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Breeders' Cup Babies: Juvenile Turf
DRF.com handicapping editor Dan Illman, author of "Betting Maidens and 2-Year-Olds," takes an in-depth approach to juvenile racing every year at Saratoga and Keeneland in his DRF Plus columns, Spa Babies and Keeneland Babies.
Welcome to Breeders' Cup Babies. I'll give out the skinny on the 2-year-olds scheduled to compete in the World Championships.
AIR SUPPORT (Smart Strike - Gaze, by Danzig)
Trainer: Claude McGaughey III
Foaled May 12, 2008 in Kentucky...Half-brother to stakes-placed PERUSAL (7-2-0-3, $73,480, unraced at two, 2-4 on turf) and stakes-placed turf performer IMAGING (3-0-1-1, $20,150, 0-3 at two, 0-3 on turf)...Sire was a Grade 1 route winner, 8-6-1-0, $337,376, unraced on turf)...Dam was unraced...Dam a half-sister to multiple stakes-winning sprinter MILITARY LOOK (72-9-10-13, $337,292, 0-1 on turf), Grade 3 winner WARNING GLANCE (45-14-4-5, $648,088, 13-39 on turf), multiple Grade 1 route winner CORONADO'S QUEST (17-10-2-0, $2,046,190,unraced on turf), and stakes-placed turf performer LOOK TO THE KING (7-2-0-1, $41,220, 2-7 on turf)...Smart Strike - Danzig 'nick' has produced stakes-winning sprinter SMART BID (10-3-2-3, $203,408, 1-2 on turf), Grade 1 turf winner SOARING FREE (27-15-4-0, $2,110,371, 11-18 on turf), and Grade 3 route winner HIGH STRIKE ZONE (67-16-14-11, $706,440, 0-1 on turf)...Shows improving Beyer Speed Figures with each start...Good tactical speed may allow him to work out a nice midpack trip, but he must show continued improvement in this, the toughest race of his career.
BANNED (Kitten's Joy - Cardinalli, by Capote)
Trainer: Thomas Proctor
Foaled May 4, 2008 in Kentucky...Sold for $130,000 as a yearling (Keeneland, September 2009)...Sire was a multiple Grade 1 winner on turf (14-9-4-0, $2,075,791, 9-12 on turf)...Dam was a sprint winner (13-2-2-2, $51,370, unraced on turf)...Dam a three-quarter sister to stakes-placed STROLLIN SLEW (21-2-7-5, $129,608, unraced on turf)...Overcame a wide trip and a slow pace to graduate over yielding going at Belmont Park...Showed a sharp burst of late speed when winning allowance prep at Keeneland...It looks like this son of turf champion Kitten's Joy has a good amount of ability, but his class will be tested as he makes the jump into graded company.
DECIPHERING DREAMS (Freud - Plinking, by Talkin Man)
Trainer: Richard Dutrow Jr.
Foaled April 9, 2008 in New York...Full brother to Grade 3-placed turf performer JUNG MAN SCOTT (4-1-1-1, $62,600, 1-2 on turf)...Sire was Group 2-placed on turf in Ireland (12-1-2-1, $44,016, 1-12 on turf)...Dam was a winner (25-4-3-1, $50,005, 2-9 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to Grade 3 route winner WISHFUL TOMCAT (21-10-4-2, $530,784, 2-3 on turf), and multiple stakes-winner UNCLE T SEVEN (19-5-3-5, $392,407, 2-8 on turf)...New York-bred has low speed figures, but the upside is there, and he ran a good race against open company in the Grade 3 Pilgrim over yielding ground...Late-runner will need pace and race luck in his corner.
HUMBLE AND HUNGRY (Limehouse - Cukee, by Langfuhr)
Trainer: Ignacio Correas IV
Foaled May 14, 2008 in Kentucky...Sold for $7,000 as a yearling (Fasig-Tipton, October 2009)...Sold for $200,000 as a juvenile (OBS Spring, April 2010)...Worked 2 furlongs in 20.4 prior to the April auction...Sire was a multiple Grade 2 winner (21-7-2-3, $1,110,433, 0-2 on turf)...Dam was unraced...Dam a half-sister to stakes-placed IN LIKE FLYNN (70-16-6-13, $180,319, 14-48 on turf), and stakes-winner LUCY'S LUCK (11-2-3-3, $82,608, 0-1 on turf)... Has cracked the trifecta in all three starts...Removal of blinkers and surface switch to grass contributed to his maiden victory at Belmont Park...May have to rate and finish with several other speed runners in the race, and will take a big step up in class.
