He may not be flashy, he may not be brilliant, but Liaison
always gets the job done. The son of Indian Charlie was going for his third win
in a row, in last night’s CashCall Futurity, and his first grade one. Last seen
winning the Real Quiet Stakes by a measured half a length, there was no
question that the jump from ungraded to grade one stakes competition would pose a big obstacle for the colt. Baffert however, was confident enough to take on
the challenge and when he shows that type of confidence in one of his
charges you know that they are good.
Liaison broke from the gate and settled in fifth on the
inside. He looked comfortable through a
solid pace set by Drill and Handsome Mike. Rounding the far turn it was clear
that Liaison had plenty of run, but had no room to use it. He did not get rank,
instead he remained cool and professional, and as they turned into the stretch,
Liaison jumped at it.
He surged past Brother Francis to lead by just over a length,
content to hold that advantage over his opponent. But, things were far from
over as Rousing Sermon, his friend from the Real Quiet, came charging gamely on
the outside. Liaison, again, sensed the other horse and had plenty in reserve,
holding off the charge by a measured neck.
The race while not visually stunning was nothing short of
solid. The son of Indian Charlie may get criticism from many, claiming he
cannot possibly get the 10 furlong trip of the Kentucky Derby. His sire is
known for siring sprinters and milers, with only grade one winning classic
distance performer to his credit. However, sire only contributes half the
genetics, so I caution those who point fingers to his sire to disprove his
distance abilities to look at his dam, a daughter of Victory Gallop. For those
of you who don’t know or have forgotten, he won the Belmont Stakes, Whitney,
and Stephan Foster, while running second in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness,
Haskell, and Travers. That is a major stamina influence, major enough it may counteract
Indian Charlie’s speed influence.
Another thing to like about this colt is his
professionalism. He was down running on the inside, horses in front of him, in
back of him and to his outside. Most young horses would get claustrophobic and
become rank. He remained cool and calm, and when a hole opened up he went for
it, no hesitation. That is what you want to see in a young horse. You want a
horse that can run in traffic, that won’t get too bullish or intimidated. That
will be very useful when he is surrounded by 19 other horses, in a cavalry
charge to the first turn.
One also has to remember that typically Indian Charlie’s
have tons of speed, and are always on or very close to the pace. This horse has
shown he has the ability to sit back, but also stay close enough to get enough
of a jump on other closers. Just watch the Real Quiet and CashCall and see how
he was able to hold of Rousing Sermon, who was much farther back. That ability
gives him a huge tactical advantage.
Lastly, anyone who wants to question his ability on dirt
should look no farther than his maiden victory over Santa Anita DIRT. He is
bred to relish the dirt, he is bred to relish the distance. He may not be the
most visually impressive, but neither was Real Quiet, Silver Charm, or Lookin
At Lucky, some of Baffert’s horses that went on to be the best of their
generation. Don’t make the mistake of counting this colt out.