11/14/2006 12:00AM

A list worth checking twice


Through such an exercise it is possible to get fix on what to expect from these potential stars through their transition into the 3-year-old racing season. Equally valuable insights can be gleaned by watching the way these horses are prepared by their trainers to meet the challenges ahead.

At this moment, any good list of male juveniles must begin with Street Sense, the impressive 10-length winner the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Although he rode the golden rail on BC Day, Street Sense turned in an electric burst of speed coming out of the final turn that left a strong visual impression of his best passing gear. A son of the 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, Street Sense left the impression that his extraordinary 108 Beyer Speed Figure was no fluke. Yet, it is rare for a top 2-year-old to run so fast and still have room for improvement at 3.

Beyond Street Sense, there were many young horses who made positive impressions this year, including a handful who did not make it to the Breeders' Cup. Below is my list of the best in each division, including a few from Mike Watchmaker's weekly listings and a few from John Asher, the experienced observer of the Kentucky racing scene and vice president of communications at Churchill Downs. The list includes a few things to watch for as these horses mature into 2007.

Horses who ran in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile:

Street Sense: As noted, he showed the kind of acceleration that usually identifies Derby types. Trainer Carl Nafzger probably will bring him back to competition next February at Gulfstream Park. Nafzger won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic with Unbridled in 1990.

Circular Quay: Somewhat lazy, small-bodied colt with an explosive late kick is one of several prospects trained by Todd Pletcher. As previously mentioned in this space, Pletcher might consider using blinkers to address some issues with this son of 1995 Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch. A bit more weight on his frame next year also might help him as the distances lengthen and his rivals mature and grow stronger.

Great Hunter: Came out of his troubled third-place finish in the BC Juvenile with minor cuts and bruises. Great Hunter's trainer, Doug O'Neill, never was able to get the 2005 juvenile champion, Stevie Wonderboy, to Churchill Downs due to assorted physical setbacks. O'Neill gets another chance with this stoutly bred son of Aptitude.

Scat Daddy: Trained by Pletcher and winner of the one-mile Champagne Stakes, he was negatively affected by racing in the slower outside lanes when fourth in the BC. Sired by Johannesburg, winner of the 2001 BC Juvenile at Belmont (around one turn) and out of a Mr. Prospector mare, Scat Daddy still must prove that he is just as good around two turns as he has been around one.

U D Ghetto: Overcame post 12 to win the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack surface at Turfway before he endured a very rough trip when seventh in the BC Juvenile. Trained by patient Anthony Reinstedler. Seems bred mostly for middle distances on dirt and turf.

Pegasus Wind: Very fast, underdeveloped son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who does not have the army of promising juveniles he used to have. This one showed flashes in all of his starts, including the BC Juvenile, when he faded to 11th after chasing the pace racing in the slower outside lanes. Probably a miler, but Lukas believes he has a chance to make it to the Kentucky Derby.

Juveniles who did not run in the Breeders' Cup:

Nobiz Like Shobiz: Imposing physical specimen won a maiden race by nearly a dozen lengths in his career debut before a very adventurous and gritty second to Scat Daddy in the Champagne Stakes. Trainer Barclay Tagg wisely skipped the BC Juvenile to give the large-bodied colt time to mature. An exciting prospect in the hands of a sound, albeit ultra-conservative trainer who can become aggressive when he believes in his horse. Likely to follow the Florida-New York route during the winter and spring.

Minefield: Pletcher trainee won his debut at 4 1/2 furlongs by 8 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs on May 14 and was unable to make any of the stakes during the summer or fall due to sore shins and a minor illness. Minefield resurfaced at Churchill on Nov. 11, and made a strong visual impression on Asher with a convincing victory in a seven-furlong allowance race. Bred to handle at least nine furlongs.

Day Pass: Kiaran McLaughlin-trained son of Five Star Day was an easy winner of a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at Belmont on Oct. 7 before his overpowering win in the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 3. That was the day before the BC Juvenile was run at Churchill Downs, which clearly demonstrates the patience and common sense that is a fundamental part of the Darley-McLaughlin approach to their best horses. Likely to disappear for the winter, by way of Dubai, but nothing is cast in stone. In any case, this is a horse that made a strong impression on Watchmaker, among other observers.

Horse Greeley: Talented Del Mar Futurity winner trained by Dick Mandella was injured in the Norfolk Stakes and will need time for healing. May not run until March or later.

Grasshopper: Neil Howard trainee finished a good second in his seven-furlong career debut at Keeneland on Oct. 28 and came back quickly to score nicely in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill on Nov. 11. By Dixie Union out of a Mr. Prospector mare, this one has a balanced pedigree and he just might develop into Howard's best 3-year-old since 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Bianchi's Boy: Son of long-winded Cryptoclearance has had troubled trips in his three maiden races, including his stop-and-go third in Grasshopper's victory at Churchill. Seems to be coming around, and trainer Dale Romans has a decision to make: Should he run Bianchi's Boy back in another maiden race before the end of the year, or stop on him for two months before starting up again during February or March? In either case, he will be an intriguing horse to follow.

Tiz Wonderful: Son of two-time BC Classic winner Tiznow won his two starts by wide margins, including a maiden sprint at Saratoga on Sept. 2 and the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill going a mile on Oct. 29. Been trained expertly by Scott Blasi, who has been handling Steve Asmussen's horses while Asmussen has been serving a six-month suspension. Probably going to follow the Louisiana-Arkansas route during the winter, but also might be shipped to California where his sire began his excellent career.

EZ Warrior: Won both of his starts during the summer at Hollywood Park for trainer Bob Baffert, including the Hollywood Juvenile at six furlongs on July 4. Has not run since, and as a son of Exploit seems bred primarily to be a good sprinter-miler.

Unbridled Express: Beat Street Sense in his second start to graduate at Churchill on July 9, then was third in the Hopeful won by Circular Quay, with Scat Daddy second. Bernie Flint trains Unbridled Express, a son of Unbridled Song, and he has had assorted issues that may hinder his development. Worth watching.

One interesting footnote to the above list. Very few top-notch 2-year-olds were based in California this year. It will be interesting to see if that profile changes at Santa Anita in 2007.