On "First Time Turf” I will not only analyze some of
the principal grass stakes races each week, but I will also take a look at some
two-year olds that are just beginning their racing careers. Two-year old maiden
special weight events with a number of debut turf runners are some of my favorite
races to analyze and wager on because of the number of different angles they
offer a handicapper. Whether it is pedigree
evaluation, analysis of trainer statistics or a review of workout reports,
there are a number of clever ways to find value or find vulnerable favorites in
The first race on July 10th’s Belmont Park card
is one of these such maiden special weight races and has me looking forward to
1:20 Eastern time on Thursday. The
seven-horse field has only one horse with racing experience and that is long
shot Nicky’s Brown Miss for low profile owner/trainer Savino Capilupi. This Big Brown filly has run twice over Monmouth Park’s main track and has beaten a
total of two horses. A reversal of form is not expected with the change in
Of the more logical contenders, top trainer Todd Pletcher
sends out two for Thursday’s first race. Ironically, both runners are by former star three-year old, and young sire, Eskendereya.
Eskendereya, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was dominant early in 2010 and
appeared set to the be the favorite for that year’s “Run for the Roses,” however
fate was not on his side. After an eight
an a half length victory in the Fountain of Youth and a nearly ten-length victory
in the Wood Memorial, the Zayat Stable owned colt seemed destined for a Triple
Crown run, but unfortunately the fragility of the equine athlete took
precedence. On April 25th,
2010 it was announced that Eskendereya had sustained a major leg injury. He never ran again.
While the freakishly talented runner was forced to retire
from racing in the spring of 2010, he was able to survive and start a career as
a stallion. Eskendereya’s first crop of
two-year old runners has started to emerge the last few months of 2014, but
have yet to provide a first time victor in five tries. Thursday’s first race at Belmont Park will
offer two young fillies the opportunity to be the first debut winner out of the
Giant’s Causeway colt, but I wonder if either entrant is amongst the top tier
Pletcher two-year olds.
Eskenformoney is the 5-2-morning line favorite for the all
women partnership group, Starladies Racing.
This filly is out of a lightly raced Not For Love mare named But for
Money who earned a bit over $43,000 in six career starts as a three-year
old. Although I always respect Todd
Pletcher runners that draw John Velazquez in their debut, I think there are
better wagering options then this potentially short priced favorite. Not only is Pletcher only 13% with his debut
turf runners, but neither side of this filly’s bloodlines have yet to produce a
first-time winner. Additionally,
Pletcher has already shifted his tact to Saratoga for the summer so it is safe
to assume that his best two-year olds are being targeted for the baby races
upstate in a few weeks. I prefer others.
The second of the two Eskendereya/Pletcher runners is a
Siena Farms filly named Isabella Sings.
This young lady is out of a British bred daughter of Lomitas, Isobel
Baille and unlike the other Pletcher entrant this one has solid grass
pedigree. In fact, she is a half to
four-time winner over the turf, Alaura Michele.
I have seen some of Siena Farms runners succeed and expect this horse to
be effective, but I once again wonder how high on the massive Pletcher roster
this homebred filly is in talent if he is not saving her for the Spa. Joel Rosario gets the “leg up” and I prefer
this one to Eskenformoney, but she is not my top selection.
For our top choice I will look towards one of the kings of
two-year old debut runners, trainer Wesley Ward. Ward is a master at teaching his first time
starters to break well from the gate and I expect my top selection in Thursday’s
first race at Belmont Park, Heartofthetemple, to break running from the rail
and never look back. This daughter of
Temple City is not only conditioned by a great win early barn, but is bred
solid as well. Her father is out of the extremely productive Dynaformer family
and her dam has been useful as well including a similarly bred half sister
named Kinly’s Pure Heart that had a win and a second in two starts as a
two-year old in 2013. The presence of
the aggressive Paco Lopez, Monmouth Park’s leading jockey, further points to
this one being sent to the lead. I think
if Heartofthetemple can avoid a speed duel with one of the Pletcher runners or
non-coupled entry mate Cool Comfort it should be a wire-to-wire score in his
debut. Obviously, a clean break from the rail is key, but if we can count on
anyone to have his horse ready from the gate it is Wesley Ward. On Oaks Day for Rudy Rodriguez and Suruj Devi
for trainer Randi Persaud round out the seven-horse field.
WPS on #1 Heartofthetemple