11/02/2004 12:00AM

Hollywood Futurity may crown champ


LAS VEGAS - The aftermath of the Breeders' Cup is that all of the various divisions yielded championships, except for one.

The 2-year-old colts, who were widely perceived to be a good bunch based on fast figures, were exposed by a second-rate European juvenile as an ordinary lot. Wilko may indeed have benefited from a switch in surface from turf to dirt, but he is not remotely in the same league as Arazi or Johannesburg, who were something special even before their Juvenile victories. In my Daily Racing Form column last week, I pointed out one running line in Wilko's past performances that stood out. Five starts back, he finished second to Shamardal (Giant's Causeway), who is likely to be named a champion after his stunning victory in the group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. Last Saturday, the switch to dirt and possibly the addition of Lasix was the answer for Wilko, who beat up on a group of colts who are unlikely to be heard from in next year's classics.

So, who will be voted champion 2-year-old colt?

Wilko will undoubtedly get votes because he won the biggest juvenile race of the season, but is that enough? Afleet Alex, who had an eventful start, bobbling at the break and then bumping with Consolidator and Roman Ruler, was four wide on both the first and far turns and put in a commendable performance. His record now stands at 4 victories and 2 runner-up finishes in 6 starts. He won the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 2 Sanford, and his second-place finishes came in two Grade 1's - the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. While he ran admirably in his last two races, he nevertheless failed to win, leaving the door open for a late-season challenge from Declan's Moon.

Determining this year's top juvenile may come down to the Hollywood Futurity. If Afleet Alex, Roman Ruler, Sun King, Consolidator, or Proud Accolade had won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, it would have been enough to garner an Eclipse and it would not matter what Declan's Moon did in the Hollywood Futurity. But the Hollywood Futurity (a race for which Wilko is also under consideration) now takes on added significance in the wake of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

In the best 2-year-old stakes race of the year, the Del Mar Futurity, Declan's Moon and Roman Ruler hooked up in a memorable stretch battle and Declan's Moon prevailed by a neck. It was another 9 1/2 lengths back to the overmatched field. Declan's Moon was coming off only one race, a maiden victory at Del Mar earlier in the meet, while Roman Ruler had won a maiden race and romped in the Best Pal Stakes.

If Declan's Moon puts on the same show in the Hollywood Futurity as he did in the Del Mar Futurity, he would merit serious consideration for a championship.

Declan's Moon is by Malibu Moon, who is fast ascending the stallion ranks with just his second crop. Malibu Moon went to stud at Country Life Farm in Maryland with little fanfare despite having a purple pedigree. He now stands at Castleton Lyons Farm in Kentucky. By A.P. Indy, Malibu Moon is out of the Mr. Prospector mare, Macoumba, who won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at 2. Macoumba is out of another Group 1-winning mare, Maximova, whose record as a broodmare overshadowed her accomplishments on the track. In addition to Macoumba, Maximova produced four other stakes winners: Septieme Ciel, Maxigroom, Balchaia, and Manureva.

Another classic horse for Frankel?

There are other 2-year-olds in addition to Declan's Moon who did not compete in the Juvenile who should be heard from over the winter. In particular, a Bobby Frankel-trained colt named Vitruvian holds special appeal.

Vitruvian, who was third in his career debut in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on Oct. 1 at Belmont Park, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Belmont on Oct. 17 in his second start by 10 3/4 lengths in a race originally carded for turf. Vitruvian is a colt ideally suited for next year's classics, being by the 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and out of the prodigious broodmare Aviance.

Aviance, a 22-year-old mare by Northfields, is also the dam of English and Irish 3-year-old champion filly Chimes of Freedom (the dam of stakes winners Aldebaran, Good Journey, Tomisue's Indy, and Sea of Showers) and a Grade 1 stakes winner, Denon.

Lemon Drop Kid is a freshman sire and his runners are showing signs that they will be much more effective stretching out in distances longer than one mile on dirt and turf. Vitruvian has all the earmarks of becoming a better horse at 3 and with continued progress could turn out to be Frankel's top hope for the Kentucky Derby.