ITM analysis of the top 2-year-olds to watch from: August 22 – August 28
(* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
Conquest Titan (colt, Birdstone – Miner’s Secret by Mineshaft) – He’s one of three runners to emerge victorious out of a key race at Churchill Downs (June 30) won by Candy Dandy (Base Case Scenario, Dunkin Bend). After finishing fourth as the heavy favorite in that test, he followed up with a commanding front-running win on synthetic in the Swynford Stakes at Woodbine. Tuscan Getaway (Stroll) challenged early, but not for long, as this Mark Casse trainee extended his lead in the stretch and finished the seven furlongs in 1:23.64. It will be interesting to see the path he takes since he appeared to move up on the surface switch.
*Bon Accord (turf) (colt, Showing Up – Best Regards by Street Cry) – He’s 2 for 2 at Calder after powering home off a very fast pace in the Calder Turf Dash Stakes, his first try on turf. His other win was over a sloppy track. The Antonio Sano runner has yet to face top Florida-based competition, but he did best a field of 11 and mastered traffic issues in his third start. He’s still a question mark on fast dirt; in his lone start at Gulfstream he finished last. Interesting to note sire Showing Up switched to turf after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby and rejuvenated his career, winning prestigious races such as the Secretariat Stakes and the Hollywood Derby.
*My Brown Eyed Guy (gelding, With Distinction – Brown Eyed Woman by De Niro) – The talk of the Florida juvenile circuit, this Kathleen O’Connell runner keeps winning in his preferred front-running fashion. He hasn’t trailed a horse in his three wins from four career starts at Calder. Most recently, he topped the competition while stretching out to seven furlongs in the Florida Stallion Affirmed Stakes.
*Scandalous Act (filly, Act of Duty – Seductive Lady by Langfuhr) – Kathleen O’Connell is dominating the Calder 2-year-old scene. This Florida-bred filly has tallied two straight stakes wins, most recently the Florida Stallion Susan’s Girl Stakes at seven furlongs. Like her stablemate My Brown Eyed Guy, she favors running on the lead from the start. Her combined winning margin from the two stakes wins: 16 1/4-lengths. O’Connell also has Secret Kitten (Discreet Cat), a multi-surface winner who is 2 for 2 after winning the Catcharisingstar Stakes on turf.
*Brothersofthetime (colt, Bob and John – Hostility by Devil His Due) – The Florida-bred was tested in the late stages of the one-mile Seacliff Stakes by 18-1 shot East Hall (Graeme Hall), but he narrowly prevailed to record his third win in four starts. He was all out to hold off the challenger, but he was also wide on the turn.
Architecture (filly, Dixie Chatter – Harmony Creator by Yankee Gentleman) – This British Columbia-bred is two for four with two seconds and tallied her second straight stakes win in the CTHS Sales Stakes at Hastings.
Havana (colt, Dunkirk – Missy Turtle by Kyle’s Our Man) – One of the most impressive debut performances by the touted Todd Pletcher juvenile armada at Saratoga was delivered by this gray colt. He was challenged early by eager rival Kendall’s Boy (Sky Mesa), but drew off in the later stages of the five-and-a-half furlong test. His final time of 1:02.64 just missed the track record (1:02.51) and he didn’t appear very taxed by the effort. His pedigree is a bit of an adventure, as he’s by new sire Dunkirk, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in his short but classy career. His dam is the little-known Missy Turtle, an allowance winner at Philadelphia Park. Her sire, Kyle’s Our Man, won the Nashua and the Gotham and raced 13 times in an 8-month span. Dunkirk is off to a quick start with five wins from 21 of his first-crop runners. Kendall’s Boy is also one to watch from this race for trainer Tom Amoss.
