could step up and beat her. If CURALINA gets a good trip, she could be right there. BY THE MOON has the pedigree to stretch out and the running style to be effective. BONNIE K could surprise.




#9 BONNIE K – longshot pick



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.

The Hopeful Stakes can be a good indicator of Breeders’ Cup strength. In the last three years, The Hopeful hero has either won or placed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In 2012, Shanghai Bobby completed the Hopeful/Juvenile double to capture the Eclipse Award as outstanding Two Year Old Colt.

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.

This year's Hopeful appears pretty light. I Spent It, winner of the Saratoga Special faces mostly last out maiden winners and some who still haven’t visited the winner’s circle.

I Spent It 2 I SPENT IT has raced from off of the pace in both starts. The son of Freshman Sire Super Saver conquered a strong group in the Saratoga Special by 2 ¾ lengths. His main competition may come from another son of Super Saver, COMPETITIVE EDGE. That one ran away from maidens in his debut, galloping under the wire ten lengths in front and getting six furlongs in 1:09 3/4. The third place horse from that race has come back to win. The fourth place finisher was Hopeful entrant SHARM, who finished 14 lengths behind Competitive Edge. Sharm raced 16 days ago and finished third against maidens. Both colts were mentioned on the July 22 Kiddie List.


The freshmen stallion Warrior’s Reward is proving to be a very good sire. His son REQUITE (Warrior's Reward - New Hope Seven, by Carson City) won a 5 ½ furlong sprint at first asking by 3/12 lengths. I’m not sure how classy he’ll turn out to be. Both half siblings are 1-13. Requite’s dam New Hope Seven is multiple stakes placed and owns the only blacktype in two generations. Requite posted the third highest late pace speed figure in the Hopeful.

The California-bred SIGNATURE CAT finished second to the Quality Road colt Blofeld just 18 days ago. Signature Cat had a five length lead early in the race, but was passed by his rival and finished second, beaten a length at five furlongs.

A pair of longshot invaders from Florida, DEKABRIST and MARATIK, appear to have little chance. Dekabrist won two starts, including a minor stakes race at Gulfstream before flopping in the Birdonthewire Stakes, beaten soundly by 11 lengths. Maratik finished fourth, beaten six lengths in a maiden race at Gulfstream.


I SPENT IT has the class edge in here. He can race on or off of the pace. If he stubs a hoof or doesn’t feel like running, COMPETITIVE EDGE could offer a challenge. Let’s toss REQUITE in there for the trifecta.




Friday, August 29, 2014

Del Mar Debutante a Strong Prep for BC Juvie Fillies

BC Juvie Fillies RiaAntonia Since 2000, seven fillies who would later be crowned Champion Two Year Olds have contested the seven furlong Del Mar Debutante (G-1). Three of them, Halfbridled, Sweet Catomine and Stardom Bound, won the Debutante and completed a Debutante/BC Juvenile Fillies double. Tempera, Blind Luck and Beholder were runners-up in the Debutante but won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. All would capture the Eclipse Award as outstanding two year old filly. Last year’s Debutante heroine She’s a Tiger won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by a thrilling nose, but was disqualified for interference. She was still named Champion Juvenile Filly.


This year, a field of nine hopefuls will enter the starting gate at Del Mar. All except two fillies won their last start. Bob Baffert has sent out seven winners since 1997. Let’s review the field.

SeduireSEDUIRE (Elusive Quality - Holy Eclair, by Holy Bull) was a distant second, beaten by over six lengths by Sunset Glow in the Sorrento. The pretty gray filly tries Polytrack for the first time. Her sire gets 12% winners at Del Mar and enters for leading trainer Hollendorfer. Top jock Elvis Trujillo rides.


MANAHATTA (Old Fashioned - Ermelinda, by Sea Hero) made all of the pace in her debut, beating Windy Forecast and Dad’s Princess by a length, despite drifting out. Manahatta is her sire’s only winner over the Del Mar Polytrack. She’s a half to stakes placed Game for More and Terrys Tom Cat. She’s a stablemate to Seduire, and Bejarano rides back.


