07/18/2012 2:52PM

Saratoga: Pletcher, Brown and Mott loaded with 2-year-olds

Barbara D. Livingston
The filly Can't Explain will represent trainer Todd Pletcher in Friday's Schuylerville at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – While there will be 54 stakes races run here this meet, not all will have the anticipation that comes with virtually every 2-year-old maiden race run at Saratoga.

The potential unveiling of racing’s next star is the backbone of each Saratoga summer, and this year there could be more 2-year-old races than in years past.

The New York Racing Association recently announced that all 2-year-old maiden dirt sprints at Saratoga will be limited to eight starters, creating the likelihood that on many days a maiden race will be split into two divisions. Friday is a perfect example as a maiden race for 2-year-old fillies drew enough entries to have two eight-horse fields plus one also-eligible in each division.

Whenever trainer Todd Pletcher is asked about his prospects for a successful Saratoga, he always says it depends how well his 2-year-olds perform. Since he has won the training title seven of the last 10 years, those performances have been pretty good.

This year’s crop has gotten off to an exceptional start. From his first 19 juvenile starters, Pletcher has 9 wins and 8 seconds.

[Complete coverage of racing at Saratoga: News, PPs, and video]

Can’t Explain, a 4 1/2-length maiden winner in her second start, will run in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville.

On Sunday, Pletcher will send out debut winners Rose Junction and Onetwentyeight in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sanford for colts and geldings.

Shanghai Bobby, a son of Harlan’s Holiday who is 2 for 2, and Drum Roll, who overcame a slow start to win a maiden race at Monmouth, are being pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Aug. 12.

But wait, there’s more. Plenty more. Pletcher has an army of maidens led by Palace Malice, who was second to Carried Interest in the most visually impressive maiden race run at Belmont Park.

Among the horses Pletcher has yet to start are Oldwick, a son of Street Boss who fetched $825,000 at auction, and Well Lawyered, a half-brother to the Grade 1 winner Drill by Lawyer Ron.

M Six is a New York-bred colt out of the four-time graded-stakes-winning turf mare J’ray. Interestingly, Pletcher said the horse has handled dirt extremely well in his training. Archwarrior and Charming Kitten, a half-brother to Queen’splatekitten, bear watching.

In the filly division, Pletcher has already won with I am Discreet and run second with Sweet N Discreet.

His unstarted juvenile fillies include Dreaming of Julia, who is by A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1 Test winner Dream Rush.

“Very solid so far,” Pletcher said of Dreaming of Julia. “She’s a couple of works away; an A.P. Indy with some speed on the bottom side. Nice filly.”

Mercellina d’Oro, and Citizen Emma are likely to show up on the turf.

Chad Brown has yet to start a 2-year-old this year, but he has a deep group, many of whom he feels will be better with the longer distance races typically run later in the meet.

“This group of horses I have from top to bottom, I can’t be positive of all their quality yet, but they look like they were sent to me with the future in mind,” Brown said. “Not many overly precocious get-what-you-can-early types were sent to me and I’m fine with that.”

Among the colts Brown is high on are Bakken, a son of Distorted Humor and a half-brother to Chace City, who won the Saratoga Special here in 2006. Brown said he believes Air Squadron, All That, and Favor Factor could be true distance horses. Brown likes Balance the Books on the turf.

Among his filly prospects are Fame and Fortune, whose dam, Stop Traffic, won eight stakes, including the Grade 1 Ballerina, and Ostourah, a full sister to the multiple graded stakes winner Trinniberg. J’esprit and private purchase Watsdachances are other fillies Brown hopes to run at the meet.

In the New York-bred division, Brown said he believes he has runners in Neck of the Moon, Bourbon Twist, and Heart of New York.

Bill Mott is another who has littered the Saratoga work tab with 2-year-olds, with no fewer than 36 showing works at Saratoga. He has welcomed Claiborne Farm back to his barn and that outfit has sent him some babies, including Apex, a son of Dynaformer out of the debut-winning mare Enth, and Squeal, a Tiznow filly out of the second-out-winning mare Yell.

Among the juvenile prospects that have shown Mott some early speed in the morning are Boston Proper, a son of Speightstown, and Endorphins Fly, a son of Distorted Humor out of the Grade 1 Diana winner My Typhoon.