Crown Queen (turf) (filly, Smart Strike – Delta Princess by A.P. Indy) – She didn’t win, but this third-place finish from off the pace was the type of debut you’d want to see from the half-sister of champion Royal Delta going 1 1/16-miles on grass at Saratoga. The educational experience of navigating through the traffic of a 10-horse field and settling behind pace setters Hillhouse High (Exchange Rate) and eventual winner Zinzay (Smart Strike) will be a benefit for her going forward. Turf could be her game, but that’s also a versatile pedigree. Also keep an eye on Nighttiming (Pioneerof the Nile) from this race, as the well-regarded filly had a rough start in which she lunged and spotted the field several lengths.
Sweet Daddy (turf) (colt, Scat Daddy – Candy Doll by Dushyantor) – This proved to be one of the “wow” debuts of the weekend at Indiana Downs for trainer Tom Amoss. Apprentice Dylan Davis smartly moved this newcomer through traffic in the turf sprint, and he responded by forging his way between horses like a pro. He showed no fear riding the rail for a bold move to seal the win in :57.79 for five furlongs. Intriguing pedigree screams turf and there’s substantial distance influence on the dam side through the Sadler’s Wells line.
Bardstown (ridgling, Stormy Atlantic – Forest Lady by Woodman) – Trainer Bob Hess is looking forward to big things from this New York-bred, who was a sharp second in his debut at Del Mar. Bardstown angled out into the stretch and rallied, but he couldn’t catch the impressive winner I Earned It Baby (Hard Spun). I Earned It Baby is also a prospect to watch, particularly on synthetic and turf, finishing the six furlongs in 1:10.01 for trainer Jerry Quinn.
Mei Ling (filly, Empire Maker – Lochinvar’s Gold by Seeking the Gold) – Appealing pedigree and a notable third-place finish for this Michael Hushion trainee, who closed the gap on the swift pace after a wide trip in the Saratoga sprint. She should appreciate more distance. Also to watch from this race are Potosi’s Silver (Badge of Silver), the Todd Pletcher runner who endured a miserable trip in which she was bumped hard at the start and also squeezed in on the rail. She wasn’t deterred and held on for second behind winner Gracer (Exchange Rate).
Ide Be Cool (colt, Ide – Cool Climate by Bowman’s Band) – This Louisiana-bred overcame a stumbling start in his debut and managed to remain close to the hot pace before taking over in the stretch. A solid time of 1:10.87 for the six furlongs against state-bred company.
*Bobbys Kitten (turf) (colt, Kitten’s Joy – Celestial Woods by Forestry) – The top two finishers of this race emerged from a key Saratoga race on turf won by Base Case Scenario (July 27). Bobby’s Kitten, third in that debut, bounced back with a head-turning wire-to-wire win at 1 1/16-miles for trainer Chad Brown. The most impressive aspect of his win was his natural cruising speed and the manner in which he separated himself from the field so easily in a route race. Stroll to Victory (Stroll), second in the key race, was a good second again and should move forward.
Ziggy the Great (turf) (colt, Langfuhr – Michele the Great by Distorted Humor) – Sharp debut by this New York-bred, who displayed a competitive spirit when he drove past the experienced Ainteasybeinggreen to win by a neck. He proved he can rate and won’t back down from a challenge.
Appreciating (turf) (filly, Sky Mesa – Hello Barbara Sue by Dehere) – While the other runners were struggling, this Mark Casse trainee with the speedy turf/synthetic pedigree was just getting into stride, driving past the field in a hand ride to win the seven-furlong test at Woodbine. She’s half-sister to multiple stakes winner Buddy’s Humor. A definite for the virtual stable.
Tamazula (filly, Two Step Salsa – Sleeping Bird by Strong Hope) – One of three recent winners for buzz sire Two Step Salsa, this Florida-bred filly was kept closer to the pace in her second start at Arlington Park, and she responded with a speedy win on the synthetic. The Armando De la cerda runner finished the five-and-a-half furlongs in 1:04.87.
Kellys Endeavour (filly, Kodiak Kowboy – Kelly’s Discovery by Cherokee Run) – What an impressive debut by the Pennsylvania-bred at Penn National. She romped by seven lengths in an effortless performance and crossed the wire in :58.69 for the five furlongs.
