04/08/2014 3:36PM

Keeneland Baby

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News flash. A Wesley Ward-trained baby didn’t win the initial juvenile race of the Keeneland spring meet.

It wasn't for lack of trying.

Ward, the noted 2-year-old guru, sent out the 8-5 chalk filly Climb in Back (by Ready's Image) and 7-2 third-choice Time Out of Mind (a colt by Montbrook) in last Saturday's 2-year-old heat. Considering Ward's gaudy Formulator statistics (12-28, 43%, slightly positive ROI) over the past four years with 2-year-old debut runners at 4 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland polytrack, many handicappers felt that the race was a foregone conclusion.

Shockingly, both Ward runners finished off the board behind Skyway, a John Oxley-owned, Mark Casse-trained son of Sky Mesa. Casse, based at Woodbine for most of the year, teamed up with Oxley to win a baby race during the 2013 Keeneland spring meet. That filly, Sky America, also by Sky Mesa, is now stakes-placed.

Although not favored, Skyway was no secret as the 5-2 second favorite on the tote. On the "Clocker's Comments" section of the Keeneland website, it was noted that Skyway gave a "sharp gate effort, a length better than Sky Racer, out in :59/3" for his published bullet workout on March 25. Sky Racer, a $160,000 yearling purchase by Sky Mesa, is possible for a maiden race later in the meet for these connections.

Skyway broke from the inside post in the field of seven under jockey Stewart Elliott. Soon, he was chasing Time Out of Mind, who sprinted clear through an opening quarter in 21.92. Elliott had the whip out early on Skyway, but the chestnut collared Time Out of Mind without much fuss in upper stretch. Not surprisingly, the inexperienced Skyway raced greenly. It took him until the sixteenth pole to make his final lead change and he was drifting in during the last furlong, but he pulled clear to win by 6 3/4 lengths in 51.62. It wasn't the most impressive debut in the world, but it was plenty useful enough.

Skyway was foaled in New York on March 25, 2012 and sold for $165,000 last October at Fasig-Tipton. He is a half-brother to three-time stakes-winner Ava K., a Dixie Union filly that was precocious enough to win her first three races by a combined 15 3/4 lengths, and had enough stamina to secure the $60,000 Proud Puppy Stakes at 1 Mile 70 Yards.

Their dam, Bedside Manner, was an excellent Empire-bred filly by Dr. Blum, winning seven of 12 starts for earnings of $262,223. She captured her first five races by a combined 30 3/4 lengths and received a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure for a four-length triumph in the $83,000 Schenectady Handicap at six furlongs. Bedside Manner prevailed at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and was perfect from three races around two turns.

Sky Mesa, a son of Pulpit, was a fantastic 2-year-old for Oxley and trainer John Ward Jr. He won his debut by 7 3/4 lengths travelling six furlongs at Saratoga, and then came right back four weeks later to take the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at seven panels with a 103 Beyer. Sky Mesa concluded his juvenile campaign with a two-turn triumph in the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity on dirt at Keeneland.

Unfortunately, Sky Mesa was injured after the race and missed the spring classics. He failed to win from three starts upon his return, but gave decent performances when third in the Grade 2 Dwyer (104 Beyer) and second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational (106 Beyer).

At stud, Sky Mesa is the sire of two Grade 1 winners. General Quarters earned the Blue Grass Stakes over polytrack and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on grass, while Sky Diva nabbed the Frizette Stakes on dirt.

As for Skyway, he has tons of growing up still to do. Casse has lots of options in the near future as he could keep the colt on polytrack by trying him in the $125,000 Victoria Stakes at five furlongs on June 21. Six days prior is the $100,000 Tremont Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt at Belmont while the six-furlong, Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes will be run at Churchill Downs on June 28.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Skyway is not the 2015 Kentucky Derby winner, but he may prove to be a capablel sort at middle-distances on both dirt and synthetic.


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Dan,
Could you please let us know what the Beyer speed figures were for the whole Wood field?
Thanks!
TBTA

Here are the Wood Memorial Beyers and how they stacked up to each horse's prior race:

Wicked Strong - 104 (87)
Samraat - 98 (96)
Social Inclusion - 98 (111)
Schivarelli - 96 (86)
Uncle Sigh - 91 (96)
Noble Moon - 90 (85)
Kristo - 77 (84)
Effinex - 76 (80)
Harpoon - 74 (86)
Los Borrachos - 47 (77)

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*Just want to thank everyone for sticking with me as I begin to blog more often. The links to the previous blogs (and blog comments) are listed below.

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http://www.drf.com/blogs/derby-prep-thoughts

http://www.drf.com/blogs/fishing-opinions

http://www.drf.com/blogs/keeneland-its-spring-again

http://www.drf.com/blogs/sprinter-rise

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


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Congrats to Biggar W for finishing first in last week's Wood Memorial HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

On tab 2 you will see each HG Race we've held and they are color coded to denote if the race was run on Turf, Dirt or Poly.

REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.

ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE NEXT RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN WEDNESDAY MORNING (A FRIDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL).

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