2 Year Old Horses To Watch
2 Year Old Horses to Watch
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin tabbed this son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin as one of his best juveniles during last summer's Saratoga meet but had to wait more than three months to be proven correct. A sharp but spotty work tab didn't discourage bettors, who sent Ocean Knight to post as the 2-1 favorite in an eight-horse maiden special weight at Aqueduct on December 13. With Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard, the colt settled well back off the early pace in the 6F contest, swung wide when asked and blew by his rivals to a 4 ¼-length victory while being geared down in the final 70 yards. Ocean Knight covered the distance in 1: 11.94 and earned an outstanding 95 BRIS Speed Rating, the highest of the week for a juvenile male. Bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, LLC, the bay is out of Ocean Goddess, a daughter of Stormy Atlantic, and was foaled on February 2, 2012. Owner Stonestreet Stables LLC, who campaigned his sire, purchased Ocean Knight for $320,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2014 Selected Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training, and the colt earned $36,000 of that back with his winning debut. The colt will train with McLaughlin's string in south Florida while his connections determine whether he'll return at Gulfstream Park or ship out of town for his sophomore debut.
The connections of this Sky Mesa son felt he had enough potential to nominate him to the December 20 G1 Los Alamitos Futurity by the early deadline in mid May, but The Gomper didn't make his career debut until the final month of 2014. The delayed start was worth the wait, as the colt became a rare first-out winner for trainer Ron Ellis, who is known for bringing along youngsters slowly. In a post-race interview, the conditioner was clearly as surprised as bettors to have seen his 17-1 charge rally from near the back of the pack and easily whip seven rivals in a 5 ½F maiden contest at Los Alamitos. With Joe Talamo in the irons, The Gomper hit the wire in 1:02.62 and earned a solid 88 BRIS Speed Rating. Bred in Kentucky by Oxley, Three Chimneys Farm Stallions, et al and Dr. Patricia Ziefle, the bay is out of the Sefapiano mare Tri Delt Girl and was foaled on March 25, 2012. He was offered as a weanling at the Keeneland 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale but failed to meet his reserve. Jeffrey Bloom purchased The Gomper a year later for $60,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale for his Bloom Racing Stable LLC. His maiden score was worth $25,200 and Ellis indicated that he is looking forward to stretching the colt out to distances that will better suit his running style.
The word was out on this son of Line of David when he debuted as the near even-money favorite in a Santa Anita maiden special weight race with a full field in late October. But Firing Line couldn't overcome a slow start in that 6F contest and came up half a length short when second to subsequent G3 Bob Hope S. runner-up Alright Alright. But the Simon Callaghan trainee delivered as the 1-2 favorite in his next attempt, a 6 1/2F contest at Del Mar on November 30. With Hall of Famer Mike Smith once again at the controls, the colt was bumped at the start and soon settled into an inside stalking position in the 12-horse field. Smith guided the colt away from the rail into the stretch, collared pacesetter Anytime Anyplace, took charge past the eighth pole and powered away for a 4 ¼-length victory over that rival. Firing Line covered the distance in 1:16.06 and was awarded an 87 Beyer Speed Figure for his maiden-breaker. Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, the bay is out of Sister Girl Blues, a daughter of Hold for Gold, and was foaled on January 19, 2012. Owned by Arnold Zetcher LLC, Firing Line initially sold for $65,000 at the Keeneland 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale and then the following year for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale. The hammer came down once more in the Keeneland 2014 April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale when Firing Line was purchased for $240,000. The colt has banked $44,800 in his two starts and his connections will have plenty of choices for his next start, which seems likely to be in the Golden State.
