ITM analysis of the top 2-year-olds to watch from: September 11 – September 18:
(* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
*Boji Moon (turf) (gelding, Cactus Ridge – Philadelphia Moon by Malibu Moon) – You first heard about this talented Iowa-bred here, where we tabbed him as one to watch after his memorable debut at Prairie Meadows in July. He’s now all the rage after his scintillating win in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile – his first try against open company and his first spin over turf. He handled the Kentucky Downs surface, which can be tricky, and showed a stellar late kick as he accelerated to the wire for a 5 1/4-length victory in the seven-furlong test. Granted, it was a short field and not top-tier juveniles, but it says a lot that the Chris Richard trainee handled the various new challenges thrown at him. He also finished in a sharp time of 1:23.24. Jockey Brian Hernandez, aboard for the first time, was very impressed with his performance. If he carves a path to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – possibly through the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland – he should not be discounted. The talent is there on both dirt and turf; the only question for this gelding is added distance.
My Conquestadory (turf) (filly, Artie Schiller – Golden Artemis by Malibu Moon) – Those eye-catching morning works, plus being scratched from the Natalma to face males instead, were two signs that this Mark Casse runner was ready to roll in her career debut in the Summer Stakes. You’d never know she was the only first-time starter in the field the way she motored from off the pace to cruise home for a 3 1/4-length win. The most impressive facet of the win was how she continued to expand her lead, with no regression, even in the gallop out. The final time of 1:34.81 was more than a second faster than Llanarmon (Sky Mesa) in the Natalma (1:35.89). She could have one more race before heading to the Breeders’ Cup.
Jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva had a confident post-race message: “I didn’t think about losing the race. It never came to my mind that she could be beat. I had great confidence in her and the whole (Casse) team said how nice she is. She’s a great filly.”
*Debt Ceiling (colt, Discreet Cat – Top Marks by Marquetry) – He bounced back from his disappointing sixth place showing in the Sanford Stakes, albeit against less daunting company in the First Dash Stakes at Delaware. This was an absolute jog for the Bashford Manor Stakes winner, who is now four of five for trainer John Robb; sharp final time of 1:03.76 for the five-and-a-half furlongs. Interesting to see if Robb keeps him sprinting or if he elects to stretch him out. His pedigree suggests he’d be most effective up to a mile.
*Hop the Six (filly, Artie Schiller – Pulpit Fiction by Pulpit) – She’s another Mid-Atlantic based runner who returned from a loss at Saratoga to post a victory in a stakes. She was fifth in the trouble-filled Adirondack Stakes, but rebounded to win a close finish in the Small Wonder Stakes at Delaware. Note the final time for the fillies (1:05.66) is much slower than Debt Ceiling’s win on the same day. She was one of two Artie Schiller fillies to win stakes over the weekend (My Conquestadory).
Lien on Kitten (turf) (filly, Kitten’s Joy – Mortgage the House by Chester House) – In just two races, this late closer has fine-tuned her running style: she sits far off early and accelerates with a late run in the stretch. The Wayne Catalano trainee surged past J J Julep (Harlan’s Holiday) to win the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies. She appeared a bit green in the stretch, but hard to tell if that was her or just an adjustment to the rolling turf course. Catalano: “She’s hopefully going to be our Breeders’ Cup filly.”
City by the Bay (filly, City Zip – Glitter Time by Glitterman) – Moving up to stakes company off her eye-catching debut win proved no problem for this William Morey trainee, as she strolled home unchallenged to win the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex in front-running fashion. Solid run for second by Harlington’s Rose (Harlington), who started from the widest post in the field of 10.
*Miss Scatalicious (filly, Scat Daddy – Follow the Lite by Lite the Fuse) – After she pulled off the shocker at 42-1 with a speedy debut win at Del Mar against some well-bred foes, she proved it was no fluke by following up with an easy, front-running win in the Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Barretts Fairplex. The stretch-out to seven furlongs and switch to dirt proved no issue for the Molly Pearson runner.
