ITM analysis of the top 2-year-olds to watch from: October 2 – October 9:
(* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
*Honor Code (colt, A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat by Storm Cat) – Although he lost the Grade 1 Champagne by a neck to gritty Havana (Dunkirk), there was no shame in his fast-closing wide run from last in the mile test. The Shug McGaughey trainee proved his debut win in the slop was a legitimate indicator of his ability and class. He should excel when stretching out beyond this distance; the only drawback is he has shown only one dimension with the late-closing run, and that could be compromised by pace. Sharp win by Todd Pletcher’s Havana, who snatched the early lead from Debt Ceiling (Discreet Cat) and endured a taxing pace (:22.87, :45.54), but he obviously appeared tired in the stretch – even swishing his tail and losing focus while on the lead. Havana likely has distance limitations that could catch up to him as a 3-year-old. Outstanding run by Ride on Curlin (Curlin) for third; the connections were smart to keep him on dirt where he will likely excel at longer distances. How in the world was he 17-1? Casiguapo (Sightseeing) continues to outrun his odds, finishing a very distinguished fourth at 36-1. Final time: 1:35.81.
Todd Pletcher on Havana: “Anytime you go from 5 ½ (furlongs) to a mile and do it against the type of horses he was in with today, it’s always a concern. We did a similar thing with Uncle Mo (in the 2010 Champagne), the difference being that was six (furlongs) to a mile. I think it takes a pretty special horse to do it. I’m proud of his effort today. We knew we were asking him a lot, but we were doing it because we liked him a lot.”
Irad Ortiz on Havana: “He got a little tired at the end, but he was still running.”
Shug McGaughey on Honor Code: “Having to go wide probably cost us the race, but Havana got the jump at the head of the stretch and opened up, and we were unlucky to not catch him. I thought it was an awfully big effort for a horse of his type who is just learning and is kind of lazy in the first part until you do ask him.”
NYRA reports McGaughey said Honor Code might skip the Breeders’ Cup.
“You’d always like to go to the Breeders’ Cup, but he’s a young horse and it’d be only his third start. He’d have to ship to do it. Would the Remsen be the better spot for him at Aqueduct in his learning process? Obviously, next spring would be our main objective. Whatever (owners Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm) want to do is going to be fine with me.”
*My Conquestadory (filly, Artie Schiller – Golden Artemis by Malibu Moon) – This special filly proved her talent and ability when she defeated males in her debut, the Grade 2 Summer Stakes. Shipping to Keeneland, stretching out to 1 1/16-miles. switching from turf to synthetic – would she overcome all the daunting obstacles? She did that and more, finding her way out of traffic trouble to zoom home an impressive winner in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades.
Lodged in the back of the pack of the 12-horse field, she was trapped behind a wall of horses on the inside until the stretch run. She launched a jaw-dropping rally from 10th to pass her foes with an immense turn of foot over the new surface and won going away by 1 3/4-lengths in 1:45.61. She doesn’t seem to be deterred by extended distance and is a multi-surface threat. Just one question remains: can she master dirt? A decision looms for trainer Mark Casse, who must decide between the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf.
Casse: “This is a filly that never has set foot on a dirt track. We are going to Churchill Downs this (Sunday) morning and we have a month. It is still to be determined and if I had to decide today, it would be 100 percent turf. But if it is dirt, it would not be for the money, it would be for the (2-year-old filly) championship.”
Jockey Eurico Da Silva: “She didn’t break sharp, but she was very, very relaxed. I was worried in the middle of the turn because there were so many fillies in front of me, but every time I need her, she was just galloping. I was waiting for a hole, and every time it opened a little bit, I put her in. In the stretch when we had a free run, she just ran so easy. She’s a very nice filly.”
Outstanding effort by ITM Horse to Watch Rosalind to grab second from an outside post after a wide trip. She did seem to struggle a bit with the surface and is one to watch on return to turf or dirt.
Trainer Kenny McPeek hopes My Conquestadory opts to go on grass at Santa Anita. “(Rosalind) is a pretty special filly and we are looking at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on dirt. There are two reasons: I don’t want to go a mile (in the Juvenile Fillies Turf) and I don’t want to face the winner from (Friday) again.”