Owner and trainer James DiVito must have been tremendously relieved when Dadtaughtmewell wasn't claimed out of his 20 ¼-length romp in a Hawthorne MC 25000 on November 20. After two off-the-board finishes on turf, DiVito switched the son of Eddington to dirt and he delivered a jaw-dropping performance in the 1 mile 70 yards contest. Rated well back early in the six-horse field, Dadtaughtmewell launched a sustained run under jockey Emmanuel Esquivel, overhauled the leaders and poured it on down the stretch to hit the wire in 1:41.99. The colt earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure, 35 points higher than his previous best. Bred in Kentucky Lavin Bloodstock, the chestnut is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Burrito and was foaled on April 4, 2012. DiVito purchased him for just $4,500 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2013 Fall Yearling Sale, and the colt has earned twice that amount now with a bankroll of $9,000. DiVito received inquiries about a potential sale after the runaway victory, but the current plan is for Dadtaughtmewell to be pointed to a first-level allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs.
Jumpin Frac Flash:
Trainer Ken McPeek nearly won the Kentucky Derby in his first attempt when Tejano Run finished a good second behind Thunder Gulch in 1995 but hasn't had a horse hit the board with five starters since that accomplishment. Jumpin Frac Flash looked like the type of runner who could give McPeek a legitimate prospect to run for the roses when he soundly whipped seven rivals in a 1m maiden race on November 13 under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs. The son of Any Given Saturday tracked the pace while wide early, took command with quarter mile to run and drew off for a sharp five-length victory over Hillbilly Style, who was himself five lengths ahead of favored Tiznow R J. With Chris Landeros at the controls, Jumpin Frac Flash stopped the clock in 1:38.25 and was given an 81 Beyer Speed Figure. The colt had two prior starts at Keeneland's fall meet, a drubbing in his 6F career debut and solid fourth-place finish when stretched out to 1 1/16m. Bred in Kentucky by Darley and Robert S. West, Jr. the dark bay is out of Manukai, by Unbridled Jet, and was foaled on February 18, 2012. He first sold for $23,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland 2012 November Breeding Stock Sale then again for $50,000 when McPeek signed the ticket at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale. Jumpin Frac Flash has earned $27,680 for owner Magic City Thoroughbred Partners and is under consideration for Churchill Downs' closing day G2 Kentucky Jockey Club S.
Trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley have enjoyed extraordinary success with juveniles in recent years, particularly those sired by Sky Mesa, Oxley's dual graded stakes-winning youngster in 2002. Sky Hero became the pair's latest son of the stallion to look like a player in the division when he captured a 1 1/16m OC 75000n1x at Churchill Downs on November 8 over entrymate Flashaway. With Sky Hero's regular pilot Shaun Bridgmohan moving to Flashaway, Julien Leparoux took the mount on Sky Hero and guided him into an early stalking position behind the pacesetting Waging War. Taking command midway through the second turn, the colt kicked clear down the stretch to hit the wire a length and a quarter in front of Flashaway. Sky Hero covered the distance in 1:45.91 and earned a 92 BRIS Speed Rating, which topped the 90 he received when breaking his maiden in a 7F contest on October 12 at Keeneland. He had one start prior to that, a close fourth-place effort in a September 6 sprint at Churchill. Bred in Kentucky by his owner John Oxley's wife, Debby, the bay is out of the Danzig mare Vision of Beauty and was foaled on January 17, 2012. Sky Hero has banked $61,250 in his three starts and could add to that with a planned next start in the $200,000 G2 Kentucky Jockey Club S. under the Twin Spires on the closing day of the fall meet.