Almost Famous (colt, Unbridled’s Song – Wild Gams by Forest Wildcat) – Undoubtedly the most impressive performance by a juvenile colt or gelding so far in the September meet. Calvin Borel allowed a throng of horses to cluster up front, then smoothly guided the colt to the lead by way of the rail, where he developed a nice pace-setting rhythm. The Pat Byrne trainee set swift fractions (:22.54, :46.67)without much urging – and with Borel glancing back several times at the competition, which in the stretch run consisted only of Coastline (Speightstown), who was unable to match strides. He finished the six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.90 and kept going a considerable distance past the finish line. He didn’t look taxed after the race and, although energetic, remained professional during this debut.
His pedigree leans to middle distance, but this colt appears quite talented and classy. His dam was a fantastic sprinter who won multiple stakes including the Presque Isle Masters and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. He should be considered a top contender for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November. Although no match for the winner, Coastline is one to watch next out, as he was the only one from this field to keep pace.
Cool Cowboy (colt, Kodiak Kowboy – Grand Breeze by Grand Slam) – Speedy second start at Arlington for this Dale Bennett runner, who grabbed the early lead and extended his advantage without urging to romp by more than 12 lengths. He finished the five-and-a-half furlongs in 1:03.37 – the track record is 1:03.02 – with a final split of 6:39. This is a solid sprinter’s pedigree. It’s no surprise new sire Kodiak Kowboy’s progeny are ready early, as he was quite precocious, winning three stakes races in his 2-year-old year. The sire’s runners also appear to take after him in excelling on both dirt and synthetic.
Mexikoma (colt, Birdstone – Toccet Over by Toccet) – Pedigree suggested this Florida-bred would appreciate the move from turf to dirt and he was exiting a key race won by Base Case Scenario at Saratoga (July 27). What he did at Delaware Park, however, exceeded everyone’s expectations, as he rated perfectly before taking control in the stretch of the mile test and powering to a 14 3/4-length win. A professional second start – and a superb time of 1:37.61 – which led to him being purchased by Team Valor from owner/trainer Michael Dilger. Brad Weisbord of Team Valor reported via Twitter that a stakes race is likely next for the ownership group’s new prospect. He has a pedigree suitable for routing – and tailored for an off-track – but wields a high dosage (5.67).
*Give No Quarter (colt, Tiz Wonderful – Roadtohanna by Not For Love) – It was no surprise this Graham Motion runner would improve off a hard-fought second in a stretch duel in his debut – but did anyone expect this? Sagamore Racing’s Maryland-bred romped by 22 lengths when he stretched out to a mile on the Presque Isle synthetic. An athletic colt with a nice stride, he set moderate fractions while comfortably settled on the lead (:24.30, :48.23) and drew off with ease. A definite for the virtual stable. One of three juvenile winners for sire Tiz Wonderful in the last week; all romped by seven lengths or more.
Shadow Banking (turf) (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Rietondale by Dynaformer) – Although it was a small filed of unproven foes, the bold move this Chad Brown runner made on the turn from last – and his dominant finish in the 1 1/16-mile test at Belmont on debut – signal he’s one to watch moving forward, particularly if he stays on grass. That’s a strong router’s pedigree, and he handled a route first time out with ease. He’s a half-brother to Profiteroles and a full-brother to Stormy Len.
Brown said a quick turnaround for the Pilgrim Stakes on Oct. 6, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event, is possible. “Shadow Banking came out of his race real well. We’re running short on time getting him to the Breeders’ Cup. (The timing is) a little tight, but that’s what I’m planning on doing. He’s another one that didn’t look like he was fully extended in his race. He did it pretty easy, so hopefully he’ll be OK.”
*Poker Player (turf) (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Revel in the Win by Red Bullet) – Our evaluation from In the Money, August 28: “One to watch next out as he made a nice late move for fourth in his debut at one-mile on turf at Arlington.” The Wayne Catalano runner did exactly as expected at Kentucky Downs. He made up substantial ground in the stretch after starting 10th in a field of 11 and caught Mygalsal (Street Boss) in time. Although the final time of 1:39 for the mile is not notable, those weren’t easy fractions to close into (:26.88, :48.07). He lugged in during the stretch run, but as noted with Lien on Kitten, this is rather common on this undulating course.
