07/26/2006 11:00PM

Success comes fast for several freshman sires

Trainer Todd Pletcher is winning big with juveniles once again. On July 13, Air Lord became his latest 2-year-old winner when he won his career debut at Belmont.

Graeme Hall is one of this year's freshman sires, and he is getting winners early, as expected. Graeme Hall (by Dehere) had abundant speed, which he demonstrated in his victories in the Arkansas Derby and Jim Dandy Stakes. He was also second in six stakes, including the Cigar Mile. He is out of the marvelous producer Win Crafty Lady, the dam of stakes winners Harmony Lodge, Win's Fair Lady, and Win McCool. Graeme Hall's dam is a half-sister to the stakes-winning sprinter and miler Diligence. On July 11, Bournes Land, a 2-year-old gelding by Graeme Hall out of the Commemorate mare Feel the Pride, became the latest winner for Graeme Hall when he won a $50,000 maiden claiming race in wire-to-wire fashion, showing the speed of his sire. Graeme Hall has four winners from 10 starters.

* Thunderello (Montbrook), another first-crop sire, is also off to a fast start at stud. A very quick stakes-winning sprinter who finished second to Orientate in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Thunderello was expected to get precocious foals, and they are winning sprints with their speed. On July 14, Talkin Thunder, out of the Miswaki mare Ms. Waki Talkin, showed speed to win a 5 1/2-furlong starter allowance at 6-1. Talkin Thunder won his previous start on June 27. The Thunderellos should have success from five furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Thunderello has three winners from eight starters.

* Another freshman sire, 2000 Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet (Unbridled), got his first winner on July 15, when Princess Nikki won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race in her career debut. Princess Nikki is out of the Play Fellow mare Western Cowgirl. She should enjoy stretching out to distances over one mile. While it is still early, it appears that Unbridled will be a major sire of sires, led by Unbridled's Song, Grindstone, and Broken Vow. Many sons of Unbridled are too young to have foals, such as Unshaded, Saarland, Eddington, and Empire Maker. Empire Maker may eclipse all of Unbridled's sons at stud, since he has been bred to the creme de la creme of broodmares.


Air Lord became the latest 2-year-old winner for Todd Pletcher, who has so many juveniles that he could fill many barns at Belmont with his young stock. Air Lord won a five-furlong maiden race on July 13 in his career debut and defeated some well-regarded colts. By Stormin Fever and out of the Sunny North mare Sunny Mimosa, Air Lord is a half-brother to multiple-stakes-winning sprinter Delaware Township. Finishing second was Maxey Boy, another first-time starter who was installed the 8-5 favorite. Maxey Boy is by Forestry and is a half-brother to stakes winner Rockport Harbor.

* The most impressive 2-year-old filly maiden winner in the country is Magical Ride, who won a five-furlong maiden race in her career debut by four lengths in a quick 57.13 seconds. A strapping dark bay filly, Magical Ride is by Storm Cat out of Test Stakes winner Victory Ride (Seeking the Gold). Breaking like a bullet from the outside post in the eight-filly field, she set fractions of 22.18 and 44.87 before drawing off in a hand ride. Trainer Rusty Arnold has a bona fide stakes filly headed for Saratoga.


Storm Cat is known primarily for imparting speed to his offspring, but two of his major runners had stamina: the deceased Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Cat Thief. Cat Thief's foals are getting better as they mature, on dirt and turf, at distances over one mile, but on July 15, Five Star Thief, a 3-year-old first-time starter owned by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust, rallied from last in an 11-horse field to win a six-furlong maiden race by two lengths. Trained by Wally Dollase, Five Star Thief paid $11. Showing a quick turn of foot sprinting, Five Star Thief should be even better as he stretches out in distance.

* Freshman sires are making noise across the country. On July 16, Bold Start, a 2-year-old colt from the first crop of Jump Start, won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at 10-1. Jump Start was a precocious A.P. Indy who won the Saratoga Special and finished second to Officer in the Champagne Stakes. Well-regarded in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he suffered a career-ending injury in that race and was retired. Out of stakes-placed Steady Cat (a full sister to stakes winner Apollo Cat), Jump Start's second dam is a full sister to Miswaki.

* Chester House, a stakes-winning son of Mr. Prospector out of the blue-hen mare Toussaud, died way too young, and based on the small sample of his few crops, his loss is a major blow to racing. On July 16, Chester House had back-to-back winners: Deep Canyon, a 3-year-old colt out of the Strawberry Road mare Strawberry Lady, won a seven-furlong allowance at 14-1, followed by Take the Ribbons's four-length victory in the Heavenly Cause Handicap. Take the Ribbon is out of the Miswaki mare Magical Flash, from the exceptional female family that produced Magical Maiden.


While it was just a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on a Wednesday, the victory by first-time starter Sweet Way had special significance. By Giant's Causeway and out of the Kris S. mare Sweet Life, Sweet Way is a 3-year-old three-quarter sister to 2-year-old filly champion Sweet Catomine (Storm Cat). Winning a maiden debut at longer than six furlongs is never easy, but Sweet Way's trainer, John Shirreffs, is a master horseman, and Sweet Way rallied from last in the seven-horse field to win by two lengths, paying $6.60.