Kiaran McLaughlin nearly won the Kentucky Derby in 2055 when Closing Argument took command in the stretch only to be passed by the late-running Giacomo, and the conditioner has been trying to get to the elusive winner's circle under the Twin Spires ever since. He may have his best chance in 2015 with Frosted, a son of red-hot sire Tapit and the Deputy Minister mare Fast Cookie. Campaigned by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing LLC, Frosted was highly-regarded in the barn before finishing a distant runner-up to subsequent Kip Deville S. champ Bayerd in a 6F Saratoga maiden race on August 23. The colt improved in his next outing, a 6 ½F Belmont Park contest for non-winners four weeks later, when he again settled for second but was beaten less than a length. His breakthrough effort came when Frosted finally stretched out to a mile and romped by 5 ¼ lengths on October 30 at Aqueduct. With Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard for the first time, the colt hit the wire in 1:36.19 and was given a career-best 94 BRIS Speed Rating. Bred by in Kentucky by Darley, Sheikh Mohammed's global thoroughbred breeding operation, the aptly-named gray/roan was foaled on April 18, 2012. Frosted has banked $70,600 in his three starts, and McLaughlin said he may try to increase that total and earn Derby qualifying points in the prestigious $400,000 G2 Remsen S. on November 29 at Aqueduct.
Skill Not Luck:
Trainer Chad Brown has enjoyed extraordinary success when shipping his charges into Parx and this son of terrific young sire Lookin At Lucky was no exception. After beginning his career with a fourth-place finish in a tough Belmont Park maiden race in September, Skill Not Luck was sent to Philadelphia for a softer spot and confidence booster against non-winners on October 14. With Kendrick Carmouche taking the reins from Joe Bravo, the colt gained control out of the gate against 10 rivals, relinquished the lead to Awesome Alex near the eighth pole and came back again in a game effort to prevail by a neck over that foe, who was nearly 12 lengths ahead of show finisher Extrasexxyeurodude. Skill Not Luck covered the one mile 70 yards in 1:42.44 and earned an 87 BRIS Speed Rating, seven points better than that of his career debut. Bred in Kentucky by Kinsman Farm, the chestnut is out of Chief Secretary, a daughter of Deputy Minister, and was foaled on March 18, 2012. Skill Not Luck was a $320,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2014 Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training and is campaigned by Klaravich Stables, Inc. and William H. Lawrence. His maiden-breaker boosted his earnings to $30,150.
Ready for Rye:
Chalk Racing's $70,000 Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale purchase outran his 13.5/1 odds and his auction price when he finished a good second to $1.6 million Ocala March co-sales topper and subsequent G1 winner Carpe Diem in a Saratoga closing day maiden race. But Ready for Rye was no such bargain for bettors when sent to post at 1.1/2 in a 6F contest full of well-bred non-winners at Belmont Park on October 11. The Tom Albertrani trainee dueled for the early lead with first-time starter Unlock the Glory, quickly disposed of that rival and cruised to a 7-length victory over Shadwell Stable's $850,000 yearling purchase Mawthooq. With Javier Castellano aboard for the return engagement, the City Zip gelding crossed the wire in 1:09.92 and was given a 96 Beyer Speed Figure for his maiden-breaker. Bred in Kentucky by Soc. Agr. Santa Elena De Chimbarongo LTDA, the bay is out of the More Than Ready mare Embroidery and was foaled on April 4, 2012. With a bankroll of $61,600, Ready for Rye has nearly earned back his purchase price after just two starts.
This Bob Baffert trainee needs 18 more victories to equal the total of 19 earned by his unbeaten dam, the fabulous multiple stakes-winning New Mexico-bred Peppers Pride, who retired in 2008 with an unblemished resume. But Punctuate showed his mother's same heart and determination when he rallied from the back of the pack, split rivals and kicked clear for a winning debut over 11 rivals in a Sept. 27 Santa Anita maiden race. Under Rosie Napravnik, the colt hit the wire in the 6 ½F in 1:16.20 and was awarded a 77 Beyer Speed Figure for his very professional effort. A son of Distorted Humor, the bay was bred in Kentucky by Joe Allen and Michael C. Stinson and foaled on Feb. 25, 2012. Owner Arnold Zetcher purchased Punctuate for $300,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale and the colt earned back $33,600 of that with his victory. Baffert was noncommittal as to Punctuate's next start on the day after his victory but did not rule out the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Trainer Tom Albertrani seldom wins with first-time starters, so the performance of First Down in a loaded Belmont Park maiden race on September 20 was particularly noteworthy. Breaking from post nine in a field of 11, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby champ Street Sense raced wide in mid pack early before launching his bid three furlongs out and taking control near the quarter pole. With Chris DeCarlo in the saddle, the colt then edged away and kept entry mate Frosted at bay for a 3/4 - length victory. First Down covered the 6 1/2 F in 1:16.11 and earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure plus $45,000 for his effort. A Darley Stable homebred, the bay is out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Lily and was foaled in Kentucky on February 7, 2012.