Oogeley Eye (colt, Afleet Alex – Flirting Glances by Maria’s Mon) – Another longshot for Dale Romans and Team Donegal who outran his odds – and bettors’ expectations – when he rallied up the rail for second at 29-1 behind Kendall’s Boy (Sky Mesa). He wasn’t reaching the winner, who flattered top 2-year-old Havana (Dunkirk) with his 5 1/4-length victory, but that was an eye-catching closing rush from last. He boasts a pedigree that suggests he’ll improve with experience and added distance.
By comparison, this was the colt’s debut, and Kendall’s Boy was making his second start. Rosie Napravnik had to keep a headstrong Kendall’s Boy from taking off on the first turn, as he was somewhat rank when trying to rate three-wide off Pentafecta (Grand Slam)and Selway (D’Wildcat) before settling when on the lead. The final time of 1:12.03, with a final split of 13:45, was much slower compared to the Almost Famous heat earlier on the card.
*More Than Beauty (filly, More Than Ready – Brown Eyed Beauty by Miswaki) – We tabbed her as one to watch after her exciting debut win at Churchill Downs. She followed up with a second to Fiftyshadesofgold (My Golden Song) in the Debutante after dueling with that filly early through a swift pace. Toss her Prairie Gold Lassie performance, in which she was fifth as the favorite, as she stumbled badly at the start. The Cecil Borel trainee returned home to Churchill Downs and delivered a strong front-running win in a six-furlong allowance. She is best at her home track and when she can grab a quick, early lead.
Beau Ravelle (filly, Tiz Wonderful – Dixiana Delight by Gone West) – This determined filly, stuck mid-pack in a 12-horse field at Remington, pinned her ears back and pushed her way through traffic before she drew off to win by 8 1/2-lengths. A dazzling debut for this Scott Young trainee, who posted a sharp time of 1:09.54 for the six furlongs.
Stacked Deck (colt, First Samurai – Bel Air Beauty by Smart Strike) – After two starts on turf, this Barbara Minshall trainee switched to the synthetic at Woodbine and found success – which falls in line with what his synthetic-leaning pedigree would indicate. He stalked pacesetter Vincenzo the Bull, reeled him in and drew off to win by 6 1/2-lengths in the stretch of the six-and-a-half furlong test. Note he is out of Bel Air Beauty, who won the Alcibiades and the Pin Oak Valley View at Keeneland and was also owned by Bruce Lunsford.
Vexed (filly, Arch – Cross by Mighty) – A strong gallop out by this filly after she dominated a short field going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs. The Al Stall trainee, half-sister to Sign, indicated she wants to go longer and appreciated the switch from synthetic to dirt.
Wildcat Red (colt, D’Wildcat – Racene by Miner’s Mark) – Notable debut at Gulfstream by this Florida-bred Jose Garoffalo trainee, who set fast fractions on the lead (:22.86, :46.03) before he pulled away from the field to win by eight lengths. He covered the six-and-a-half furlongs in 1:16.97. He’s a half-brother to Racing Machine, a horse who was a top sprinter in Jamaica.
Jockey Edgard Zayas: “I’ve been working him for about a month and a half, and every time I work him he gets better and better and better. In the morning, he acts a little lazy, but every time I ask him he runs. . . Every time he felt a horse near him, he wouldn’t let him by. I knew he was going to run good. He’s been so good in the morning.”
Tea Time (filly, Pulpit – Asian Empress by Empire Maker) – Sweet Whiskey proved too much in her debut, but this Michael Matz trainee found her stride at Belmont in her second start. She notched an effortless front-running win in 1:09.58 for the six furlongs. Perfect pedigree for a stretch-out.
Afortable (turf) (colt, Fort Prado – Taxable Deduction by Prized) – Nice stride on this Chris Block trainee, who charged five-wide down the stretch to win his debut by a half-length in the one-mile test. He’s half-brother to Suntracer and Leading Astray. Incredible week for sire Fort Prado: three winners, all on turf, all Illinois-breds (Sunshine Caris, Big Tom Prado).
