02/20/2012 2:57PM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Under the Radar - My Adonis

Barbara D. Livingston
My Adonis is scheduled to make his next start in the March 3 Gotham at Aqueduct.

Some of the winter snowbirds are returning north early. Chief among them is Hansen, the juvenile champion of 2011 who suffered his first setback in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. Hansen is scheduled to make his next start in the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 3 and is expected to control the press clippings, and the pace, for that race.

But, it is a 3-year-old who finished just a half-length behind Hansen in the Holy Bull while improving his Beyer 9 points over his best juvenile number that is cycling under the radar. Already a stakes winner around two turns, this colt goes out for connections that won a classic race in 2011.

This colt is My Adonis.

My Adonis is a homebred racing for George and Lori Hall. The Halls, along with their trainer Kelly Breen had three horses on the early portion of the 2011 Triple Crown trail. Multiple stakes winner Sweet Ducky, second in the 2011 Holy Bull, was sold privately to Ramzan Kadyrov, the controversial president of Chechnya, shortly after that race. Pants On Fire, a homebred, won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in the spring before finishing ninth at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Pants On Fire won the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes in his first start following the Derby.

Then, of course, there is Ruler On Ice, the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner who propelled the Halls and Breen into the national spotlight. Dismissed at 24-1 for the Belmont, Ruler On Ice splashed away over the sloppy going to outstay subsequent Jim Dandy and Travers winner Stay Thirsty by three-quarters of a length. Ruler On Ice finished best of his age group when third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall.

My Adonis was foaled on April 23, 2009 in Kentucky. His sire, Pleasantly Perfect, is a towering son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony. Pleasantly Perfect, trained by Richard Mandella, earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in his final 15 North American starts. Among those races were three Grade 1 or Group 1 victories at the American classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. Pleasantly Perfect won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita with a career-best 119 Beyer. The following season, he took the $6 million Dubai World Cup and the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

At stud, Pleasantly Perfect is represented by Shared Account, the upset winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at 11 furlongs.

George Hall purchased My Adonis’s dam, the Elusive Quality mare Silent Justice, for $90,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling auction. Silent Justice never started, but she is a half-sister to Grade 3 Sprint winner Lakota Brave (Ancient Title Handicap with 106 Beyer), and Silverdale, a 12-furlong winner on turf in England who placed in the Group 3 Queen’s Vase Stakes going 2 miles at Royal Ascot.

My Adonis made his career debut in a maiden special weight for juveniles contested over 51/2 furlongs at Monmouth on July 2, 2011. He broke best of the six first-time starters, but was outsprinted badly following a sharp opening quarter of 21.80. Jockey Elvis Trujillo asked My Adonis on the turn and the colt responded by rallying along the inside to finish second behind the impressive favored winner, Scallion. My Adonis seemed to run in spots during the race and was a bit late to make his final lead change, but it was promising that he was running on at the end. The third- and fourth-place finishers from that maiden race returned to graduate next out.

Twenty-three days later, Breen stretched My Adonis around two turns for a maiden special weight at a mile and 70 yards. The colt bobbled at the break and was pocketed briefly behind the leader going into the first turn. He soon settled in the two path while tracking the longshot leader and went right on by with about 2 1/2 furlongs to race. My Adonis was soon confronted by Chief Energy, however, and could not resist that foe while racing on his left lead for most of the stretch. Although beaten, My Adonis once again finished ahead of two next-out winners.

My Adonis made his third start of the Monmouth meet in a one-mile maiden special weight on Sept. 5, but had the misfortune to tackled Sabercat, who began a three-race win streak that afternoon. After nipping My Adonis, Sabercat scored in both the Garden State Stakes at Monmouth and the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot.

The Sept. 5 maiden race was a two-horse affair on paper and Trujillo parked My Adonis off Sabercat’s shoulder after the first quarter. My Adonis turned on the heat a bit on the backstretch, and My Adonis and Sabercat drew away from the rest of the field heading into the far turn. My Adonis changed leads smartly this time around but could not reel in Sabercat.

That race was My Adonis’s best effort to date, and the colt graduated in his next start 19 days later at Monmouth. Racing over a muddy track for the first time and in his initial start in blinkers, My Adonis broke sharply, but Trujillo allowed 30-1 shot Gold Policy the lead going into the first turn. My Adonis surged to the front with three furlongs to race and beat back the stretch challenge of favored Tritap to prevail by 4 3/4 lengths with an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.

Breen’s main focus became the $1 million Delta Jackpot on Nov.19 and he wisely sent My Adonis to Delta Downs for a prep race over the track in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes at one mile on Oct. 22.

My Adonis was sent away the 3-5 favorite for his first start under the lights and he handled Delta’s tight turns very nicely. Trujillo and My Adonis tracked the pace while in behind the leaders before angling three wide going into the first turn. My Adonis reeled in the pacesetters entering the final turn and was never threatened to the finish, scoring by 5 1/4 lengths.

The Jackpot turned into a disaster for My Adonis, however, as the colt engaged in an early duel with Grade 1 winner Drill through sizzling fractions of 22.11 and 45.41. My Adonis was the first to crack, but the race eventually went to closers. The runners that were 10th, sixth, ninth and eighth, respectively, after the half-mile call occupied the first four spots at the finish.

My Adonis made his first start at 3 in a very salty running of the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 29. The Holy Bull, a one-turn mile, featured juvenile champion Hansen; Algorithms, an undefeated performer from the Todd Pletcher barn; and Consortium, a promising Darley homebred.

My Adonis was bumped at the start of the Holy Bull. He fell far behind, uncharacteristically far behind, as Hansen blazed the way on an uncontested early lead. My Adonis, 20 lengths off the leader at the second call, finally crept into the pan shot as the field turned for home. Trujillo eased My Adonis widest heading into the straight and My Adonis finished his final quarter over the sloppy track in a respectable 24.92 to place third behind Algorithms and Hansen. My Adonis galloped out nicely after the race and may simply have been too far behind to make a true case for himself.

Undeterred, Breen will chase Hansen to the Big Apple for the Gotham and a return to two turns may be just what the doctor ordered. My Adonis must continue to improve, however, as Hansen should also be wound tighter for his second start of the season.