12/18/2009 12:01PM

Churchill's best 2-year-olds


My blogging can be as frequent as my “tweets” or posts on my Facebook page. Which is to say, the schedule of my blog posts can be somewhat erratic – or in the case of tweets or Facebook, nonexistent.

Having said that, while getting into the Christmas blogging spirit I recently reviewed some of the best performances at the Churchill Downs meeting by male 2-year-olds on dirt, horses who could possibly surface in Triple Crown preps.

We’ll start with the obvious one:


Owner- WinStar Farm

Trainer- Todd Pletcher

Maria’s Mon-Supercharger by A.P. Indy

Record: 4-2-1-0

Nov 28 CD--- Kentucky Jockey Club---1 1/16--- 1st by 5----pacefigs 85-89-89 final 90

Oct 10 Bel--- Champagne-----------------1 mile---4th by 2----pacefigs 82-83-89 final 87

Sept 11 Bel—Maiden----------------------1 mile----1st by 7----pacefigs 86-89-87 final 87

Super Saver looked good winning the Kentucky Jockey Club with his usual frontrunning style, getting a Beyer Speed Figure of 93. Under little encouragement from Calvin Borel, his natural speed took him to a daylight lead he maintained for six furlongs while going easily. Borel appeared to give him a bit of a second-turn breather, and he willingly allowed Activity Report and Worldly to pull alongside at the 5/16ths. Super Saver was then shaken up straightening for home, and quickly opened up under typically strong encouragement from Borel.

The field Super Saver whipped was decent, considering runnerup William’s Kitten had just returned from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he lost by 4 ¾ lengths while finishing eighth.

This can’t be done routinely simply because of the time involved, but I compared Super Saver’s line with the average pacefig line of the last 10 runnings of the Kentucky Jockey Club. His line you can see above – 85-89-89-90. The 10-year average is 83-89-90-90. Pretty normal, except that decade included winners Dollar Bill, Repent, Soto, The Cliff’s Edge, Greater Good, Anak Nakal and Beethoven, stretch runners an average of more than five lengths back at the first two calls. Only two other winners of the race during that span – Private Vow (2005) and Tiz Wonderful (2006) – were on or near the pace, and Super Saver ran nearly two lengths faster than both at the first call. Private Vow’s paceline was 79-83-90-91 and Tiz Wonderful’s was 79-86-90-93.

Thus Super Saver would appear to be as relevant as those other Kentucky Jockey Club winners, perhaps even slightly more so, although – and this is a big “although” – we don’t know yet whether he’s a one-dimensional frontrunner.

Pedigree-wise, Super Saver is super solid. Maria’s Mon has already sired a Kentucky Derby winner in Monarchos. Supercharger once was a part of the Phipps breeding empire, and was purchased at auction carrying Super Saver in utero. Super Saver is Supercharger’s third foal and first stakes winner, but Supercharger is a full-sister to three graded winners: Godolphin’s brilliant Jerome winner Girolamo; Daydreaming, who competed in six Grade 1 stakes races and placed in two of them; and Accelerator, second in Captain Bodgit’s Wood Memorial and third in Wild Rush’s Metropolitan. Beneath those horses on the pedigree page are the expected assortment of Phipps stakes stars.

Four or five more Churchill Downs 2-year-old are to come. Presumably before the Derby. Just kidding.

