ITM analysis of the top 2-year-olds to watch from: October 9 – October 16:
(* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
*Can the Man (colt, Into Mischief – Smolensk by Danzig) – After two disappointing starts in Grade 1 company, this Bob Baffert runner dropped to the $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita and toyed with the five-horse field. He appeared rejuvenated with the removal of blinkers, tracking the pace set by Hi Fashioned (Old Fashioned) before taking command and winning by 1 3/4-lengths in 1:09.53. While he’s proved he can rate off the pace and had energy to spare post-race, it appears he is best suited to 1 1/16-miles or less; Baffert addressed that after the Speakeasy.
Jockey Martin Garcia: “They took the blinkers off today, which I think helped. He took the lead today and was just waiting, waiting, and waiting and was just playing with them. He felt that horse on the inside coming (Hi Fashioned), and once they got close he took off again. He was just playing out there today.”
Baffert: “He was disappointing in the two-turn race (Grade I FrontRunner), so I thought this was the time to take the blinkers off and he drew perfectly (in post five) on the outside. . . (On Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) I don’t know. It’s two turns, it’s sort of tough. Right now I think one turn is his race. . . He’s still a young horse. He’s a nice horse and I think in time he’ll get it.”
*Bajan (filly, Speightstown – Critikal Reason by Aptitude) – She’s returned to her stellar form after a sixth-place effort with a bumpy trip in the Debutante. After three trips over synthetic, the Simon Callaghan trainee dazzled in her first race on dirt in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita. She dispatched four rivals and finished the six furlongs in 1:10.64, and she appears to favor this surface.
Jockey Victor Espinoza: “It was a great trip, a lot of fun actually. She set up the way I wanted. She’s amazing when she runs on the dirt. The last couple of times, when she ran on synthetic, she was a little bit down. She really loves to run on the dirt. Later on, she might stretch out. I think she’s improving right now. I’ll have to keep riding her a little bit all the way to the wire so that I teach her for the future, so hopefully we can go long.”
Callaghan: “I think she definitely prefers this surface here at Santa Anita. She kind of got away with it at Del Mar, but coming here, it’s much more to her liking. They went quick and Victor had a perfect trip. She’s a nice filly and she picked them up well.”
Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred (owners): “We haven’t thought about Breeders’ Cup at all to be honest, but the way she won in here makes me think that two turns isn’t totally out of the question. We were focused on this race and getting her back in form. Now that we won this, maybe we can start to think about that next step, but I’m not going to rush into any decisions at this point. We’ll wait and just have to see what happens.”
Courtesan (turf) (filly, Street Sense – Lady Discreet by Boundary) – A troubled trip that included some bumping in the stretch stymied her efforts in the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes going 1 1/16-miles at Keeneland. The Christophe Clement trainee made up the most ground of any runner in the 10-horse field, however, moving from eighth to third and gaining in the final furlong. This is a classy filly who broke her maiden in her second start, also a route race on turf, and was third over a sloppy track in her debut. Her pedigree indicates she would take well to a fast dirt surface.
Jockey Irad Ortiz: “I had a good trip. They were going pretty fast in the first part – a lot of speed horses in the race. So I waited and had to go a little wide, because I knew they were going to stop because they were going too fast. I didn’t want to be in trouble. I went a little outside and checked a little bit. She came running and ran good.”
Superb ride on the inside by Alan Garcia aboard winner Kitten Kaboodle (Kitten’s Joy), avoiding traffic trouble and keeping her in a perfect stalking position until the stretch. The Chad Brown trainee had posted two straight second-place finishes prior to this 4 3/4-length win in 1:44.01.
Garcia: “It was pretty easy. My filly broke good, and we saved all the ground we could. Turning for home, when I saw the hole on the inside, I said, ‘Let me ask her,’ and she took off.”
Two horses to watch for a cutback in distance on grass are the talented Richies Party Girl (Any Given Saturday) and Zip On (City Zip).
*Best Plan Yet (colt, Hear No Evil – Bayou Plans by Bayou Hebert) – The Stanley Gold trainee dethroned My Brown Eyed Guy (With Distinction) as top 2-year-old male on the Florida circuit after his dominating win in the In Reality Stakes at Calder.
Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez: “I worked very hard with the horse. The last time he won he surprised me, and I said ‘Okay, this time I will take him back, but not too far back.’ I tried to put him behind the speed and when he was ready, let him go. He’s unbelievable.”
No excuses for My Brown Eyed Guy, who finished an uncharacteristic ninth (last).
Trainer Kathleen O’Connell after the race via calderracecourse,com: “He seems like he will be fine. Maybe he will need the turf, or not to go as long, but he seemed like he would be fine this morning.” http://www.calderracecourse.com/news/archives/best-plan-yet-wins-reality-division-florida-stallion-stakes
*Scandalous Act (filly, Act of Duty – Seductive Lady by Langfuhr) – This Kathleen O’Connell trainee never trailed a horse in three straight victories in the Florida Stallion series: the Desert Vixen at six furlongs, the Susan’s Girl at Seven furlongs and the My Dear Girl at 1 1/16-miles. She won the trio by a combined 20 lengths and is 4 of 5 for her career – undoubtedly the top 2-year-old filly on the Florida circuit. She’s the first filly to sweep the series since Awesome Feather in 2010.
O’Connell hinted after the race that the half-sister of Affluent Lady and Two Ts at Two B could be headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
*Countess Bling (filly, Too Much Bling – Awesome Eve by Awesome Again) – We tabbed this gray filly as one to watch and she rewarded with a win at 23-1 against colts and geldings in the Juvenile Stakes at Thistledown – her first start on dirt – for trainer Timothy Hamm.
*Needmore Flattery (filly, Flatter – Kiosk by Left Banker) – Her name suits her as she deserves more spotlight. The Ohio-bred is 6 of 7 in her young career for trainer Timothy Hamm. Her lone loss was her only start on synthetic against males in the Fitz Dixon Memorial Juvenile; otherwise, she’s perfect on the Ohio circuit and she usually wins by double-digits. In her most recent outing, the John W. Galbreath Stakes at Thistledown, she romped by more than 18 lengths.
*Architecture (filly, Dixie Chatter – Harmony Creator by Yankee Gentleman) – Arabella’s Muse (Finality) proved too much for her last out in the Sadie Diamond Futurity, but she bounced back with a win in the Fantasy Stakes at Hastings while stretching out to 1 1/16-miles. She’s not finished worse than second in six starts.
Tap It Rich (ridgling, Tapit – Gold Canyon by Mr. Prospector) – The talk of racing pundits last weekend, this Bob Baffert runner caught everyone’s eye with his appealing debut at a mile at Santa Anita. He got off to a woeful start as he hopped in front of the gate and was left at the back of the pack. With Closet E (Street Sense) and Hold Everything (Corinthian) guiding the quick pace, this gray worked his way up the stretch under Mike Smith and moved into contention along with closing Candy Boy (Candy Ride). Tap It Rich turned on the acceleration and drew off to win by more than four lengths in 1:36.78. He displayed athleticism and determination against a field that included several more experienced foes. He’s half-brother of Adriano, winner of the Lane’s End and the Kent Stakes who was 19th in the Kentucky Derby in 2008. Baffert said the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is under consideration.
America (filly, A.P. Indy – Lacadena by Fasilyev) – This highly regarded Bill Mott trainee, owned by renowned chef Bobby Flay, turned things around when she moved from a route on turf to a mile test on dirt at Belmont. She showed little in that debut on grass at Saratoga, but it was a different story second time out. She waited patiently behind the moderate pace before becoming aggressive in the stretch, comfortably settling into stride and powering to the lead while holding off Mei Ling (Empire Maker). The future looks bright for another A.P. Indy juvenile.
Miss Melinda (filly, Malibu Moon – Black Escort by Southern Halo) – Outstanding debut by this Bill Mott trainee, who grabbed the lead and won easily at Belmont. She covered the six-and-a-half furlongs in 1:17.24. The field was mostly newcomers, but the manner in which she won at first asking is notable.