A detailed update from Landaluce Educe Stables on Rosalind: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=674986625852841&set=a.346143468737160.89728.330138613670979&type=1&theater
*Sweet Reason (filly, Street Sense – Livermore Leslie by Mt. Livermore) – The Spinaway winner was stymied by a terrible start in the Grade 1 Frizette, her first start on a fast dirt track. She broke well in her debut when starting from the rail post, but things didn’t go as smoothly this time as she veered sharply toward the rail and spotted the field several lengths. Despite the setback, she reappeared in the stretch with that trademark late kick and almost caught victor Artemis Agrotera (Roman Ruler). Sweet Reason, trained by Leah Gyarmati, proved she can handle a fast dirt surface after two wins over a sloppy track. New York-bred Artemis Agrotera also had something to prove: her 11-length debut romp was no fluke, either. Final time for the mile test: 1:36.25.
Gyarmati: “It was a remarkable race. Obviously, she didn’t get a very good start. She’s already a horse that’s going to be back a little bit, so it cost us probably five, six lengths. She proved she could handle a fast track, she was six wide, and she spotted the field several lengths at the start, so I’m very impressed with her.”
Both Sweet Reason and Artemis Agrotera are likely for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
O’Neill: “She’s such a nice filly. Raffy (Bejarano) said he sensed speed was holding, so he didn’t want to give her too much to do. He had her a little closer up today and she responded well. Breeders’ Cup here we come. As long as she stays injury-free, that’s the goal.”
Bejarano: “The speed was holding all day, so I didn’t want to be too far back. I tried to stay closer to the speed and get her comfortable. She didn’t show me the big kick that she normally does, but she still ran well. I think from here on it will only be better for me because there will be more speed and more competition.”
Runner-up Nesso (Roman Ruler), who was also second to Clenor last out in the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf, is also possible for the Breeders’ Cup.
*Bobby’s Kitten (turf) (colt, Kitten’s Joy – Celestial Woods by Forestry) – Absolute domination by this Chad Brown trainee – named for late trainer Bobby Frankel – in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at 1 1/16-miles on the Belmont turf. We tabbed him as one to watch after his third-place debut in a key race on grass at Saratoga and, since then, he’s reeled off two impressive wins. He is a leading candidate for top pick in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Brown’s other runner in the Pilgrim, Shadow Banking (Harlan’s Holiday), was running well late after a slow start left him last.
According to NYRA, Brown plans to send both colts to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf if they are healthy.
Brown: “Second time out, we learned (Bobby’s Kitten) was capable of leaving early and finishing. He has speed and can carry it, which makes him dangerous. Javier (Castellano) came out and worked him the other day and really liked the horse and accepted the mount on him. He said, ‘I want to go out. I’m not going to worry what anybody else is doing. I’m going to ride my race. I’m real confident.’ He rode that way.
Brown on Shadow Banking: “Considering the short rest he was on – I prefer that 31-60 day window, especially with my grass horses – he was looking a little bouncy, but he was able to pull through a slow pace and still get up for second. Now I have a little bit more time for his third start.”
Testa Rossi (turf) (filly, Dr. Fong – Peggy Lane by Dancing Spree) – She arrived in the U.S. from France boasting a three-race win streak and moved into the barn of trainer Chad Brown, who had her perfectly prepared for the Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes on the Belmont turf. The filly moved from 10th heading into the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile test to lead and she held off a late-charging Sky Painter (Street Cry). Testa Rossi had energy to spare as she crossed the wire in a hand ride while others were all out to reach her. She might not be one for long distances, but this middle distance range is her game. Interesting to note Testa Rossi recorded a final time of 1:41.73 and a final split of 5:88, better than the males in the Pilgrim (1:42.37, 6:21).
Chad Brown: “Testa Rossi’s works were good, they weren’t great, but you know what? She’s a good-looking horse, she’s got good form and every week she seems to be improving. I have a bunch of these fillies and I picked the two I thought would give me the best chance to win, and she was one of them.”
