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.