MADMAN DIARIES (Bring the Heat - Harper N Abbey, by Outflanker)
Trainer: Wesley Ward
Foaled April 2, 2008 in Florida...Sire was a stakes-placed sprinter (7-3-1-1, $121,260, unraced on turf)...Dam was unraced...Second dam is multiple Grade 3 winner MEAFARA (17-10-3-2, $838,895, unraced on turf)...Won maiden in gate-to-wire fashion by open lengths over closer-friendly polytrack...Looked good winning the Victoria Stakes at five furlongs by 9 1/4 lengths, prompting the pace along the rail before drawing away as much the best...Seemed a bit green when the beaten favorite in the Colin at six furlongs on polytrack on July 17, but rebounded to win his dirt debut in the six-furlong, Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth...Shook loose in the early portion of that race, but was running on the deeper inside footing...Extremely game in the final quarter-mile in fending off several challengers...Could be the speed of the race, but the additional distance is a major question mark...Has never raced on grass.
MANTOBA (Noverre - Coming Home, by Vettori)
Trainer: Brian Meehan
Foaled February 16, 2008 in Great Britain...Sold for $86,885 as a yearling (Tattersalls, October 2009)...Sire was a Group 1 winner on turf in England (21-5-7-4, $1,429,344, 6-17 on turf)...Dam was a winner on turf (8-2-1-0, $13,946, 2-8 on turf)...Second dam is stakes-winner BONNE ETOILE (6-3-1-0, $33,443, 3-6 on turf)...Has yet to test his mettle against group competition overseas, but earned triple-digit Racing Post Rating when winning at this distance last time out...Seems to have tactical speed, a valuable commodity in a field of inexperienced runners.
MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo - Silk And Scarlet, by Sadler's Wells)
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Foaled March 4, 2008 in Kentucky...Half-brother to turf stakes-winner EISHIN APOLLON (11-2-4-0, $1,521,692, 2-11 on turf)...Sire was a multiple Group 1 winner on turf in Europe (13-5-4-2, $733,139, 5-13 on turf)...Dam is a Group 2 winner on turf in Ireland (9-2-1-0, $199,599, 2-9 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to Group 3 turf winner DANGER OVER (28-5-5-5, $220,739, 5-27 on turf)...Earned big Racing Post Rating when third in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy last time out...Earned big maiden win two stars back and it looks like he has enough pedigree to see out this mile journey...Seems like a dangerous European import.
PLUCK (More Than Ready - Secret Heart, by Fort Wood)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Foaled March 4, 2008 in Kentucky...Sire was a Grade 1 sprint winner (17-7-4-1, $1,026,228, unraced on turf)...Dam was a stakes-winner on turf in South Africa (23-5-5-5, $58,025, 5-23 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to Group 3-placed LONDON NIECE and multiple Group 1 winner PROMISEFROMMYHEART (6-5-0-1, $59,647, turf winner)...Looked good winning maiden going six furlongs on turf at Belmont Park...Drifted in badly to impede foes during the stretch drive of the Continental Mile two back, perhaps showing fatigue in the late stages...Won the Grade 3 Summer Stakes around one turn at Woodbine last time out, but that race was over a second slower than the Natalma for juvenile fillies at one-mile that afternoon...Would benefit from a quick pace up front.
ROUGH SAILING (Mizzen Mast - Moussica, by Woodman)
Trainer: Michael Stidham
Foaled March 4, 2008 in Kentucky...Sold for $12.000 as a yearling (Fasig-Tipton Summer, July 2009)...Sold for $40,000 as a juvenile (Fasig-Tipton Spring, May 2010)...Worked 3 furlongs in 35.2 prior to the May auction...Sire a Grade 1 sprint winner (11-5-2-0, $554,146, 3-9 on turf)...Dam was a winner (11-2-0-1, $52,862, 1-9 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to multiple stakes-winner WILD ZONE (27-9-8-2, $509,973, 4-15 on turf), multiple stakes-winner STRIKE ZONE (55-13-6-5, $333,750, 9-42 on turf), and stakes-placed sprinter SNOW EAGLE (37-8-4-6, $133,340, 0-1 on turf)...Although he didn't earn a big Beyer when winning first-out on turf, he was very impressive from a visual standpoint...Failed to capitalize on closer-friendly track when finishing behind Major Gain in the Arlington-Washington Futurity...Had a bit of trouble when sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on polytrack...Think he will appreciate switching back to grass.
