07/26/2005 11:00PM

Gate works, trainers, and sires keys to betting on 2-year-olds

Email

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Racing for 2-year-olds is in full swing at Woodbine, and there are many factors to consider when handicapping these races.

Maiden sprints for juveniles can be won or lost at the break, and it is important to keep in mind that first-time starters are the most susceptible to greenness at the start.

First-timers that draw the inside or outside post often break away from the field and toward the open space beside them, thereby losing valuable ground. A prime example of this occurred in the fifth race on July 17, when firsters Spiritwood and Run Justin Run both received significant betting support.

Spiritwood, the 2-1 favorite in the eight-horse field, broke toward the rail from the 1-hole, and got away about two lengths slowly. He subsequently moved up into a stalking position, before fading in the final furlong to end up fifth.

Run Justin Run broke outward from post 8, and gave the field about a one-length head start. He was in contention on the outside until the top of the stretch before retreating to finish a distant seventh.

Jockey Jim McAleney believes inexperience often leads to an awkward break with debuting runners.

"If a [first-time starter] breaks from the 1-hole or the extreme outside, they have a tendency to see all the action on their off side, and have an opportunity to move away from the field," McAleney said. "When they break in between horses, they have a greater tendency to break straight."

McAleney said that extensive gate schooling is the key to enabling a first-time starter to get away cleanly from any post position.

Spiritwood, a son of hot freshman sire El Corredor, merits serious consideration in his next start, since he should be better for the experience. His trainer, Josie Carroll, does considerably better second time out than first.

Other American-based freshman sires to look for in sprints include Forest Camp, who has already had a debuting juvenile winner at Woodbine this year; Ghostzapper's half-brother City Zip, a Grade 1 winner at 2; and Five Star Day, Trippi, Songandaprayer, Vision and Verse, and Delaware Township.

The first-year Ontario sires that figure to vie for the leading freshman sire honors in the province are Perigee Moon, One Way Love, and Trajectory.

Perigee Moon already has had a stakes-placed runner, Moon Worship, who was second to Vibank in the Clarendon Stakes. Moon Worship has many stakes opportunities in the future.

Perigee Moon won both of his starts as a 2-year-old, including a Group 3 race in Ireland. His dam, Lovlier Linda, won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, and his half-brother Old Trieste won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes. Perigee Moon is by the successful sire Hennessy, and his offspring have a license to handle most distances, and both dirt and turf.

One Way Love, a restricted stakes winner at 2 and 3, reached full bloom at 5, when he was voted champion sprinter and older horse in Canada. He recently produced a first-start winner, and many of his initial offspring will likely be precocious.

Trajectory, by popular sire of sires Gone West, was a late-developing miler who won the Seagram Cup Stakes at Woodbine during his 4-year-old campaign. He has had a longshot debut winner at this meet, but his progeny eventually might be at their best racing at middle distances.

Woodbine trainers who have excelled with debuting 2-year-olds in recent years include Mark Casse, Reade Baker, Bob Tiller, Scott Fairlie, Jake Nemett, Nick Gonzalez, John Ross, and Sid Attard.

Jockey David Clark, known for his success with babies since the mid-1970's, has won all five 2-year-old stakes run at the meeting. Other riders possessing a good record with 2-year-olds here this year include Emma Wilson, Corey Fraser, Patrick Husbands, and McAleney.