While Competitive Edge won Saratoga's closing day G1 Hopeful S. three races earlier, Carpe Diem may have emerged as the day's best classic contender for conditioner Todd Pletcher. The son of Giant's Causeway launched his career three races after his more accomplished stablemate became a stakes winner and ran to his flashy looks and works. Sent to post as the 7/10 favorite, he sped to the lead from his rail post under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and set testing fractions of 21.88 and 44.90 while pressed by Louisiana Brown. When the latter threw in the towel, Carpe Diem fought off a challenge from fellow firster Ready for Rye and pulled away from that rival for a 2 ½-length score. The colt covered the 5 ½F in 1:03.99 and earned an 84 Beyer Speed figure plus $49,800for his victorious debut. Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable, the chestnut is out of Rebridled Dreams, a daughter of Unbridled's Song. He was foaled on February 29, 2012, and is a half-brother to 2010 Breeders' Futurity winner J.B.'s Thunder and to multiple English stakes hero and Group 3-placed Doncaster Rover. Carpe Diem initially sold for $550,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Northwest Stud enjoyed a profitable pinhook when Stonestreet Stables LLC signed the $1,600,000 ticket, the co-highest, at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. Stonestreet campaigns the colt in partnership with WinStar Farm.
Trainer Todd Pletcher unveiled yet another talented youngster when Blofeld delivered as the heavy favorite against four foes in an Aug. 14 Saratoga maiden race. The son of Quality Road chased pacesetter Signature Cat before taking control in the stretch and edging away for a 1-length victory over that rival in the 5F event. With John Velazquez in the irons, the colt crossed the wire in 57.83 and earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure and $49,800 for his winning debut. The fourth winner for his young sire, the gray/roan was bred in Kentucky by Keats Grove Farm. He is out of stakes winner Storm Minstrel, a daughter of Storm Cat, and was foaled January 23, 2012. Blofeld was purchased for $135,000 as a weanling, for $275,000 as a yearling, and for $225,000 in March at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2014 Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. Owned by Glencrest Farm LLC and JSM Equine, the colt is named for a supervillian from the James Bond series. Pletcher said his charge will likely return at Belmont Park in the G1 Champagne S. on Oct. 4 or the G2 Futurity one day later.
With such a wealth of talented two-year-olds, trainer Todd Pletcher has made good use of Monmouth Park to keep his youngsters separated. And that was the case when this son of Giant's Causeway stretched out and got his picture taken in only his second career attempt on Aug. 10 at the Jersey shore. Wild Zambezi, whose only prior race was a fourth-place finish at 5 ½F over this course on July 18, stalked the pacesetter out of the gate, made his bid on the far turn and quickly took charge on his way to a ¾-length victory. With Eddie Castro aboard for the first time, the colt covered the 1m distance in 1:37.86 and earned an 88 BRIS Speed Figure, 17 points higher than the number in his debut. The dark bay was bred in Kentucky by International Equities Holding, Inc. and is out of Wild Spirit (CHI), a daughter of Hussonet. Wild Zambezi was foaled on April 30, 2012, and is a half-brother to stakes-winning filly Diva Spirit. The victory upped his earnings to $22,520 for owner Sumaya U.S. Stable, and the colt should continue to improve with added ground.