Sky Painter remains one to watch as well as third-place finisher Dancing House (Tapit), who is out of multiple graded stakes winner Tout Charmant. Granny Mc’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy), also trained by Brown, was surging until she had to check off heels, so her fourth-place finish was actually much better than it looks on paper. She’s one who could rebound next out.
Arctic Slope (colt, Van Nistelrooy – Alpine Spring by Coronado’s Quest) – It’s not easy to close from last on a synthetic track that’s taken a record amount of rainfall in one afternoon, but that’s exactly what this Ken McPeek runner did to finish third in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. The track was visibly loaded with pools of water, and that affected the performances of some of the contenders in the 12-horse field. This colt made up the most ground in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile test and, although a bit green, showed potential. His maiden-breaking win in his second start, a 1 1/16-mile test at Churchill Downs on Sept. 14, was impressive and he was second in his debut at Saratoga to the talented Bashart.
Winner We Miss Artie (Artie Schiller) bounced back from his sixth-place disappointment as the favorite in the With Anticipation on turf and won from off the pace in 1:46.91. Interesting to note that owner Ken Ramesy originally wanted to go in the Cup and Saucer at Woodbine, but was convinced by Pletcher to go here (more: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20131005/SPORTS08/310050157/1037/sports/Keeneland-Stakes-Ramseys-bounce-back-victory-Dixiana). We Miss Artie and Darley Alcibiades winner My Conquestadory both carried the banner for sire Artie Schiller over the weekend. Also to watch from the race is runner-up Smarty’s Echo (Smarty Jones), an Arlington Park shipper who had a tough trip on the inside, where the water pooling was heavy. He still managed a strong gallop-out. The top three finishers all started from far outside posts (12, 13, 10 respectively).
Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. on Arctic Slope: “My horse kind of hopped a bit on the first jump, left on his back legs. But then they went fast enough (and) I thought I’d be a little closer at first, but they were going so fast I think I would have ended up where I was anyway. From there, I more or less followed Johnny (Velazquez on winner We Miss Artie) around there. The rail was really heavy with a lot of water on it, so I wanted to keep my horse more toward the outside. He ran on well. It seems like he’ll run all day long.”
Jockey Mario Gutierrez on Rum Point (Malibu Moon), fourth: “It was kind of a weird trip. Everybody was trying to pick the perfect spot. The inside rail was full of water, the outside too, but everyone was pushing each other to the outside. My horse handled the track pretty good after all. He’ll get better after this one. He has a lot of room to improve.”
*Poker Player (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Revel in the Win by Red Bullet) – The Bourbon Stakes was taken off the turf and moved to the synthetic track, which remained saturated after record rainfall. Many runners in the race showed visible difficulty handling the track, so this could be a toss race for some of these contenders who will prefer dirt and firm turf in the future. One colt who relished the soggy going was this Wayne Catalano trainee, who did his best running late in the 1 1/1/16-mile test. He remained positioned in the back of the pack of the 13-horse field until the stretch run, when he powered past a tiring Bashart (War Front) to win by a length in 1:43.46. This is a multi-surface talent who also boasts a nice win on turf at Kentucky Downs. Keep an eye on All Cash (English Channel), who tried to rally up the rail but couldn’t reach the leaders and finished fourth. All Cash is better on turf and was third behind Pilgrim winner Bobby’s Kitten at Saratoga.
Jockey Channing Hill on Poker Player: “He put me in a really good spot, just even down the backside when he broke so well. He relaxed nice into the backside. He got a little jumbled down the backside and into the turn, but he really matured even from the last race at Kentucky Downs into today. He really found himself and when I took him out I knew that we were going to be really tough to beat. He was a still a little green (early in the race), but he was absolutely professional getting to the wire.”
John Velazquez on Bashart: “We had a decent enough trip. They kind of backed up right in my face on the backstretch and I was finally able to pull him out and tried to get him to relax behind the other two horses. Then outside, another horse made a premature move and that cost me a little bit. . . When he took the lead, he pulled up. He was looking out in the infield and the horse coming on the outside he didn’t even pay attention to; he just kept looking in the infield.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana on All Cash: “My horse put in a beautiful (effort). I was stopped everywhere. I tried to find him some room. I tried to find a hole. But my horse still tried to finish nice.”
