08/08/2014 1:44PM

Hot Sires: Freshman trio off to fast start

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Hashtag Boubon won the Mountaineer Juvenile on Aug. 2 to become the first stakes winner by Super Saver.

Roughly four months in, several trends in the juvenile racing division have surfaced to assist handicappers, prospective owners, and pedigree aficionados alike. Some are practically perennial and are of interest primarily to bettors: Wesley Ward’s brigade broke quickly from the gate at Keeneland, Todd Pletcher’s string is thriving at Saratoga, etc.

Scouting the first runners from freshman sires is an industry-wide practice, however, and this year, juveniles by three central Kentucky sires – Warrior’s Reward, Super Saver, and Lookin At Lucky – have emerged from the pack to bankroll more than $845,000 combined and rack up four stakes wins through Tuesday.

Warrior’s Reward, an 8-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, leads the North American freshman sire list with more than $301,000 in progeny earnings. The Spendthrift Farm stallion has six winners from 10 starters through Tuesday, led by stakes winner Strawberry Baby and Grade 2-placed Bad Read Sanchez. The latter, a colt out of the Pulpit mare Past Twilight, ran well in the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal last week at Del Mar, leading into the stretch before tiring to finish third.

Two other promising runners from Warrior’s Reward’s first crop, both fillies, scored impressive debut wins before finishing second in juvenile stakes. Unbridled Reward romped by 7 3/4 lengths in a Churchill Downs maiden special weight race and then finished second in the Debutante at the same track. The John Oxley-owned filly, who is out of the Unbridled mare Unbridled Appeal, is now with trainer Mark Casse’s contingent at Del Mar. Liatris won her debut at Pimlico by 3 3/4 lengths and was the runner-up to Fashion Alert in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont. That filly is out of the A.P. Indy mare Miss Brickyard, who has produced Group 2 winner Moviesta and another stakes winner.

As a racehorse, Warrior’s Reward was at his best sprinting – taking the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in 2010 at seven furlongs – although he did run third in the Grade 2 Dwyer at 1 1/16 miles. Warrior’s Reward is one of several promising young sires residing at B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift in Lexington. He has some interesting turf influences in his female family and was recently represented in that area by Strong Coffee, an eye-catching Aug. 2 debut winner on grass at Saratoga.

WinStar Farm stallion Super Saver, the winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby, ranks second on the freshman sire list with more than $274,000 in progeny earnings. The well-bred 7-year-old Maria’s Mon horse out of the A.P. Indy mare Supercharger has five winners from 16 starters, and his runners have begun to make serious noise over the past three weeks. Hashtag Bourbon, a half-brother to 2002 Arkansas Derby runner-up Wild Horses out of the Robyn Dancer mare Waltzing With Deb, scored an authoritative win in the Mountaineer Juvenile on the Aug. 2 West Virginia Derby undercard to become Super Saver’s first stakes winner.

The previous weekend, both Competitive Edge and High Dollar Woman won maiden special weight races at Saratoga. Competitive Edge, who won by 10 1/4 lengths going six furlongs July 26, earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure; the Pletcher-trained bay colt is out of the stakes-placed Cape Town mare Magdalena’s Chase and is a relative of 1995 Blue Grass Stakes winner Wild Syn. High Dollar Woman, a filly out of the graded stakes-placed Fusaichi Pegasus mare Melissa Jo, won a six-furlong maiden race a day later at the Spa for Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.

Lookin At Lucky, by Smart Strike, finished sixth to Super Saver in the 2010 Kentucky Derby but then won the Preakness, Haskell, and Grade 2 Indiana Derby en route to his second divisional Eclipse Award. He had also been voted champion 2-year-old male in 2009 after winning 5 of 6 starts, including three Grade 1 races (also that year, his half-brother Kensei won the Grade 2 Dwyer and Jim Dandy stakes). Now at Ashford Stud, Lookin At Lucky is represented by 10 winners from 21 starters through Tuesday, for more than $269,500 in progeny earnings. He ranks third in earnings but first in winners among North American freshman sires, with three of his 10 winners striking overseas.

Lookin At Lucky also ranks first in stakes winners with two, and both came last week – Four Leaf Chief, who won the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Stakes on Aug. 2, and Spider’s Alibi, the winner of the Aug. 4 Graduation Stakes at Assiniboia Downs. Juveniles by Lookin At Lucky also have won at Churchill Downs, Saratoga, Parx Racing, and Gulfstream Park. His son Lucky Player, a Churchill maiden winner and fourth in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor under the Twin Spires, was to start in Saturday’s Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile. Lucky Player’s dam, the Storm Cat mare Janetstickettocats, is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner and $725,000 earner Runway Model.

All three sires posted 2-year-old sales averages exceeding $75,000 for 2014 – led by Super Saver’s $142,735 – and all three have been represented by one six-figure yearling apiece through the first six weeks of the yearling sales season. They also will be major presences at the behemoth Keeneland September auction. Warrior’s Reward has 35 yearlings cataloged for that sale, Super Saver 54, and Lookin At Lucky 40.

*** The weekend races on Aug. 9-10 followed this article's original publication, and in Saturday's fourth at Saratoga, Requite gave Warrior's Reward yet another juvenile winner when leading all the way to impressively score in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight. The George Weaver-trained bay colt is out of the stakes-placed Carson City mare New Hope Seven, who has produced three other winners. Grade 1 winner and prominent Darley sire Hard Spun is a notable family member.

In Sunday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special, I Spent It rallied stoutly thorugh a small opening along the rail and drew clear to give Super Saver his second stakes winner. The bay colt is owned by the Lieblongs, who bought him for $600,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida selected 2-year-olds in training sale, and trained by Tony Dutrow. He improved to 2 for 2 in his young career and, like Hashtag Bourbon a week prior, appeared to relish added distance. I Spent It is out of the winning Sky Mesa mare Rateeba, and is from the female family of 2002 Saratoga Special winner and sire Zavata.