Pablo Del Monte (colt, Giant’s Causeway – One Hot Wish by Bring the Heat) – Fresh off the six-month layoff, this Wes Ward trainee moved his career record to 2 for 2 at Keeneland with an eye-catching romp at 7 1/2-furlongs. With blinkers on, he dictated the early pace and cruised home untested in a spicy 1:15.55. Both of his races were won with the early lead, so it will be interesting to see if he is comfortable tracking pace in the future. A surface switch would also be intriguing as his pedigree is tailored for synthetic, but also indicates he should handle longer distances.
Pablo Del Monte is being pointed to the Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov. 23. Ward: “This will give him some time.”
*Hollywood Talent (colt, Talent Search – Intrinsic Value by Johannesburg) – After solid performances in the Bashford Manor and Sanford Stakes, he regressed in the ungraded Matt McDermott Stakes at Presque Isle, but it’s quite likely he didn’t appreciate the switch to synthetic. He rebounded with a stellar showing when returning to dirt and dropping to allowance level at Parx, winning a six-furlong test easily in 1:09.50. Interesting to note he was scratched from a race at Keeneland in favor of Parx; a sharp sprinter to watch on dirt.
Touch the Star (turf) (filly, Tapit – Willstar by Nureyev) – This Bill Mott filly flashed potential in a fourth-place finish in her debut at Belmont Park. The pedigree suggests she will appreciate longer distances. Solid win by Miss Loretta Lynn (Mineshaft) in 1:08.89 in what could shape up to be a key grass race.
Galton (colt, Offlee Wild – Nibbana by Giant’s Causeway) – He got caught in a bit of a traffic jam in his Keeneland debut, won by Myositis Dan (Istan), but once he forged through, he was running well late. Outstanding gallop out. He’s one to watch next out for trainer Andrew McKeever,
Final Step (gelding, In Summation – Pentelicus Gold by Pentelicus) – A scintillating switch off the synthetic to dirt as he showed major improvement in his second start. The Florida-bred, trained by Peter Miller, snatched the early lead and extended his advantage to the wire in the 5 1/2-furlong test at Santa Anita; final time of 1:03.05.
Hillhouse High (turf) (filly, Exchange Rate – Pleasant Laughter by Coronado’s Quest) – Her company lines are starting to develop as her debut at Saratoga is evolving into a key race (July 22). They couldn’t catch this Chad Brown trainee in her third start, a mile trip at Belmont in which she dictated the pace and had plenty left after the wire.
High Wire Kitten (turf) (filly, Kitten’s Joy – Littlebitoflove by High Yield) – The Wes Ward trainee just missed with her late closing effort, losing by a nose at the wire in her debut going a mile on the Keeneland turf. She’ll be heavily backed next out.
Pentafecta (gelding, Grand Slam – Easy to Tell by Tale of the Cat) – A strong front-running win second time out for this Bret Calhoun trainee, who crossed the line in 1:10.26 for the six furlongs at Indiana Downs. He was third in his debut at Churchill Downs behind Kendall’s Boy (Sky Mesa) and Oogeley Eye (Afleet Alex).
*Naïve Enough (filly, Street Sense – Light From Above by A.P. Indy) – A stumbling start that left her last in the field of six didn’t hamper her ability to re-rally and win her second straight race. The Ignacio Correas runner overcame the difficult start in the mile test at Laurel to power past the field in the stretch.
Flipcup (filly, Milwaukee Brew – Dream Affair by Touch Gold) – This New York-bred is serving notice at Woodbine for trainer Brian Lynch. She’s 2 for 2 at the track and prefers to come from off the pace.
*Wildcat Red (colt, D’Wildcat – Racene by Miner’s Mark) – We tabbed this half-brother of Racing Machine as one to watch after he romped in his debut. He followed up with another speedy victory at Gulfstream when he cut back to six furlongs, tracked the pace and won impressively in 1:10.57 for trainer Jose Garoffalo.
Perky Kitten (turf) (colt, Kitten’s Joy – Love Runs Deep by Not For Love) – No need to tout any Kittens at Keeneland, of course, but this fourth-place finisher is one to monitor after he was hampered by a bumpy start and rallied six-wide in his debut at a mile for trainer Mike Maker.