STARLET O'HARA (Discreetly Mine - My Chanel, by Gilded Time) showed improvement in her second start, stretching out and switching to Poly. Discreetly Mine is a superior Polysire. Mentioned on an early June Kiddie List, Starlet O’Hara is a half to multiple graded stakes placed turf router Trend. Their dam is a half to the graded stakes winning veterans WANDERING BOY, EARLY WARNING and graded stakes placed Vivid Sunset. The second dam VID KID is a stakes winning Juvenile. Starlet O’Hara is trained by Bob Baffert.


DAD'S PRINCESS (Mineshaft - Rooneys Princess, by Deputy Minister) was off slow in her debut, but made up ground to finish third to Manahatta, earning the highest late pace speed figure in the field. Extra distance will help, but Mineshaft’s progeny are 1-28 at Del Mar. Dad’s Princess is a half sister to Mountaineer Juvenile winner Prince Rooney. Their second dam is Champion Older Mare, Princess Rooney. Cassidy/Smith have won/placed in three of four attempts in the last two weeks.


Sunset Glow SUNSET GLOW (Exchange Rate - Perfectforthepart, by Dynaformer) jetted to a 3 ¼ length win in the Sorrento Stakes in her last start. Fillies exiting that race have done well in the Debutante. In 2012 EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE captured both races. Last year, SHE’S A TIGER was second in the Sorrento before being crowned in the Debutante. The pretty gray Sunset Glow is the first foal born of her stakes placed dam. There’s little blacktype in this distaff family, although the third dam ANDESTINE is a Grade 1 winner.


HER EMMYNENCY (Successful Appeal - Chic Dancer, by Joyeux Danseur) sat in third in the early stages of her debut before scoring a 2 ¾ length win. She was mentioned in the July 8 Kiddie List. Her dam won the G-3 Modesty at 1 3/16 miles and the 1 1/16 mile Flawlessly both over the lawn. There isn’t much blacktype in the first two distaff generations, but the second dam is a half sister to 3 time California Champ BEST PAL. Her Emmynency has posted two strong post-race breezes.


STEALTH DRONE (Smoke Glacken - Stealth Cat, by Magic Cat) battled gamely on the inside and fought back after being headed, earning a determined ½ length victory in her debut in a maiden claimer. She was quickly snatched up by Doug O’Neil. Her dam is a multiple stakes winning sprinter and owns the only blacktype in two generations of this female family.


Conquest Eclipse CONQUEST ECLIPSE (Malibu Moon - Grand Traverse Bay, by Repriced) was mentioned on the July 1 Kiddie List. Trained by Mark Casse, Conquest Eclipse stopped the clock in 1:11.48 in her debut at Churchill. This will be Conquest Eclipse’s first start in California. Her unraced dam is a half to Sweet Damsel, who bore Travers Stakes winner and sire COLONEL JOHN. Conquest Eclipse has posted a series of five furlong breezes for her start in the Debutante.


WINDY FORECAST (4-1) fought hard in her debut and finished in between Manahatta and Dad’s Princess. Windy Forecast is a half sister to stakes winners TRES CORONAS, DESCAPATE and stakes placed Brocco Bry. Talamo sticks with Her Emmynency and Kenty D. picks up the mount.


Speed from the rail has been dominant the entire Del Mar Meet. Last week, 67% of the front runners wired the field. Six of the nine fillies in the Debutante have early speed. That being said, all but one of the last seven winners sat in fourth place or farther back before making their move. Last year’s winner She’s a Tiger, was a far back second place before making up almost five lengths to win.

SUNSET GLOW is the class of the field and the most accomplished with four starts under her girth. STARLET O'HARA doesn’t need the lead to win and is Baffert’s sole entry. HER EMMYNENCY has a good running style for this race. Have to respect SEDUIRE, who has speed on the rail. DAD'S PRINCESS will benefit from the extra distance.




#4 DAD'S PRINCESS – longshot pick

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

P.G. Johnson a glimpse at BC Juvie Fillies Turf

PG Johnson contenders The P.G. Johnson Stakes is a chance for the turf fillies to show off while running 1 1/6 miles at Saratoga. Some quality fillies have exited this race to earn further blacktype. TAPITSFLY captured the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fililes Turf. In 2019 KATHMANBLU placed in both races and in 2012, WATSDACHANCES won the PG Johnson and was second in the Breeders’ Cup.