Trainer Dale Romans has been known to debut some talented youngsters at tracks like Ellis Park and Indiana Downs and appears to have done just that with Danny Boy, who used a huge late kick to blow by his rivals in route to a three-length victory over the Ellis turf on Aug. 1. Under Miguel Mena, the son of Harlan's Holiday crossed the wire in the 1m contest in 1:36.13 and was given an 82 Equibase Speed Figure. Bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm LLC and Colts Neck Stables LLC, the gray/roan is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Unbridled Beauty. He was foaled on February 19, 2012, and is a half-brother to multiple stakes hero Meal Penalty. Donegal Racing's Jerry Crawford purchased the colt for $260,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale. Danny Boy's victorious debut was worth $17,100 to the Donegal partnership, and Crawford said his next start will come in either the grassy G2 With Anticipation S. at Saratoga on Aug. 28 or the G3 Iroquois S. at Churchill Downs on Sept. 6.
Churchill Downs-based trainer Lynn Whiting doesn't ship many runners to Parx, so the ones who turn up in the entries there merit strong consideration for bettors. And Hebbronville didn't disappoint went sent to post as the heavy odds-on favorite against six fellow first-time starters in a July 21 maiden special weight contest. The son of Majesticperfection was quickly in command in the 4 ½F dash and cruised to a 5 ½-length score while geared down in the stretch. With Frankie Pennington in the irons, Hebbronville hit the wire in a near-track record time of 51.19, which was good for a 92 BRIS Speed Rating. Padua Stables, LLC bred the bay in Kentucky out of More d'Amour, a daughter of Tour d'Or. He was foaled on February 23, 2012, and is a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Master of Disaster and A Day for Dancing. Hebbronville initially sold for $135,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale before Choctaw Racing Stable, which owns the colt in partnership with Winning Horse Stable and Scott Galloway, signed a $250,000 ticket for him at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2014 Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The colt earned $26,400 for his winning debut and Whiting has a multitude of options for his next start whether he wishes to ship again or await Churchill Downs' September meet.
John Sadler's trainee served notice that he'll be one to watch in the division when he began his career with a victory against a well-bred group of maidens at Del Mar on July 19. A son of the terrific young sire Street Boss, Bench Warrant saved ground early in the 5F contest before rallying up the rail for a 1 ¼-length victory against eight rivals. Under jockey Tyler Baze, the colt hit the wire in 57.97 and was given a 73 Beyer Speed Figure. Bred in Kentukcy by Lee Searing and Susan Searing, the chestnut is out of Ola Docura, a daughter of Meadowlake, and was foaled on April 24, 2012. BenchWarrant sold for $110,000 at the Barretts Equine Limited 2014 March Sale of Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training. The Doubledown Stables, Inc. color-bearer earned $45,000 for his initial outing and will try to add to that when he makes his stakes debut next on Sept. 3 in the $300,000 G1 Del Mar Futurity.
After coming up a just a head short in a troubled debut, this Florida-bred gelding stamped himself as one to watch when he blasted out of the Gulfstream Park gate on July 13 and sped away from nine rivals in route to a new 4 ½F track record of 51.09 seconds. With Luca Panici aboard again, Niconellie powered to a 9 ¾-length romp and was awarded a 93 Beyer Speed Figure, which is second only to Tizcano's 94 for any juvenile so far in 2014. A homebred for Gilbert G. Campbell, the bay is by West Acre out of the Deputy Minister mare Barnie Fife and was foaled on April 17, 2012. The Kathleen O'Connell trainee is a half-brother to stakes winner American Classic and has banked $40,820 in his two starts. Niconellie is Florida Sire Stakes eligible and a logical candidate for the $100,000 Dr. Fager S., the first leg of the open division scheduled for Aug. 9 at Gulfstream.