Sky Painter (turf) (filly, Street Cry – Skylighter by Sky Mesa) – The Kiaran McLaughlin barn has had an outstanding second half of the Saratoga meet, and this filly’s debut is one of the highlights. Last at the start, she embarked on a fast finish and caught favorite Super Sky (Sky Mesa), a half-sister to Princess Arabella and the heavy favorite, in the stretch. She was green at times but appeared to gain focus with a target in view. Her dam, Skylighter, was campaigned by Graham Motion and won the Indiana Oaks and the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes.
Cinmars Dance (colt, Cindago – Martika Tianna by Dance Brightly) – This California-bred boasts a long, fluid stride and looked quite impressive when he closed from last to third at 33-1 in his debut in the claiming ranks at Del Mar. The Eric Kruljac trainee, who wasn’t claimed, had the benefit of a swift pace, but he also made a bold move to split horses and was moving the best after the wire.
When I’m Calling U (filly, Northern Afleet – Indian Love Call by Cherokee Run) – A wide post in a five-and-a-half furlong test almost always spells doom, but this Steve Sherman runner made an impressive trek to finish second in her second start. She was tenth heading into the stretch but made a six-wide move on the synthetic to close ground. Second in two starts – including a loss to the talented She’s a Tiger (Tale of the Cat) in her debut – she won’t be a maiden long.
Cause Im a Bigshot (filly, Giant’s Causeway – Unbridled Ridge by Unbridled’s Song) – She launched a rally after stalking mid-pack and just missed second behind Antiquity (Pulpit) and Silver Sails (Henrythenavigator) at 15-1 in her debut in sprint at Del Mar. This Mike Mitchell runner looks perfectly tailored for more distance and could also move up on turf with that classic pedigree.
Da Burn (filly. Forestry – Firetrail by Defensive Play) – This Washington-bred emerged from a key race won by ITM Watch filly Charismata (Curlin) and followed up with an eye-catching 12-length romp at five-and-a-half furlongs. She finished in a solid 1:03.81. Her dam, Firetrail, won two stakes at Emerald Downs at a mile.
Stay in Front (turf) (filly, War Front – Grand September by Grand Slam) – This Chad Brown runner with the standout grass pedigree hit the gate at the start of her debut in a turf sprint at Saratoga and still managed to finish third, losing by about three-quarters of a length.
Dylan Ward (colt, Artie Schiller – Dami by Dynaformer) – He rated nicely and made a wide move when urged, finishing third in his debut going seven furlongs on synthetic at Woodbine. Pedigree suggests he could appreciate a stretch out and would also excel on turf.
Sine Metu (gelding, Rebellion – Villacora by Pulpit) – There’s something about this Ontario-bred that says future winner. He’s a late closer with a standout pedigree who likely just needs to stretch his legs at a longer distance, and he also boasts a running style suitable for distance races on turf. Sire Rebellion won the Ack Ack Stakes, the Commonwealth Stakes and was second in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile despite a bad start that left him last until the stretch run.
M S C Jet (filly, Da Stoops – Scheing E Jet by Unbridled Jet) – This New Jersey-bred had an excuse in her debut, as she didn’t care for the rail post and brushed the gate, resulting in an awkward start. She drew the widest post in his second start and fared much better, tracking off the pace and taking command to win the five-furlong test at Monmouth in :58.94.
Naughty Holiday (filly, Harlan’s Holiday – Mrs. Coolidge by Quiet American) – Last until the stretch run, this David Fawkes trainee – debuting against experienced foes – made up substantial ground to finish second to La Marquesse (Cowtown Cat) in a sprint at Gulfstream.
Poker Player (turf) (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Revel in the Win by Red Bullet) – One to watch next out as he made a nice late move for fourth in his debut at one-mile on turf at Arlington.
Shiva Ryan (turf) (colt, Tapit – Desert Queen by Wavering Monarch) – He was slow out of the gate in his debut against mostly experienced foes, but he gathered steam in the late stages of the one-mile test at Calder to finish third.