ITM analysis of the top 3-year-olds to watch from – March 13 – March 20
(* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
*Elghayoor (filly, Ghostzapper – Hazimah by Gone West) – The consistent Kiaran McLaughlin winner closed into a hot pace set by favorite Highestmaintenance and I’m Mom’s Favorite in the Cicada Stakes. Although she stalled a bit in the closing stretch run under jockey Eddie Castro, her final time was a solid 1:09.82 for the six furlongs. She’s yet to race beyond six furlongs or outside of Aqueduct, but she could test new waters.
“Eddie and I were chatting about if she can go further,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to McLaughlin. “(There’s) one way to find out. We’re not even sure where to go next. (Shadwell Farm vice president/general manager) Rick Nichols and Kiaran can decide that.”
Ghostzapper progeny stretching out on dirt is a key angle, one example being recent San Felipe winner Hear the Ghost.
*Will Take Charge (colt, Unbridled’s Song – Take Charge Lady by Dehere) – The “other” D. Wayne Lukas narrowly edged his stablemate Oxbow in a late stretch battle of the Rebel Stakes, putting Jon Court in the winner’s circle. Court adeptly navigated the half-brother of Take Charge Indy through seams that opened along the route and took the outside path while Oxbow maintained on the rail. While Will Take Charge put his neck in front, the two were even after the wire and neither receded on the gallop out.
Lukas said he doesn’t know why Will Take Charge didn’t fire in the Southwest, in which he finished a lackluster sixth over the sloppy surface. He bounced back with this effort, similar to that of his Smarty Jones win, although in that race he faced a wider trip. He could be headed to the Blue Grass but a final decision has not been made. This is a contender who’s grown and matured quite a bit since his 2-year-old season and could be peaking at the right time.
Oxbow continues to display his mettle, showing no fatigue in light of his many travels and three stakes races in two months. Lukas told the Daily Racing Form Oxbow will return for the Arkansas Derby. While his pedigree suggests he should like longer distances, this next challenge will be the true test of his stamina, which is in question.
Den’s Legacy’s run was the most impressive performance of the field given the circumstances. He checked once during his trip, then bumped hard with a weary, weaving Super Ninety Nine in late stretch, which thwarted his momentum. Maybe that was when he suffered the big gash on his hoof? He still managed to finish third despite the trouble. He’s had a tough, long campaign, so fatigue could be a factor, but this is a legitimate talent.
Texas Bling, who always shows up and usually at a big price, covered substantial ground late in the race for fourth. Trainer Danele Durham said he’s bound for the Arkansas Derby.
Super Ninety Nine was keen to go with Title Contender early on swift fractions (:23.36, :47.19) and backed off to stalk, but he tired in the stretch and backed up. Was it a case of being brought back too soon? Hard to buy the argument that he’s distance challenged considering he dominated at this distance previously. The loss was similar to his fourth-place finish in an allowance at Santa Anita on Dec. 28. He’ll get a chance at redemption.
The final time of 1:45.18 is the third-slowest in race history.
Legal Mind (filly, Bellamy Road – Bold Honoree by Double Honor) – This Illinois-bred has won three of her last four, including an eye-catching performance in the Spring Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge Stakes. Her loss in that string of four races was a second to ITM Kentucky Oaks filly to Watch Countess Curlin. Trainer Jack Bruner said she will head to Chicago for her summer campaign.
*Incognito (colt, A.P. Indy – Octave by Unbridled’s Song) – The winning performance we’ve been waiting for from this well-bred Kiaran McLaughlin runner finally surfaced in his fourth start, a mile test on the inner track. The field wasn’t strong, but he rated perfectly and extended his advantage to the wire. Nice time of 1:37.62. He could be a late bloomer.
Free World (colt, Stormy Atlantic – Welcometotheworld by Woodman) – He proved too much for the allowance field, romping in the seven-furlong race and crossing the wire in a splendid 1:25.45. He’s 2 for 2 at Delta. The win by this consistent Tom Amoss trainee boosts Ground Transport, who defeated him at Fair Grounds.
*Alydorable (turf) (filly, Arch- Esprit d’Escalier by Diesis) – First-time grass equaled a win for a descendant of one of our top turf broodmare sires, Diesis. This Mike Maker runner was bumped at the start, carried out by weary pacesetter Liz Pendens and still got up in the 1 1/16-mile test. Grass is her game.
*Skinny (colt, Private Vow – Weight No More by Pure Prize) – This unheralded, gutsy Steve Asmussen runner we’ve been talking about has won three in a row at Fair Grounds. He outdueled favorite Hopeful Notion in his most recent win; the value might be gone as bettors are on to the Louisiana-bred now.
*Dorsett (turf) (colt, Artie Schiller – Dontgetinmyway by Machiavellian) – He gets to the winner’s circle with a return to his preferred surface after a disappointing effort on dirt. Strong effort for this Michael Stidham runner, in which he went five-wide in the stretch and closed well. He posted a solid final time of 1:44.42 and a closing split of 6:02 for the 1 1/16-miles. Outstanding grass pedigree.
Ten Indian (colt, Speightstown – Princess Sequoia by Cherokee Run) – Al Stall’s runner was last turning into the stretch but launched a bold rally for third in his debut going six furlongs. Good gallop out; one to watch next out.