SOLDAT (War Front - Le Relais, by Coronado's Quest
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Foaled April 19, 2008 in Kentucky...Sold for $180,000 as a yearling (Keeneland, September 2009)...Sire was a Grade 2 sprint winner (13-4-5-1, $424,205, unraced on turf)...Dam was unraced...Dam a half-sister to stakes-placed sprinter SILVERY BAY (9-1-3-1, $46,935, unraced on turf), and Grade 3 winner MULRAINY (21-4-3-5, $516,093, 0-2 on turf)...Won maiden with good figure in the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga on September 3...Rallied for second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim over yielding going, but seemed a bit green when lugging in during the stretch drive...Perhaps he didn't care for the yielding ground at Belmont Park that day...Turnback in distance coupled with firm ground may spur improvement.
TYPHOON SLEW (Stormy Atlantic - Hepatica, by Slewpy)
Trainer: Michael Maker
Foaled April 11, 2008 in Kentucky...Half-brother to multiple stakes-winner SLEW'S TIZNOW (14-4-2-1, $321,100), and Grade 2 route winner SLEW'S TIZZY (20-5-1-2, $619,619, 0-1 on turf)...Dam was a sprint winner (3-1-0-0, $25,630, unraced on turf)...Dam a half-sister to Grade 3 winner BEST DRESS (22-4-5-4, $224,875, 1-10 on turf), multiple stakes-placed DRESSER (43-5-7-4, $217,121, 1-16 on turf), stakes-winner FRANCIE (8-4-3-0, $162,280, 3-3 on turf), stakes-winner GINSENG (23-4-2-5, $152,652, 0-9 on turf), and stakes-placed MINI SKIRT (17-4-2-0, $188,424, 0-3 on turf)...Whipped weaker when winning maiden at Ellis Park...Gave way willingly to Soldat despite racing with the grain of speed-favoring Saratoga turf course in the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes on September 3...Was hung out wide from tough post position in Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland...Looms a pace factor, but must show greater stamina.
UTLEY (Smart Strike - No Matter What, by Nureyev)
Trainer: John Gosden
Foaled March 10, 2008 in Kentucky...Half-brother to Grade 1 turf winner JUST AS WELL (27-4-8-3, $859,582, 4-16 on turf), multiple Grade 3 turf winner WINTER VIEW (23-5-3-3, $328,909, 5-21 on turf), and multiple Group 1 turf winner RAINBOW VIEW (16-7-2-2, $1,129,464, 7-15 on turf...Sire was a Grade 1 route winner (8-6-1-0, $337,376, unraced on turf)...Dam was a Grade 1 winner on turf (10-3-0-0, $185,726, 3-10 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 route winner E DUBAI (10-4-3-0, $800,800, unraced on turf)...Lightly-raced colt tired in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Lonchamp on October 3...Has tons of upside potential, however, and his pedigree indicates that he may move forward on firm going.
WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday - De Aar, by Gone West)
Trainer: Michael Stidham
Foaled February 14, 2008 in Kentucky...Sold for $50,000 as a yearling (Fasig-Tipton Summer, July 2010)...Sire was a multiple Grade 1 route winner (22-9-6-1, $3,632,664, unraced on turf)...Dam was multiple Grade 3-placed on turf (19-3-6-4, $194,712, 3-19 on turf)...Dam a half-sister to Grade 2-placed turf performer BRYNTIRION (8-1-2-2, $76,715, 1-8 on turf), Group 1-placed turf performer FORT NOTTINGHAM (4-1-1-1, $42,195, 1-4 on turf), multiple Grade 1 turf winner CETEWAYO (37-11-5-4, $1,170,258, 10-34 on turf), Grade 2 turf winner BOWMAN MILL (14-4-4-0, $457,142, 4-14 on turf), turf stakes-winner NTOMBI (8-3-0-0, $67,890, 3-7 on turf), stakes-placed turf performer SARIE MARAIS (12-2-1-1, $51,481, 2-12 on turf), multiple Grade 1 turf winner DYNAFORCE (17-5-3-3, $1,086,772, 5-17 on turf), and Grade 2-placed turf performer THABAZIMIBI (16-2-1-3, $110,612, 2-16 on turf)...Wasn't disgraced making first start against winners, and attempting to rally over speed-favoring surface in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity...Has yet to race on turf, but stellar grass pedigree gives him every chance to run well on the surface.