Block, who trained Fort Prado, compared Afortable to his successful siblings. “The way he moves on the racetrack is similar to a lot of them. Also, the way he comes along in his training and moves forward . . he’s a little more focused and ahead of the game than some of the others. He’s quite typical, otherwise, very focused and smart.
“I wasn’t worried about winning; I was worried about him figuring out what was going on. The more he went along in the race, the more he started to pick things up and focus. When (jockey) Eddie (Perez) reached back and hit him once, he really accelerated. It was not only a good race but a good learning experience. I went up there with a horse I thought would run well win, lose or draw. I just wanted to see him take a step forward we can move from.” Block said Afortable is likely to race next at Keeneland.
*Brays Secret (gelding, Denis of Cork – Be Quick Spice by Sea Salute) – An eventful trip for this Florida-bred, who was on the early pace but dropped back suddenly to fourth before re-rallying between horses for the win. Green in the stretch run – and it appears there was an equipment issue as well – he survived an inquiry to move to 2 for 2 at Presque Isle for trainer Thomas Cooper.
High Heel Kitten (turf) (filly, Kitten’s Joy – High Chant by War Chant) – Well-backed in her debut for trainer Chad Brown, she was pinched back at the start of the 1 1/16-mile test and was left last in a field of 10. She made up ground in the stretch despite going six-wide over the turf rated good. This is one to watch next out, particularly if she continues on grass; she’s a full-sister to Csaba.
Adellusion (filly, With Distinction – Starlet Note by Notebook) – A valiant effort to close the gap late and finish second to Maco Light (Silver Train) on synthetic at Arlington. The Michael Stidham runner had a troubled start that left her last and she should improve with this debut experience.
Repayment (filly, Unbridled’s Song – Credit Quality by Elusive Quality) – The Michael Trombetta runner made a bold move when jockey Scott Spieth guided her off the rail and placed her four-wide for a winning stretch rally in her debut at Presque Isle. Solid time of 1:04.13 for the five-and-a-half furlongs on synthetic. Quality pedigree.
Sing the Dream (colt, Songandaprayer – Out of My Dreams by Two Punch) – This New York-bred ran to his sprinter’s pedigree in his second start with a nine-length romp going six furlongs at Penn National. He’s a recognizable chestnut with a huge white blaze.
Roundupthelute (colt, Midnight Lute – In Secure by A.P. Indy) – The Bob Baffert trainee showed marked improvement with the move from Del Mar synthetic to dirt at Barretts Fairplex. He broke his maiden in the C. B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at seven furlongs; he’s a half-brother of Millionreasonswhy.
Turn N Strike (filly, Smart Strike – Not for Turning by Deputy Minister) – This fast-closing filly nearly caught Morant Bay (Badge of Silver) in her debut at Woodbine. The Malcolm Pierce trainee would like more than six-and-a-half furlongs and has a standout pedigree for success on synthetic.
Just Got Out (filly, Harlington – Moonshine Gal by Forest Wildcat) – Making her first start against all experienced rivals at Delaware, this filly didn’t take the easy route. With Abel Castellano aboard, she rallied from far off the pace, and it appeared she’d drive right by tiring Wendy Wow – instead, she darted to the inside path, and still passed the rival to win by a neck. (Sept. 11, race 1) http://www.delawarepark.com/racing/audio-video/
Commercial Flight (turf) (filly, Corinthian – Commercialize by Robyn Dancer) – She won’t be a maiden long. The Pat Byrne runner showed some serious acceleration in the stretch drive of her second start, a 6 1/2-furlong test at Kentucky Downs.
Lorjim (gelding, Wildcat Heir – Zul by North Prospect) – Sharp debut by this New Jersey-bred at Monmouth who is owned, trained and bred by Edwin Broome. Paco Lopez hardly moved in the saddle as the gelding found his stride in the turn and drove past leader Lulu Had a Baby (Sahara Heat). He’s half to successful New Jersey-bred gelding Lucky James.