Zaikov (colt, Distorted Humor – Wait a While by Maria’s Mon) – The debut of this well-bred Todd Pletcher prospect was “worth the wait” as he powered home untested to win by 14 1/4-lengths. The gray colt, who resembles his champion turf-loving dam, is likely to start next in an allowance race and remain on dirt for now.
Todd Pletcher: “We loved his mother. She was one of our all-time favorites. He’s trained really well on the dirt, and she was good on all surfaces. He acted like a really talented colt, and we’re glad to get him going.”
Another indicator of his strength: he worked in tandem with the accomplished Shanghai Bobby before his debut.
“He had some typical baby stuff that delayed him coming in a little bit,” Pletcher said. “But since he’s come to us, he’s been very straightforward and he’s trained really well.”
More Hundred Acre (turf) (colt, Pulpit – Exploding Star by Exploit) – Yet another impressive Todd Pletcher prospect. This colt returned off a long layoff from his debut, a solid Saratoga turf test, and showed strong late kick in a 1 1/16-mile upper-level claiming race on turf. He came from far off the pace to catch pacesetter March Reward and galloped out strong. Impressive time of 1:41.01 and final split of 5:94.
Looking Cool (colt, Candy Ride – Coolwind by Forest Wildcat) – Allowance winner collected off a nice pace setup by favorite Red Rocks, who sputtered in the final furlong and was caught by this Carl Nafzger trainee in the 1 1/16-mile test. Overall, his winning times haven’t been outstanding, but he’s improved since stretching out. He was second to Oxbow in a sprint at Churchill Downs.
Nafzger explained a sixth-place finish in the colt’s last start: “He had a horrible trip last time. Truthfully, he got his tongue over the bit, it fell off in the post parade, and he didn’t even run the first turn last trip.”
Black Bear (colt, Midnight Lute – Angel Trumpet by Cape Canaveral) – Chris Hartman’s phone might be ringing after this debut. Front-running, eye-catching win by this dark bay son of Midnight Lute, who extended his lead effortlessly to the wire. The final time of 1:10.97 is very good for this surface and class.
Upright Stuff (colt, Indian Charlie – Di’s Delight by French Deputy) – If you want to see an exhilarating late rally, watch the replay of this Jack Bruner trainee’s second start, his first try on turf at one mile. Superb time of 1:36.98 (track record is 1:36.16). Multi-surface runner who also won his debut on dirt in similar fashion.
*War Academy (colt, Giant’s Causeway – Cabbage Key by A.P. Indy) – Bob Baffert set this allowance race up like a perfect in-company workout. Manando broke off as the target and extended as many as seven lengths in front, with War Academy taking chase from off the pace and catching him before the wire, striding out strongly. Baffert and jockey Mike Smith were quite pleased with the effort, as it was just what you would want to see from a prospect gearing up for a much tougher test. He’s up against it when it comes to Derby points, but this lightly-raced colt is very intriguing and has the qualities of a developing talent.
Interesting to note this race was on Friday, one day before Smith was set to ride Oxbow in the Rebel. Oxbow finished second.
“He might be my (Derby) horse Bob,” Smith said to Baffert. “What I like so much about him is there’s so much room to improve. He was well, well within himself today.”
Baffert: “I’m going to run him in a big prep, he’ll hit one of the big preps. I don’t know where yet, but it’ll be a hundred points whatever it is. We’re going for the bonus round. Mike’s always been real high on this horse.”
*Sweet Sway (filly, Freud – Sweet Tzipora by Wheaton) – Inner track specialist? This New York-bred has won three straight at the Big A for the Rudy Rodriguez barn.
Folsom Fire (colt, Fire Slam – Ocala Belle by Glitterman) – One to watch on this circuit after his nifty debut in state-bred company for trainer Lee Thomas.
Super Divine (filly, Divine Park – Ghazo by Ghazi) – The Larry Jones trainee had the widest trip and was competing against mostly older rivals, yet she still managed to rally from last to win in her debut.
Magical World (filly, Distorted Humor – Pleasant Home by Seeking the Gold) – Regally-bred Phipps Stable prospect took on older rivals in her debut and performed well for second despite running greenly in the stretch. Winner Magical Weekend, a 4-year-old daughter of Any Given Saturday, was impressive with her rail run.
Golden Gate Fields
Imperative (gelding, Bernardini – Call Her by Caller I.D.) – He’s 2 for 2 at Golden Gate and enjoyed the class relief in his most recent win, as he’s faced some of the toughest competition in California.
Freeride (colt, Master Command – A Real Lady by Real Quiet) – A switch to dirt coming out of a decent Gulfstream turf race boosted this Tony Dutrow trainee. The final margin (8 1/4 lengths) was likely boosted by the sloppy track, but still a nice effort by this lightly raced colt.
Zia Zia Zia (filly, Dehere – Zia Philomena by Coronado’s Quest) – Mike Puype’s speedy filly has progressed with each race, culminating in a winning performance against newcomers in a sprint. Her victory flatters the promising Tiz Molly.
*Black Witch (filly, Majestic Warrior – South African Baby by Johannesburg) – She returned to a fast dirt track and got a good trip under Rafael Bejarano from the far outside post, leading to a four-length victory in her fourth start.