Updated on 09/18/2011 12:33AM

From near and far, the most promising babies gather here


Racing constantly renews itself every year with a new crop of 2-year-olds, and Saratoga is the holy land for these babies.

Three-year-olds take the spotlight in the historic Travers Stakes, or Midsummer Derby as it is sometimes called, but it is the abundant display of the best-bred 2-year-old Thoroughbreds that characterizes the Saratoga meet every year.

What makes Saratoga racing so unique is that it draws from so many parts of the country. Trainers of 2-year-olds who have shown any kind of ability converge on Saratoga not only from the downstate New York tracks, but from Kentucky, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New England, and even Canada. It is what separates Saratoga from any other racing venue in the U.S. and makes it the premier place for 2-year-old racing.

By sheer volume, Todd Pletcher once again leads all trainers with his army of juveniles, headed by two exciting colts - Circular Quay, winner of the Bashford Manor Stakes, and Scat Daddy, impressive winner of his only start. While 24 of his babies are listed here, Pletcher will be unveiling many other first-time starters at this meet.

Bobby Frankel's top juvenile prospects have been training at Saratoga for some time and they include First Defence, an Unbridled's Song colt out of major stakes winner Honest Lady, and Les Grands Trois, a colt from the first crop of leading freshman sire Officer.

While Eoin Harty has some juveniles at Del Mar, his best babies are at Saratoga. His select group includes Maxey Boy, a half-brother to Rockport Harbor by Forestry who finished second in his recent debut at Belmont. Bred to succeed early is Incriminate, an Unbridled's Song colt who is a full brother to the very quick Value Plus and Werblin.

John Kimmel has a large group of expensive horseflesh, led by Mr. Sidney, a $3.9 million sales-topper by Storm Cat out of multiple Grade 1 winner Tomisue's Delight, who is a full sister to Horse of the Year Mineshaft. Kimmel also has Grand Merger, a full sister to Stephen Got Even; Jaeger Man, a half-brother to champion sprinter Squirtle Squirt by Fusaichi Pegasus; and Let There Be Light, a half-brother to Arch by Deputy Minister.

And what would Saratoga be without the famed black and cherry colors of the Phipps family? Shug McGaughey's royally bred juveniles include Inquisitive, a Giant's Causeway colt out of Grade 1 winner, Fantastic Find, and Boca Grande, a filly by A.P. Indy out of stakes winner Country Hideaway.

An increasing presence at Saratoga, Graham Motion has a well-bred group of juveniles that bear watching. His group includes Exult, a half-brother to Acceptable by El Prado; Cat Charmer, a half-sister to Impeachment by Storm Cat; and two runners who should find their best strides on grass - White Diamonds, a son of Johannesburg, and Zenfully, a son of grass champion Cozzene out of a Storm Cat mare from the female family that produced Glowing Tribute, Priceless Gem, Affectionately, and Allez France.

Rick Violette, John Ward, H. Allen Jerkens, Jimmy Jerkens, Patrick Biancone, Stanley Hough, and Wally Dollase all have 2-year-olds with "wow" pedigrees that will attract plenty of attention. In particular, keep an eye on Hostile Takeover, a Dixie Union half-brother to Honor in War who has been working well for Violette, and two from Ward - Summer Wildfire, a half-sister to Songandaprayer by speed influence, Forest Wildcat, and To Dream About, a half-sister to Dr. Pleasure by Monarchos.

Look for a continued rivalry between Officer and Johannesburg, who lead all freshman sires. Many of their unraced foals will make their debuts at Saratoga. Other freshman sires will be represented at the meet, including sprint champion Orientate, Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, Include, Came Home, Jump Start, Mizzen Mast, and Yonaguska.

The accompanying list of 133 2-year-olds is just the tip of the iceberg as there are dozens more babies not included here.

High-profile trainers Steve Asmussen, Mark Hennig, Bill Mott, and Nick Zito declined to identify the 2-year-olds they are expected to start at the meet.