2013 Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win & You’re In’ Series has begun. While
Cleburne became a leading contender in the East, the front runner out west will
be determined this weekend.
Photo: Benoit Photos
the first of four automatic qualifier races Cleburne was game enough to hold
off his eager stablemate, Smart Cover, by a neck in the Iroquois Stakes
at Churchill Downs. Dale Romans and Donegal Racing teamed up for the brilliant
1-2 finish and have put themselves in a beautiful position leading up to the
the Breeders’ Cup will be a Santa Anita again this fall. Therefore, a smooth
and powerful win on Saturday can lead to a lot of buzz surrounding the home
track advantage. Much has to be done to
earn it, yet the field in this year’s addition of the FrontRunner Stakes has me
thinking that a live favorite for the Juvenile could emerge.
best way to break things down this early in the Juvenile season is to begin
with the freshman that have already seen what Graded Stakes racing is all
about. In particular, let’s look at the top 3 finishers of the G1 Del Mar
up, is the winner, and that belongs to Tamarando, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams. Closing from far back is never
an easy feat over a speed favoring track but this California bred accomplished
it in impressive fashion. The best way for me to describe it: all business. What
awed me the most was his approach to weaving 4 wide around the final turn
before barreling down the center of the track to win by a ½ length.
I also tip my cap to Tamarando because I believe the Del Mar Futurity field was
stacked with quality 2-yr-olds and potential Juvenile contenders. What strikes me
about the field is that 5 of the 6 horses from a solid G2 Best Pal Stakes didn’t
finish in the top 3. Raced just one month before, all but the fourth place finisher
Ontology were back.
mention this because in my opinion the winner Albert’s
Hope and runner up Celtic Moon came into the futurity with a good chance of
winning. But, it wasn’t their day the second time around. However, I don’t hold it against them as much as I give
credit to the horses that outperformed them. Therefore, not only do I give
Tamarando a good chance of winning in the FrontRunner, I also think 2nd
place finisher Dance with Fate and 3rd place finisher Can the Man
deserve a very good look here as well.
that is even without any of them ever racing on dirt prior to this Saturday. I
think all of them will handle it well enough to be in position and it will not
be an issue. As for another horse already mentioned, I’m not sure if the
surface of the future has been decided yet.
will be the only Best Pal starter entering the FrontRunner Stakes. But, he’s
also the only entry that has raced on Turf. Even though he did not enter the Del Mar Futurity he was still
racing that day. Instead, it was the non graded Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes where
he finished 2nd. So, what does that say for
Trainer Simon Callaghan and his expectations with Ontology? My assumption is
that his expectations are high but the surface he races on most often later in
his career is still a work (or decision) in progress. My guess; it won’t be
for the final horse that’s getting a pretty look from me we turn to
Roundupthelute. Maybe it's just me but any horse that carries a jockey wearing the familiar Mike
Pegram silks means it’s safe to assume that his team may have something in their
barn. Based on his pedigree alone this horse has to be considered. Question is;
will the son of the 2 time BC Sprint winner Midnight Lute be able to race well
at a distance of 1 1/16? Or, will he be like his daddy and suited for distances closer to 6 furlongs. Maybe, maybe not but I’m still going to give him
finally, there’s the Bob Baffert factor. Roundupthelute and Can the Man are
both his and they give the hall of fame trainer a chance to win this race again.
From the time when he won his first in 1997 the number has since ballooned to
six. It’s hard to believe but he’s never won this stakes race in back to back
years. Since he scored it last year with Power Broker, 2013 will give him
another chance to repeat and extend his record to 7 FrontRunner wins.