Mott, like Brown, said he believes he has 2-year-olds that will prefer longer distances.

In Bold Dance, Mott has a half-brother to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. In King of Broadway, Mott has a Sky Mesa colt out of a dam, Broadway Express, who is a half-sister to Belmont and Travers runner-up Vision and Verse.

“If you look at my pedigrees the majority of them [want] a little further,” Mott said.

Tapicat is a daughter of Tapit out of a mare who is a half to Grade 1 winner Pohave. She brought $725,000 at action.

The colts Pagets, New Line, and Fire Guard, as well as the fillies Flotilla and Emollient are Juddmonte Farms homebreds.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has some well-bred 2-year-olds for Darley Stable that include North Slope, a son of Elusive Quality who looked very good in a recent gate workout at Belmont Park. His second dam is the champion Ajina.

“He’s training very well. When he gets started I’m not sure, but he will start in the first book,” McLaughlin said.

Art Scene, a daughter A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1-winning mare Musical Chimes “appears to be a nice one,” McLaughlin said.

Irsaal is a More Than Ready colt that McLaughlin trains for Shadwell Stable.

Trainer Rick Violette has sent out arguably the best-looking juvenile prospect seen in New York this year in Carried Interest, who beat the Pletcher-trained Palace Malice. He is being pointed to the Saratoga Special on Aug. 12.

Violette said he believes he has a fairly deep group of 2-year-olds and starts the filly Lenderoflastresort in Friday’s fifth and the colt Spurious Precision on Saturday. Later in the meet, look for the Freud filly Effie Trinket as one he expects to perform well.

“She has done everything right and very professional and has a bright future,” Violette said.

Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
The fastest horses are 2 yos they don't know how to rate yet, and the precocious 2yo's are the first to race. Those horses are run in sprints. The later developing 2 year olds are pointed to the route races. I don't have a problem with 2 yo's running. I don't think they're run into the ground. They run at the earliest once a month. or every six to eight weeks. Claimers have to run more times to earn they're keep. The problem I see is when a horse clearly does not fit at the class level and still gets entered in the same class races ala Optimist. That horse clearly did not figure. Why run him over and over where he can't win? the same should apply to 2yo's that are overmatched. I like what was done with Silver Charm, and Louis Quatorze. They ran as 2 yo's in one stakes not beyond a mile. Were put on the shelf until the 3 yo campaign. The same was done with IHA and his races were spaced out. He wasn't run into the ground, not every 2 yo is run into the ground. People are just pissed off because a potential triple crown horse got hurt and was scratched before the Belmont so they wanna point they're fingers at somebody hey look at the bad guy. . IHA wasn't overaced or overworked for that matter. He was galloped into all of his races which was smart of O'neill to do he knew his horse. All this hoopla is just the selfish desire for FANS to see a triple crown winner. Racing is racing and you guys are calling for more and more regulation of the sport which is only gonna stifle the sport even more until they're isn't any sport left. Please already if you don't wager on this sport or donating money or time to better the sport you're not helping anyone or any horse. So enough already. And another thing please enough with the woulda coulda shoulda with horses that are no longer racing its tired already.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
BTW good luck to Optimizer in the Virginia Derby, maybe he's finally on the surface where he can accomplish something.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Just one more rant before the espresso wears off. Being that the new points system for The Kentucky Derby has been refocused towards 3 year old stakes why can't these influencial trainers change their ways and follow this agenda? Is it greed, ignorance or some god complex that's causing them to rush and eventually breakdown these animals.
lizzy More than 1 year ago
I like the sound of Archwarrior mentioned rather obscurely above - He'sout of Arch - Winner's Edge by Seeking the Gold. I think he was Hip212 at Keeneland 2011 - not sure which sale - but 375,000. Arch's pedigree -male side- Kris S. - Roberto - Hail to Reason - Princequillo. Dam side Aurora!! - Danzig- Northern Dancer - Alydar. Arch's son that could never prove himself due to jockey and trainer error - ArchArchArch - Arch -Courtly Dee - won the Ark Derby and got all messed up in the KY Derby - as I stated above -weird jocky error and, well, he broke his cannon bone. He's at stud at Spendthrift Farm. John Velasquez worked Archwarrior this a.m. - i think his first work after collar bone injury. But if he rides Archwarrior in whatever race Pletcher decides to run him in - look out! He may be a force to reckon with.
Morris More than 1 year ago
if it is all so bad, as you keep saying it is. why do you watch. why not take up gardening or golf. or hog calling, mite be interesting to some of you who just continue to rave about how bad racing is.. hog calling fits your personality, is easier listening than your bitching about racing. i hope you have a nice day, " an ole railbird"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great philosophy. So since crime is so bad, we should all just stop watching the news ? You're obviously missing the point for the ranting and raving because you have no concern for the welfare of the animal. Maybe you should take your own advice. If you're so annoyed with listening to people complain, stop reading !!
Ultimatehorselover More than 1 year ago
Another thing; none of the stakes/graded races during the Del Mar meets matter towards the Kentucky Derby, which is what I would imagine trainers like Baffert, Pletcher, and O'Neill are trying to evetually reach for wit their two year olds (suprisingly, O'Neill has not entered many 2 year olds so far). To me, the summer Del Mar meet is almost like a "filler", per se; the races are there to add to the bankroll, and not really count towards anything.
mrm More than 1 year ago
The fact is that this is an expensive game to play.If they are ready to run 5/8 as a 2yo then it make sense to run. They can get hurt just as easily training.
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
Question is, what goes into getting them ready to run the fastest 5 furlongs of their lives? When the Feds take over the show, we'll see how 'ready to run' they will be. I hope these 2yo's in training circuses are the first things to go.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
It is an expensive game to play. Understood. Completely. But wouldn't it be benificial to protect and nurture an investment that yields a quick return. After all aren't we all looking for longevity in our bloodlines and investments. What good is it to win a few as a two year old? The breeding market is inundated with these exact types.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't it be nice to see a few of these trainers who have so many top owners and well bred horses start a positive trend for this industry? How about when a colt or filly wins at first asking or even second they give the horse some time.. say a few months... to mentally and physically mature. Where's the damage in that. Their clients are obviously wealthy enough to do this and it may prolong careers and bring about a stronger base in our breeding. It takes so much out of any horse to win at first asking even older accomplished veterans. So why keep pushing these juveniles. It seems like a common trend to get an early developed racehorse into a stakes race to get them "black-typed" for breeding incentives whether it is in the animals best interests or not. So why can't these people who have so much influence on this industry and it's future realize this fact and try to do what's right for future generations. Both equine and human alike.
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
$$$$$$ !!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah...that came out right ! Anyway,... you get the point !
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
After seeing so many injuries happening to the three year old horses, as well as to the older horses, it's kind of hard for me to get excited right now about two year olds going into the pipeline to run for next year's Triple Crown and Oaks races. The horses that do spectacularly well at age 2 are not necessarily the horses that do spectacularly well at ages 3, 4 or 5. In fact, in recent years the opposite seems to be the rule. Last year I saw a two year old who sparked my imagination enough to follow him throughout his races at ages 2 and 3, his name is I'll Have Another. Impressed me with his very first race, in fact, he impressed me in his first post parade. Hopefully, I will see a few 2 year old horses in their post parades who will impress me enough to follow them as well. I'm going to keep an open mind about that, maybe these new little wonders with lots of talent and character (which is much more important to have, to me, than having just speed in your arsenal of weapons) will bring back my enthusiasm in watching 2 year olds race this year. I certainly hope so!
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
do you own horses Joy? you seem to know so much about NTRA.
Roy Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
Ultimatehorselover More than 1 year ago
The funny thing is that we will never hear about most of these 2 YR olds again. The trainers can say all they want about how "fantastic" their 2 YR olds look. Until the horses actually run at classic distances (1 1/4) and win, then talk is simply talk. And in todays industry, it seems that running your maidens and 2 YR olds into the ground is the big thing now. I will admit, there is a 2 yr. old that I am actively following (Know More- Sire; Lion Heart, Dam; Seattle Qui). And yet, even he could turn out to be a bust. But then again, who really knows?
Kimberly More than 1 year ago
Let's hope many of these youngsters are still around a year from now.