02/27/2012 3:39PM

Kentucky Derby 2012: Under the Radar - Scatman

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Scat Man (right) battles with Secret Circle in the second division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Earning a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in a February prep race at one mile is a far cry from running competitively over 10 furlongs on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, either.

While Bob Baffert deservedly received most of the accolades for sweeping both divisions of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Feb. 20, another colt, an “Under the Radar” runner, made a nice impression in his own right.

Scatman, trained by veteran conditioner Michael Lauer, scooted right to the lead in the second division of the Southwest. The bay colt carved out honest fractions of 23.21 seconds, 46.81, and 1:11.25 while hounded by odds-on favorite, and eventual winner, Secret Circle, who prevailed impressively in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint last fall at Churchill Downs.

Secret Circle continued to pressure the leader as the field swung into the short Oaklawn stretch, but Scatman reached for something more in the final eighth before finishing a half-length shy. It was 5 1/2 lengths back to the third-place finisher, Adirondack King. The final time of 1:37.08 was about a full second quicker than the first division won by Baffert’s Castaway. Scatman received a 101 Beyer Speed Figure and is one of only four sophomore males (Algorithms, Secret Circle, and El Padrino being the others) that have cracked the triple-digit Beyer plateau in races contested at one mile or longer this year. Perhaps most impressive about Scatman’s outing is that the late foal won’t technically turn 3 until May 18. He may still be maturing, folks.

Born in Kentucky, Scatman is by Scat Daddy, a son of juvenile champion Johannesburg that prevailed in graded races ranging in distance from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Todd Pletcher throughout his career, Scat Daddy took both the Grade 2 Sanford and Grade 1 Champagne as a juvenile of 2006. The following year, Scat Daddy emerged victorious in both the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby (99 Beyer top), before finishing a disappointing 18th of 20 runners in the Kentucky Derby, the final start of Scat Daddy’s career.

Scatman is one of a handful of promising 3-year-olds from Scat Daddy’s first crop. Daddy Nose Best recently won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at nine furlongs over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate. Shared Property took the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last year at one mile over the Arlington Polytrack. On turf, Scatman is represented by British Group 2 winner Daddy Long Legs and Grade 3 winner Finale.

The dam, the sprint-placed Grand Slam mare Hit It Here Cafe, is a half-sister to 14-time stakes winner Strawberry Morn, who did her best running at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, but fell short in several outings at nine panels. The dam also is a half-sister to stakes-placed sprinter C. R. Special (44-10-6-7, $82,489) and stakes-placed router Rohaani (finished second in a 1 3/16-mile event in Dubai).

The second dam is a half-sister to stakes-winning sprinter Ayanka (36-8-5-5, $197,884, dam of Grade 1-placed turf router Shooting Party), while the third dam is a full sister to Grade 3 winner Herecomesthebride (dam of Group 1-placed turf runner Riverbride).

Scatman was offered for sale at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling auction, but was bought back for $14,000 by his breeders, the JEOG Racing LLC of Jim and Ellen O’Grady.

Scatman cut his teeth at the historic Aiken Trials in South Carolina on March 19, 2011. Racing a quarter-mile in The Coward Trophy for maiden colts and geldings, Scatman finished a well-beaten second behind Friscan, a Two Punch colt who would next win his pari-mutuel debut at Keeneland before finishing third in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Sent to trainer Eddie Kenneally, Scatman competed in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park on Aug. 14, but was unfortunate in tackling odds-on favorite Motor City. Scatman prompted the pace while four wide, drew abreast of Motor City turning for home, but was turned away by that one in the lane. The Scat Daddy colt finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner, a gelding that concluded his juvenile campaign in October with a victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Moved to Arlington Park for his second parimutuel start on Sept. 5, Scatman caught a speed-favoring Polytrack surface and was no match for gate-to-wire winner Here Comes Frazier, a colt that drew away to win by seven lengths. Scatman rushed up to prompt the winner going into the turn of the six-furlong test, but tired to fifth and didn’t seem to handle the going as well as he did the Ellis Park dirt.

On Oct. 13, Scatman graduated at six furlongs over the Keeneland Polytrack in the faster division of maiden special weights. Breaking from the far outside post in the field of 12 juveniles, Scatman battled for the early lead with Halon and put that rival away en route to a 3 1/4-length win, despite being late to make his final lead change.

Scatman moved to Lauer’s barn at Oaklawn for his 3-year-old campaign. According to DRF statistics, Lauer boasts 695 lifetime victories and has trained several Indiana-bred champions. In his first start for Lauer, Scatman won by 3 1/2 lengths in an entry-level optional claimer on Jan. 29. He pressed the pace while three wide, took over turning for home, changed leads on cue, and went on to a professional tally in his final race before the Southwest.

Although Scatman is one of the fastest sophomores in the country, he has yet to face the very best in his crop. Also, his fort é is his early speed, and he may need to learn how to rate and finish before he can take that all-important next step. Still, the lightly raced runner has plenty of potential and deserves an opportunity in a race like the Grade 3, $500,000 Rebel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 17 at Oaklawn.