ITM analysis of the top 3-year-olds to watch from Feb. 6 – 12 (* denotes a previous ITM Horse to Watch)
*Macha (filly, Majestic Warrior – Giant Leap by Giants Causeway) – Tabbed as an ITM Horse to Watch after her winning debut at Golden Gate, she was a rallying fourth behind winner Redressthebalance in the California Oaks. This was a solid, educational run for this Jerry Hollendorfer trainee going 1 1/16-miles. Last from the gate, she navigated through traffic and showed good acceleration, but is still somewhat green. It would be interesting to see her transfer her running style to dirt.
*Dynamic Strike (colt, Smart Strike – Dynamic Deputy by Deputy Minister) – The Pennsylvania-bred chalked up his third straight win for the Richard Small in the one-mile Miracle Wood Stakes. The race was marred by the breakdown of the talented Alpha Mike Foxtrot, who was named Maryland-bred 2-year-old of 2012.
Sister Ginger (filly, Student Council – Letters in Silver by Silver Hawk) – Steve Asmussen has quite a few uner-the-radar fillies in his barn, and this one pulled off a 19-1 surprise over the heralded Rose to Gold in the Martha Washington Stakes at one mile. Sharp win as she rebuffed Rose to Gold’s rally and accelerated again, winning by more than two lengths. Her form didn’t offer much going into the race, but it looks like she’s coming into her own. The pedigree is loaded with Roberto influence and is a notable 0.87 dosage.
“It was the perfect trip,” saod jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. “She made the lead fairly easily. When I moved her, I had a lot of horse in my hand. She moved nice. When I was beside the number 9 (Rose to Gold), I bumped with her a little bit and my filly got a little scared, but when I pushed her in the stretch, she went on and won the race.”
Flower Lady (filly, Flower Alley – Weepnomoremylady by Summer Squall) – Striking debut performance by this talented Louisiana-bred for trainer Ricky Courville going six and a half furlongs over the sloppy track. Bold, impressive move to pass horses in the stretch; so full of run she was green, but kept to task well by jockey Carlos Lozada. This filly proved too much for the field of mostly experienced foes. TrueNicks A++ pedigree rating; dam was a closer who liked routes on turf. Keep an eye on this one.
Perfect Title (colt, Perfect Soul (IRE) – Title Seeker by Monarchos) – Eye-catching, last-to-first rally by this Dallas Stewart runner who looks to be improving with every race. The bold move took a bit out of him as he appeared a bit tired on the gallop-out. His win in the 1 1/16-mile run flatters Proud Strike, who dusted him by more than seven lengths. This colt boasts a lot of upside, however, with a solid pedigree that features Personal Ensign as the grand-dam and Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos as the broodmare sire. He’s a half-brother of Seeking the Title.
Lifes Reward (colt, Tapit – Pearly Beach by Tiznow) – Runner-up to Perfect Title made a strong showing for trainer Wayne Catalano in his third start – his first try on dirt, often a key angle for Tapit progeny. Energetic on the gallop out.
Dance Again (filly, Awesome Again – Dance With Doves by A.P. Indy) – Was it a blessing in disguise that this race was taken off the turf? Given her first chance on dirt, this Malcolm Pierce trainee made a bold move from off the pace to snatch the lead in the stretch and powered home in a 1 1 1/16-mile maiden test. Solid time of 1:46.06; final split of 6:44. Super stamina pedigree.
*Flashy Gray (filly, Flashy Bull – Pleasure Cat by Cat’s Career) – West Point tabbed her for $775,000 after her impressive romp in a maiden race at Churchill Downs, and she returned to begin her 3-year-old campaign with an exclamation point. The Bill Mott runner won with ease in a seven-furlong test against five foes on Feb. 10. Talented and versatile, she stalked perfectly and came home in a cool 1:22.64. She doesn’t have a strong pedigree for long distances, and her dosage is a whopping 8.33, but she could be a new rival for the potent sprinter Kauai Katie.
*Park City (colt, Harlan’s Holiday – Light Show by Plesant Colony) – Sneaky rail run by Shanghai Bobby’s stablemate earned him a maiden-breaking victory going six and a half furlongs. He came from off the pace and cut into swift fractions, posting a final time of 1:17.53. Todd Pletcher’s runner didn’t appear rusty after the long layoff from the Saratoga debut win. He has stamina influence on the dam side and appears more suited to handle extended distances than the accomplished Shanghai Bobby, but he doesn’t have the experience and would need to immerse himself against top company to make a run on the Triple Crown trail. Solid runner-up run on the outside by Nick Zito’s Declan’s Warrior (Majestic Warrior – Comanche Star by Saint Ballado), who was also returning off a layoff.
*Fire Guard (turf) [(colt, First Defence – Quickfire (GB) by Dubai Millenium (GB)] – Quality win over a green Jack Milton for this Bill Mott runner, who bounced back quickly from his disappointing fifth-place finish in the Kitten’s Joy to win this 1 1/16-mile grass test. Jack Milton, a son of War Front for Todd Pletcher, is still learning and should improve with experience.