Street Sailing (turf) (filly, Street Boss – Sailing Free by Mizzen Mast) – With that pedigree, it’s no wonder this Pennsylvania-bred, trained by William Helmbrecht, kicked it up a notch in her first start on grass. She’d performed well in maiden races on synthetic at Presque Isle, but this runaway win at Keeneland showed her preferred surface. Another winner to emerge from the Mark McDermott Stakes at Presque Isle (Hollywood Talent).
Place Card (filly, Lemon Drop Kid – Two Halos by Saint Ballado) – This Graham Motion trainee is one to watch for the future after she rallied from last to finish third in her debut, a six-furlong test on synthetic at Keeneland. Also to watch from this race, won by Aurelia’s Belle (Lemon Drop Kid), is Wicked Temper (Tapit), a Dale Romans trainee who should improve with experience and could also step up on a switch to dirt or turf.
Exit Interview (filly, Notional – Interviewing by Allen’s Prospect) – This Pennsylvania-bred is 2 for 2 at Parx and has won those races by a combined 12 2/3-lengths.
Bolita Boyz (colt, Act of Duty – Startsruck Vicky by Langfuhr) – Steady improvement by the Florida-bred, who won his second straight race at Calder, a 6 1/2-furlong test, by more than eight lengths.
G Note (turf) (filly, Medaglia d’Oro – Seeking the Ante by Seeking the Gold) – A late wide rally resulted in a fourth-place finish in her debut going seven furlongs on grass at Belmont Park. The John Kimmel trainee should move up with more distance and has a perfect pedigree for dirt.
Smart Ashley (turf) (filly, Smart Strike – Awesome Ashley by Unbridled’s Song) – She showed improvement on the move to grass at Keeneland in her second start. The George Arnold runner launched a rally at the rail but was a bit squeezed on the inside, finishing third behind winner Fawaarek (Smart Strike). She could improve with a better trip next time out.
Super Fantasy (turf) (filly, War Chant – No Beans by Unreal Zeal) – This Manuel Azpurua trainee has found a new home on the turf – she’s 2 for 2 since switching to grass and won her most recent test at 1 1/16-miles without much urging.
Brown Rice (filly, Big Brown – Saffronista by Ecton Park) – This late closer adeptly weaved her way through traffic and skimmed across the sloppy surface to get up just in time in the mile test at Laurel that was originally slated for turf. After a lackluster debut, she was dropped to the claiming ranks and switched to turf, where she appeared rejuvenated and finished a strong second. It could be she just needed a race to get accustomed – or she could need these softer surfaces to flourish.
Ginger Swirl (filly, Hard Spun – Ginger Bay by Golden Missile) – She covered substantial ground in her debut to rally from eighth in a 10-horse field to finished second behind Russian Jewel (Wildcat Heir). An A-plus gallop out for the Brian Lynch trainee.
Danzig Storm (colt, Distorted Humor – La Suena by Storm Cat) – The lone first-time starter in a six-furlong race on synthetic at Woodbine, this Mark Casse runner flashed potential when he rallied from last to second behind a swift early pace. This colt should appreciate a stretch out and pedigree suggests he’ll improve on a switch to dirt.
Coteau Rouge (colt, Tale of the Cat – Character Builder by Coronado’s Quest) – This colt could be a force on the Louisiana circuit; he looked quite promising in his debut at Delta Downs for trainer Patrick Devereux, blazing five furlongs in :58.28. He looked like he wanted to go around again after the race. He’s half-brother of Little Ms Protocol, the 2011 2-year-old Louisiana Filly of the Year and a multiple stakes winner on this circuit who was also trained by Devereux.
Shudaboughther (turf) (filly, Artie Schiller – Hot ‘n Dusty by Unusual Heat) – Behold that superb turf pedigree. This Eddie Plesa runner was game in defeat in her debut at Gulfstream. Tough assignment to go 1 1/16-miles first time out, yet she maintained on the pace and only gave way just before the wire. Longer distances likely won’t be her forte, but it’s easy to envision this young prospect dominating at a mile.