It was a disappointing effort from favorite Boji Moon (Cactus Ridge), who went into the race undefeated and was making his first start on synthetic. Boji Moon was wide into the turn while competing with the leaders for the early pace, then faded.
Trainer Chris Richard on Boji Moon: “He broke really good and got himself into the race early. I don’t think he was quite into the bit as he normally is. That was a little concern of mine. The surface was a question mark with him. I am not going to use it as an excuse. I don’t think it is his favorite kind of footing. I think he will be able to get two turns, but not on (all-weather) footing.
“Our goal with him has always been the spring races (at Oaklawn Park). We’ll probably give him a break and point for that series.”
*Life is a Joy (gelding, Globalize – Tadita by Indian Charlie) – This California-bred can track the pace or win gate to wire, likes synthetic or dirt and is three for three after a romp in the Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno.
*Flay Mignon (filly, Yesbyjimminy – Forest Retreat by Forest Camp) – Never a nervous moment for this New Jersey-bred, who moved her record to three for four at Monmouth Park with an easy win in the Jersey Juvenile Stakes. Jockey Paco Lopez didn’t have to move a muscle as this filly pinned her ears back and persevered to the wire in the six-furlong race.
Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr.: “She’s one of the nicest 2-year-olds in the barn. She’s shown how good she is and that she can run on anything.”
*Ami’s Holiday (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Victorious Ami by Victory Gallop) – He beat just three rivals in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes – her first try in stakes company in her second start – but it wasn’t easy. Big Bazinga (Bluegrass Cat) looked home free until this Josie Carroll trainee rallied from third to catch him late in the stretch for a victory in the 1 1/16-mile test on synthetic. Top all-weather pedigree on this Ontario-bred.
Unspurned (filly, Lemon Drop Kid – Banga Ridge by Snow Ridge) – She couldn’t reach eye-catching winner Madly Truly (Malibu Moon) in the Mazarine Stakes, but she had an excuse for her slow start (stumbled) and rallied five-wide to be in the mix late. She was lengths ahead of her foes on the gallop out as well. Toss her previous race on turf, the Natalma Stakes, as she was involved in the unfortunate incident involving a fallen rival.
Lady Paradime (filly, Parading – In for a Dime by Include) – The video of this filly’s amazing second start at Delaware Park went viral on Oct. 3. She dropped to her nose at the start at the rail post, stumbled badly and almost lost jockey Angel Serpa. She appeared out of the race after being outdistanced by double-digit lengths early – until, at the turn, she began to gain momentum and raced down the stretch to beat leader Riviera Romper by a half-length. One of the most amazing performances by a juvenile we’ve seen this season. She’s one of a few early winners for new sire Parading.
*Super Sky (filly, Sky Mesa – Tortuga Lady by Thunder Gulch) – She bounced back from the loss to Sky Painter, the valiant runner-up in the Miss Grillo, with a sharp win over the soggy synthetic going seven furlongs at Keeneland. This Todd Pletcher trainee, a half-sister to Princess Arabella, seemed to like the stretch-out and is improving with each race.
*Coastline (colt, Speightstown – Culinary by El Amante) – It was no surprise this Mark Casse trainee took a step forward and broke his maiden at second asking in a seven-furlong test at Keeneland. The gray colt was the only one who kept pace with the talented newcomer Almost Famous (Unbridled’s Song) on Sept. 13 at Churchill Downs. While he’s sprint-heavy on the sire side, his dam, Culinary, won several stakes – including the Arlington Washington-Lassie – and her optimal distance was 1 1/16-miles.
Cairo Prince (colt, Pioneerof the Nile – Holy Bubette by Holy Bull) – This first-time starter for Kiaran McLaughlin sat off a moderate pace (:23.12, :45.16) and maintained his advantage in the stretch over favorite Harpoon (Tapit) to win the six-furlong test at Belmont in 1:10.21. Harpoon endured a bit of an odd trip, moving from an inside position behind horses early to the outside of Cairo Prince and Yankee Dime in a three-way duel for the pace. Harpoon was rank throughout, often bumping and weaving; he’s one to watch for improvement with removal of the blinkers. Cairo Prince is out of multiple stakes winner Holy Bubette, a well-traveled mare who was best sprinting.