Bellarmine (turf) (colt, Magna Graduate – Aly Capri by Alydar) – Very eventful trip for this Kenny McPeek runner in his debut going 1 1/16-miles on grass, and despite having to check sharply and wheel out in traffic, he was striding well for second. He’s half to Aly’s Alley, a multi-surface talent who was second at 76-1 in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Saint X (colt, Tiznow – Flaming Touch by Touch Gold) – He’s been holding his own against some classy company, including Oxbow and Looking Cool. In his most recent start, he was hampered by a bad break and was next-to-last heading into the stretch. Jose Lezcano moved him off the rail and he went five-wide, rallying late for third in the seven-furlong test won by Go Canes Go. As a son of Tiznow, this Dale Romans runner could be a late developer who is seeking added distance.
Saint Vigeur (colt, Smart Strike – Sweet Way by Giant’s Causeway) – Chad Brown’s runner, making his second start on dirt, led wire to wire in the 1 1/16-mile maiden race and posted a solid time of 1:44.26 (final split of 6.73). He was slightly green in the stretch but galloped out well. He didn’t face much here, so class ceiling remains a question, but he appears to prefer dirt to turf and has the pedigree to handle extended distances.
Love Train (filly, Tapit – Touch Love by Not for Love) – Powerful, speedy debut by this Steve Klesaris runner, who dominated by more than four lengths in 1:10.36 for six furlongs. Interesting middle-distance pedigree.
Legal Mind (filly, Bellamy Road – Bold Honoree by Double Honor) – This Illinois-bred raised her record to two of four after a strong win from off the pace going seven furlongs. This win is notable as it flatters Countess Curlin, an ITM Kentucky Oaks Watch Horse for Steve Asmussen.
Espresso Candy (turf) [(Candy Ride (ARG) – Espresso Song by Siphon (BRZ)] – First-time turf rejuventaed this George Bryant runner, who was much the best in a turf sprint on Feb. 11. With that pedigree, she’s one to watch if she continues on grass.
Ocean’s of Money (turf) (filly, Indian Ocean – Peggy’s Lady by Diplomatic Jet) – John Sadler’s Florida-bred runner swiftly dispatched the field in her maiden victory, a sprint on the downhill turf in her third start.
Procurement (turf) (colt, Milwaukee Brew – Free to Soar by Unbridled) – This Florida-bred has taken to the downhill turf with two straight wins for Tom Proctor. Classy-looking colt with potential on grass; he’s competed against familiar company including Mylute, Goldencents and Title Contender.
*Carolinaonmymind (filly, Master Command – Touche de Velours by Meadowlake) – This Kathleen O’Connell filly is clearly better on dirt, as her solid fourth in the Gasparilla showed. The Florida-bred followed up with a swift allowance win at six and a half furlongs (1:17.68).
Al’s Rosie (filly, Harlan’s Holiday – Cuscowilla by Notebook) – When Mike Repole sends in the claim, add to the virtual stable. She moves from Gary Contessa to Bruce Levine after a win at a mile in her third start.
Lily’s Lion (colt, Lion Hearted – Lilycakes by Allen’s Prospect) – Toss his debut on slop and you have a speedy sprinter who romped on the lead; he could make some noise on this circuit.
Skip the Pinot (gelding, G. W’s Skippie – Pinot Pals by Pulling Punches) – This Louisiana-bred flashed speed in his debut – a race originally scheduled for turf – but was caught in the stretch. No one was near him at the finish of his second start, as he strolled home to win by more than seven lengths in a one mile, 70-yard test. Sharp prospect among state-bred company for trainer and part-owner/breeder Andrew Leggio.
Matagot (turf) (colt, Kitten’s Joy – Reachfortheheavens by Pulpit) – He posted a solid fourth at the claiming level off a long layoff for Todd Pletcher and looks to improve with experience. Also to watch from this race is third-place Make A Decision [(Medaglia’ d’Oro – Bubbling Heights (FR) by Darshaan (GB)].
Lonely Lion (gelding, Lion Heart – Privately by Private Terms) – The Pennsylvania-bred returned from a long layoff to post a win from off the pace going six furlongs on Feb. 10. The Bernard Houghton trainee was second to Southern Honor in his debut in July, a race in which Southern Honor set a new track record for four and a half furlongs (:50.75).
Leonardtown (gelding, Student Council – Tessitura by Unbridled’s Song) – A winner who flatters Ground Transport at Fair Grounds, this Steve Asmussen trainee found the move to Sam Houston to his liking, drawing off to win by five lengths. Efficient running style.
Malibu Honey (filly, Malibu Moon – One Funny Honey by Distorted Humor) – Debuting at the claiming ranks for Bob Baffert, she reeled in Circular Logic and held off her rivals in the stretch for a win at six and a half furlongs. Not a fast time (1:18.20) but early fractions were swift. She moves to the John Sadler barn.
Majestic Jewel (filly, Cindago – Jewel of the Night by Giant’s Causeway) – Multi-surface talent boasts two straight wins at Santa Anita, most recently a front-running sprint on dirt.
Hardliner (colt, Rock Hard Ten – Esther’s Big Band by Dixieland Band) – Second start showed improvement for the Henry Dominguez trainee, who came from off the pace to catch front-running Clone in the stretch. He’s still learning and was a bit green in the stretch, but was tenacious in his drive to catch the target in the six-furlong test.