I Spent It:
This Anthony Dutrow trainee became the first winner for freshman sire Super Saver, the 2010 Kentucky Derby champion, when he captured a 5F maiden special weight contest at Belmont Park on July 2 in his initial outing. With Javier Castellano in the saddle, I Spent It overcame early trouble before swinging wide and rallying down the lane to defeat six rivals, all of them fellow first-time starters. The colt hit the wire in 58.11 and earned an 86 Equibase Speed Figure along with $45,000 for his winning debut. Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Farms LLC, the bay is out of the Sky Mesa mare Rateeba and was foaled on March 10, 2012. I Spent It originally sold for $65,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2013 Fall Yearling Sale before owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong paid $600,000 for him at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2014 Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
With so many talented 2-year-olds to keep separated, conditioner Todd Pletcher has made a habit of shipping some from his New York base to get their careers started at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Such was the case with 3-5 favorite Stanford, who delivered for bettors with a winning debut in a June 29 maiden special weight. The son of Malibu Moon overcame a slow start and was hustled into position by jockey Joe Bravo to stalk the early pace in the 5F event. Stanford advanced on the turn to challenge for the lead, took command and kicked clear under a hand ride for a 1 ½-length victory over nine rivals. The colt stopped the clock in 59.53 and was given an 82 Equibase Speed Figure. Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, LLC, the bay is out of Rosy Humor, a daughter of Distorted Humor, and was foaled on March 28, 2012. The partnership of Stonestreet Stables LLC, M. Magnier, M. Tabor and D. Smith purchased Stanford for $550,000 at the Barretts Equine Limited 2014 March Sale of Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training. He earned $22,800 of that back in his initial outing.
Despite being a son of 7% first-time starter sire Tiznow and from the barn of Michael Yates, who wins at only a 9% clip with debut runners, Tizcano took plenty of support at the windows in a June 22 Gulfstream Park 4 1/2F maiden contest and delivered a dazzling performance to whip six rivals by 6 1/2 lengths. With Juan Leyva at the controls, the colt crossed the wire in a near track record-setting time of 51.52 and was awarded a 94 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest of any 2-year-old so far this year. The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Cooper Thoroughbred Management LLC out of the Gone West mare Westerly Breeze and was foaled on February 25, 2012. Tizcano was purchased for just $20,000 at the Keeneland 2013 September Yearling Sale and has earned $21,600 for owner Oscar Diaz. It will be interesting to see if Yates takes his flashy debut winner to Saratoga as he did last summer after Lunarwarfare broke his maiden first out at Gulfstream by an identical margin.
This son of outstanding regional sire Harbor the Gold dusted six overmatched foes when setting a new track record in his career debut at Emerald Downs on June 1. Breaking from post position #5 under Leslie Mawing, Trackattacker was in front by the first call and cruised to a nine length victory, covering the 4 ½F in 49.98 and earning a 91 BRIS Speed Rating. The dark bay gelding was bred in Washington by Dr. and Mrs. Duane Hopp out of the In Excess mare Eclatante and was foaled on January 28, 2012. Roy B. Schaefer purchased Trackattacker for $25,000 at the 2013 Washington Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association Summer Yearling Sale. The R.E.V. Racing color-bearer is conditioned by Frank Lucarelli and banked $9,818 in his victorious first start.
Judging by the 1-9 odds and huge crowd in the winner's circle after his debut, plenty of folks already had an eye out for this Repole Stable homebred. And Nonna's Boy didn't disappoint, immediately assuming the lead out of the gate and wiring the field in a June 13 maiden race at Belmont Park. With John Velazquez in the irons, the Todd Pletcher trainee covered the 5F in 58.18 and earned a 73 Beyer Speed Figure for his 5 ½-length romp against five overmatched foes. A son of Distorted Humor and Nonna Mia, a daughter of Empire Maker, the bay was bred in Kentucky and foaled on February 15, 2012. Nonna's Boy, who was nominated to Belmont's Tremont S. before his debut, banked $45,000 in his initial outing and will surely be pointed to stakes company soon.