Prepared (filly, Giant’s Causeway – Pension by Seeking the Gold) – In her second start for trainer Kellyn Gorder – a 1 1/16-mile test at Keeneland – this filly tracked a tepid pace (:24.70, :50.57) and caught the leader in the stretch after a wide rally to win by a length. While the early fractions and final time (1:46.88) were
slow, the final split of 6:04 is solid. She was primed to improve off a solid third-place effort sprinting in her debut, and she boasts a pedigree well-suited for routing on synthetic and grass. Favorite Streethomealabama (Street Sense) was hampered by a bobble at the start and managed second.
Loufoque (turf) (filly, Malibu Moon – Just Reward by Deputy Minister) – A very promising debut by this Richard Mandella trainee, 22-1, going six-and-a-half furlongs on the downhill turf at Santa Anita. She closed with a rush and almost nailed the winner on the wire; A-plus gallop out. It’s unlikely we’ll see those generous odds again for this half-sister to Personal Ensign winner Persistently.
Sheikinator (colt, Curlin – Im a Dixie Girl by Dixie Union) – The lone first-time starter in the seven-horse field of the 1 1/16-mile test at Keeneland was easy to spot. He broke very awkwardly at the start, spotted the field several lengths and trailed early in the race. The Ken McPeek runner didn’t give in, however, as he passed rivals one by one in the stretch before falling shy to winner Dobra Historia (Unbridled’s Song). A strong performance considering the difficult start and the two-turn distance; he’s one who could improve with a switch to dirt.
Cabo Cat (turf) (colt, Kitten’s Joy – Sway by Swain) – He proved much the best in his debut when he forged his way through a narrow spot between horses and put some distance between himself and the rest of the field. A flashy chestnut with strong acceleration, this is a definite for the virtual stable from the Mark Hennig barn.
Rare Eagle (colt, Birdstone – Brite Diamond by Deputy Minister) – Sluggish at the start of his debut for trainer Tom Albertrani, he started to show interest late in the 1 1/16-mile test at Belmont and moved up the rail for third at 45-1. This is a long-distance pedigree that would also excel on an off track.
Access to the Moon (filly, Malibu Moon – Access Fee by Menifee) – Nice stride on this Lawrence Murray trainee, who came bounding down the stretch to win her six-furlong debut at Laurel by a nose.
Belly of the Whale (colt, Red Giant – Miss Nashwan by Nashwan) – He remains one to watch after his runner-up finish to Here’s Johnny (Colonel John) in his first try at routing and debut on synthetic at Keeneland. The Christophe Clement trainee’s debut win at Saratoga is shaping up to be a key race.
Tepin (filly, Bernstein – Life Happened by Stravinksy) – The Mark Casse runner was fourth as the favorite in her debut at Churchill Downs, but the switch to synthetic worked in favor of the half-sister to Vyjack. She muscled her way between horses in the stretch to grab the lead and didn’t falter with a 3 1/4-length win in the seven-furlong race. Bernstein progeny are ones to watch first-time synthetic and sprinting on turf.
Fingers Crossed (turf) (filly, Elusive Quality – Ruth E by A.P. Indy) – She showed substantial improvement switching from dirt to turf and stretching out to a route. This Kiaran McLaughlin trainee won’t be a maiden long, particularly if she stays on grass.
Smiling Charlie (turf) (colt, Pulpit – Pro Pink by Touch Gold) – Second to Mexikoma in his monster performance, this McLean Robertson trainee put on a show of his own when he returned to turf and powered home to a 6 3.4-length win at Delaware Park.
Morning Lily (filly, Thunder Gulch – Goodgollymisspolly by Lil E. Tee) – Last at the start of her debut at Remington Park, this Steve Hobby runner did her best running late and made up ground to finish fifth. She should improve with experience.
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