09/09/2003 11:00PM

Futurity produces top stallions


LAS VEGAS - There are many 2-year-old stakes races with the name Futurity, but the oldest and most prestigious is The Futurity Stakes, to be run at Belmont Sunday and originally run at the old Sheepshead Bay Racetrack. The race has been run at varying distances since its inaugural running in 1888, and has been contested at one mile since 1994.

The star-studded roster of past Futurity winners who went on to become prominent stallions includes Menow, Bimelech, Tom Fool, Native Dancer, Porterhouse, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Intentionally, Cyane, Never Bend, Bold Lad, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, and Affirmed.

Unbridled's Song defeated Hennessy in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile but he didn't win the 2-year-old championship. Maria's Mon won the title that year, even though he was unable to compete in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile due to injury. The Futurity was the race that cemented the championship for Maria's Mon, who defeated a strong field that included Louis Quatorze and Honour and Glory. In his very first crop, Maria's Mon produced the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos.

Grand Slam won the 1997 Futurity and is among the best young sons of Gone West at stud. His first crop includes Pennsylvania Derby winner Grand Hombre, Dwyer and Jim Dandy winner Strong Hope, and Stellar, a half-sister to Gygistar. Grand Slam's runners are equally proficient on dirt and turf, and he is clearly making a rapid ascent up the stallion ranks.

Showing early maturity at 2 in 1998, Lemon Drop Kid won the Futurity and then the next year the Belmont Stakes. Lemon Drop Kid's first crop of 2-year-olds race in 2004, and his yearlings are a big hit. This past week at the Keeneland September sale, a Lemon Drop Kid yearling brought $1.8 million.

Can Cuvee get the distance?

With three victories from four starts, including a 7 1/2-length romp in the Saratoga Special in his most recent start, Cuvee heads a strong group of juveniles in this year's Futurity. By Carson City out of a Star de Naskra mare, Cuvee has a pedigree that is all about high speed, and the one-mile distance may be his limit. In addition to being by speed influence Carson City, he comes from one of the best female lines cultivated by the late Verne Winchell. His dam is a half-sister to stakes winners Olympio and Call Now, as well as Carol's Wonder (the dam of Wild Wonder), Bistra (the dam of Early Flyer and Fun House), and Dana Nicole (the dam of Bien Nicole). Make no mistake, Cuvee has a champion sprinter's pedigree.

Tumblebrutus, who ships in from Europe for Aidan O'Brien, is a sexy addition to the Futurity. Tumblebrutus is a full brother to Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat out of multiple stakes winner Mariah's Storm), who ran a gallant second to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic in his first start on dirt, and Tumblebrutus should also adapt well to dirt. In his most recent start on Aug. 23, Tumblebrutus finished second in the seven-furlong Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at Ireland's The Curragh.

El Prado Rob won his maiden with flair, and his pedigree (El Prado-Seeking the Gold cross) suggests he will only get better with maturity and distance. The one-mile distance is a perfect fit at this point in his career. By El Prado, last year's leading sire, due mainly to the exploits of Medaglia d'Oro, El Prado Rob comes from a prolific stakes-producing family. His dam, Jurisprudence, is a full sister to Australian Group 1 winner Secret Savings, and a half-brother, Law of the Sea, was third in the 1995 Hopeful. Jurisprudence is out of a full sister to Time for a Change and a half-sister to both Adjudicating and Dispute. Jurisprudence is also an example of the Rasmussen Factor, as she is inbred 3x4 to stakes winner and the influential broodmare Broadway. Broadway produced 1967

2-year-old champion filly Queen of the Stage and multiple stakes winner Reviewer as well as Con Game, the dam of Seeking the Good, Fast Play, Stacked Pack and Tricky Game, who is the dam of King Cugat.

The broodmare Roll Over Baby has produced nothing but animals with intense speed, and her latest offspring to reach the races, Value Plus (Unbridled's Song), looked just like his siblings in his eye-opening Saratoga debut. Value Plus is a full brother to the sprinter Werblin, and a half-brother to sprinters Roll Hennessy Roll (Hennessy) and Majorbigtimesheet (Carson City). Value Plus will be part of a very fast pace, and may have to duel with the more experienced Cuvee early.

Flushing Meadows is by Grand Slam, and is a member of the powerful Godolphin-Darley Stud stable. A half-brother to stakes winner Crafty Guy, Flushing Meadows finished third in the Sanford Stakes, 9 1/2 lengths behind winner Chapel Royal.

Distressed Debt is by Smoke Glacken, a champion sprinter who has become a successful sire of runners who can carry their speed to middle distances. Distressed Debt's female family produced Belmont Stakes winner Go and Go as well as Twilight Agenda and current European 3-year-old group winner Refuse to Bend.

Bsoston Brahmin is by champion 2-year-old Boston Harbor (who is now in Japan) and is out of a mare by Unbridled. His second dam is stakes winner Seaquay.

My Futurity selections: El Prado Rob, Tumblebrutus, Cuvee, Value Plus.