Dick Harbin More than 1 year ago
I agree with Dennis that Walking The Beach was the most impressive 2-yr old I saw at CD, but she finished 9th last weekend in an allowance race at FG. He was done by the time they got halfway around the final turn. Has anyone heard anything about the colt since that race? I am presuming that he either bled or got hurt. Please reply if you know anything.
Curt A Vassallo More than 1 year ago
Andy, U R by far the most knowlegeable horse racing writer in the country. But, U probably already know that. Where would we be w/o those Beyer's figs ? But please, tell Jason that nobody put a gun to J. Moss's head, to keep her in Ca. & please let him know that 2009 HOY is 4 the year 2009, & not 4 the year 2008.....Thank U in advance....... BTW: That Ca. female didn't win last year either........
Jason More than 1 year ago
Ok this is the wrong place for this comment but there isn't space to comment on your pick for horse of the year so here goes. I just have a question. Rachel won on synthetic - yet you and others refer to her as a dirt only horse, as if she had absolutely zero chance to win on the synthetic in the BC - how can you repeat this claim when she won on synthetic, and won easily. Zenyatta has won on dirt, she not only won, she beat the reigning older femail champion on dirt by a mile in what some say was her best performance prior to the BC this year. And yet you and others still repeat claims she is a synthetic specialist. To me the Rachel lovers ignore these facts because it hurts their case. It is entirely possible that Zenyatta was a better dirt horse than synthetic horse. Mike Smith has said she hates Del Mar, doesn't get over it at all, but still won there multiple times. That is what great horses do. They win over tracks they don't necessarily love. For me, Jess Jackson robbed his filly of a chance to show the world how great she might or might not have been. But what's funny is everyone knows the answer in ther gut. Zenyatta is the better racehorse. There is zero chance in my mind that Rachel beats that Classic field on dirt or any other surface when she was life and death to beat older males that would have been 100-1 in the classic field. Giving the horse of the year trophy to a horse that isn't the best racehorse in this country is a complete sham. It is what is wrong with racing. Sentiment, too often trumps facts on the ground.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Thank you very much for your Z/RA HOY article with Jay Hovdey. I believe that Z should win the award but I was very impressed that someone finally made a respectable argument for RA that did not involve denigrating the merits of Z. Thank you and well done.
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
While Super Saver will be one of Pletcher's better 3 yos come Jan 1st, this trainer always seems to have more than a handful of potential Triple Crown charges, and might have trouble keeping them out of each other's way when it comes to the favored preps. Where do you see this one going with his running style...Gulfstream?
hoofprintsandhorseplay More than 1 year ago
Has there ever been a better bred horse pointing to the Derby?? It will be interesting to see if a trainer other than Shug get a Phipps bred horse to win the Derby.
Ted Rood More than 1 year ago
On the heels of his runaway "Cash for Claimers" program, Racing Czar and Commissioner Jerome Hirsch today announced yet another unprecedented program destined to spur both acclaim and concern. At a gin laced, Oak Tree press conference on the eve of the "First Annual Hirsch Legacy Breeder's Cup", the flamboyant and relentlessly egotistical Hirsch claimed to "have the perfect tonic for both racing's economy and prospective horse owners". "The recent Keeneland sales were disappointing in both numbers of horses purchased and sales prices. Racing clearly is suffering financial duress from breeding sheds, to sale barns, to the handles at most tracks. We must incite new investments in racing, as IEAH, Jess Jackson, and Godolphin appear unable or unwilling to purchase all new colts and fillies available. As a Nobel Peace Prize winner, I intend to remedy this situation with every tool at my disposal. Our racing education programs in this great nation's high schools have started to bear fruit. Thousands of previously slack jawed, subconscious teenagers have embraced racing. They are attending races, demonstrating ardent interest in our bikini girls, and taking ample advantage of our 50 cent beers on Tuesdays. It is high time for these novices to graduate to the next level of racing: ownership. My prior experience has shown that owning a race horse is occasionally a financially challenging endeavor. For a high school student surviving on an allowance and part time job, it could be even more so. We must ease the cost of horse ownership, both to help our breeders and to encourage the next generation of owners. In addition, with unemployment at 10.2%, it is critical we find meaningful hobbies for racing fans without jobs. Effective immediately, I am announcing a "First Time Horse Buyer" tax credit of 50% of a horse's purchase price, capped at $5000. The funds for this program will come from breeding surcharges and gate tolls previously implemented. In addition, a "Move Up Horse Buyer" credit of 25%, capped at $3000 will be available to any current owner who has owned a horse for at least 3 years and buys another. A special additional credit of $1000 will apply to all Illinois bred purchases sired by ZZ Cat, That's a Nice, or Denouncer. On the eve of this First Annual Hirsch Legacy Breeder's Cup, I want to reassure all owners, both well heeled and not, that This Office cares deeply about their concerns. My only lingering regret is that this visionary program was not in place when I purchased Zzip Away Cat. The $6000 tax credit might have allowed me to break even for the better part of a year!"
dennis More than 1 year ago
Take a look at Walk on the Beach. Impressive Maiden score at Churchill
elliott More than 1 year ago
I love him but I am biased!