ANCIENT GODDESS (Iffraaj (GB) - Jezebel (GB), by Owington (GB)) raced twice in France, finishing second in her debut and winning in her second attempt, both times against the colts. The second place finisher came back to win. There isn’t much blacktype in her female family. She’s a large two-turn looking filly that should appreciate the extra distance. Trainer John Terranova breezed her an easy four furlongs over the turf course six days ago. Ancient Goddess will receive first time Lasix.

SUNDAY SONNET (Any Given Saturday - Red Piano, by Red Ransom) tries the lawn for the first time after a dominating 7 ½ length performance over a sloppy Saratoga track. Chances are good that she’ll like the turf. Sunday Sonnet is a half sister to multiple Grade 3 turf star PIANIST (More Than Ready) and two other half siblings placed over grass. Her damsire was a leading sire in England and Australia, while her second damsire was the Classic chef-de-race and top turf horse Nureyev. Trainer Kelly Breen wins with 22% first tine grass starters.

PARTISAN POLITICS (More Than Ready - Bluegrass Princess, by Dynaformer) was third in her 5 ½ furlong debut, beaten a bare neck by Rainha Da Bateria. The farther the better for this filly. Her dam won the 1 1/16 mile Valley View Stakes (G-3) and placed in two graded stakes at 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Chad Brown is a top conditioner of turf runners.

FLYING TIPAT (Tapit - Flying Marlin, by Marlin) is the only filly in the field who has raced at 1 1/16 miles over the lawn. She just missed in her debut by ¾ length after going four wide on the turn. Flying Tipat is a full sister to BC Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine TAPITSFLY, who also won the P. G. Johnson Stakes in 2009. The full sisters are conditioned by Dale Romans.

MAGNIFICENT MARGO (Congrats - Holy Miss, by Holy Bull) angled out three wide and nailed her debut by a nose at 5 ½ furlongs. She’s a half sister to the stakes winning veterans GENERAL CHARLEY and TRULY LUCKY (both by Truluck) and the stakes placed juvenile Holy Mission (Open Forum). Trainer Mike Maker gets 21% winners in non-graded stakes.

RAINHA DA BATERIA (Broken Vow - Amelia, by Dixieland Band) was mentioned on the Kiddie List in July. After settling in sixth place for most of the race, Rainha Da Bateria unleashed a furious charge to win a blanket photo finish by a head. She’s a half to MSW KINDERGARDEN KID (by Dynaformer), stakes winner ASSATEAGUE (by Stormy Atlantic) and stakes placed He's Had Enough (by Tapit). In this distaff family, the colts have proven to be the better runners. Out of three fillies, only one has hit the board and she’s a stakes winner. Four of five half siblings raced and hit the board as 2YO. The first two dams own blacktype and the second dam is a full sister to Champion 3YO Filly ALTHEA. Third dam is the blue hen, Courtly Dee. Rainha Da Bateria is trained by Graham Motion. Only 6% of his grass horses win second time out.

SLAVA (Sharp Humor - Splendorella, by Deputy Minister) is the most experienced filly in the field with three races under her girth. After winning her second race sprinting at Gulfstream, she finished a distant second in an allowance race to eventual stakes placed Naval Command. Slava is the second of her dam’s foals to race. There’s no blacktype in the first two generations of her distaff family. Her dam won on Polytrack, placed over dirt, but was unplaced in her sole turf race. Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko is 3-76 with turf runners.


The PG Johnson Stakes has been contested seven times. Three of those editions were won by pace setters. One pace presser and mid-pack runner won, while two winners unleashed their run from the back of the pack.

There appears to be very little early pace in the PG Johnson. Sunday Sonnet has won on the lead and could be the pace setter. If she slows them down enough, she could wire the field. Magnificent Margo and Slava have also raced near the pace. These young fillies are discovering their best running style, so any one of them could change tactics and be closer to the pace if it is slow.





Sunday, August 10, 2014


The Saratoga Special (G-2) is the second of three graded stakes for two year old colts at Saratoga.

Sanford_Stakes The first, theSanford Stakes (G-3) was won in a thriller Big Trouble, by a neck over a bothered Mr. Z and a game Cinco Charlie, who kept his neck in front of an also game Nona’s Boy. Unfortunately, Big Trouble, living up to his name, tore a suspensory ligament in his right foreleg recently and will be out of commission for about six months. However, Mr. Z, and Cinco Charlie and Nona’s boy are back for more and will be challenged by Lone Star Park’s TTA Sales Futurity hero W V Jetsetter and seven last out maiden winners. The top three or four colts will most likely contest the Hopeful Stakes (G-1) on September 1.


Of the three Sanford Stakes contenders, Mr. Z (Malibu Moon - Stormy Bear, by Storm Cat) had the worst trip. He had every reason to give it up on the final turn when Cory Lanerie checked off of the heels of Nona’s Boy, whom he’d been following around the turn. Mr. Z was sharply guided towards the rail to avoid an incident while Nona’s Boy took on the pace setter Cinco Charlie. In mid-stretch, Mr. Z found himself boxed behind the two pace setters in front and Big Trouble to his outside. Cory Lanerie aggressively bashed the game Mr. Z against Big Trouble, forcing that rival out. The two nailed the battling Cinco Charlie and Nona’s Boy at the wire. Mr. Z was making his second career start in the Sanford. It’s impossible to say how much that wild ride took out of the colt, but he must be included here.

If Mr. Z wins the award for worst trip, Cinco Charlie wins for fastest horse in the field. He battled three wide through a blazing :21.65 first quarter and a :45.17 half. The son of Indian Charlie melted Chocolate Wildcat by the ½ mile pole and the other early rival, Bessie’s Boy, retreated soon thereafter. Cinco Charlie had no time to slow down. As Bessie’s Boy was going in reverse, Nona’s Boy challenged Cinco Charlie on the outside. The two rivals battled head and head to the shadow of the wire, where they were passed by Big Trouble and Mr. Z. The big question is – can Cinco Charlie hold that blazing speed an additional furlong? If he can slow the pace by a second or two, yes, he probably can.

Take nothing away from Nona’s Boy for his fourth place finish. He settled nicely off of the pace in the early going and provided a challenge at the top of the stretch. He didn’t miss by much and you can be sure that Todd Pletcher will have Nona’s Boy ready to mount a serious threat.

So, who can challenge the top three?

ISpentIt_1_ I Spent It had a noteworthy debut. While arguing for the lead, he was passed and had to check due to another horse passing and cutting in. The son of Freshman sire Super Saver was allowed to collect himself. In the stretch I Spent It appeared to hang, then shifted gears while drifting out from the whip. He still managed to win the sprint by ½ length. The colt posted a pre-race bullet to sharpen him for this race.



Stanford Stanford is the “other” Pletcher runner, the first being Nona’s Boy. He needed a few furlongs to find his stride, but once he did, the race was over. The son of Malibu Moon glided under the wire 1 ½ lengths in front. Pletcher won this race last year with Corfu and you know he’ll have Stanford ready to go.



Rod McLeod likewise had a bothered debut. After stalking early, he had to steady on the turn and swung four wide. The son of Roman Ruler breezed by the leaders to win by ¾ a length. Rod McLeod is the The Dale Romans trainee enters off of a pre-race bullet work.

Tizcano outclassed a group of maidens at Gulfstream by 6 ½ lengths. He’s a son of Alcibiades Stakes heroine Westerly Breeze and Tiznow. Tizcano switched to Peter Miller’s barn and has posted three moderate works.

Lord Tyrion, Cleveland Sound, Majestic Affair and W V Jetsetter won at minor tracks and may be up against it.


Tizcano appears to have enough early speed to keep Cinco Charlie busy on the front end for at least half of the race. Nona’s Boy made a strong middle move in the Sanford couldn’t handle Cinco Charlie after that one blazed a fast early pace. Mr. Z may regress a bit off of his eventful trip. I Spent It and Rod McLeod had pre-race bullet works and should be at their best. Always beware of the Pletcher horse with the higher odds. Stanford should appreciate the extra distance.

#1 I Spent It (7-2)

#6 Nona’s Boy (4-1)

#7 Cinco Charlie (9-2)

#8 Stanford (12-1)

#5 Rod McLeod – longshot pick (alternate should one scratch)


Photos #1 & #2 by Eclipse Sportswire.