Photo: Lou Hodges, Jr. Photograhphy
After giving the highly regarded Coup de Grace everything he wanted in their respective career debuts on November 9 at Aqueduct, I had been looking forward to race number two for Unknown Road. Today, the wait ended in high style, as the dark bay blitzed a field of maidens at Fair Grounds by 11 ¾ lengths.
When last seen in New York, Unknown Road, owned by Dennis Narlinger's JMJ Racing Stable, was running for the Michael Hushion barn, but this time in New Orleans, he raced for Louisiana native, Al Stall, Jr. His new trainer had to be pleased with what he saw.
The lukewarm 17-10 favorite quickly took the lead and controlled the early pace from the rail. Ripping through a quarter of :22.20 and a half in :46.49, Unknown Road and rider Shaun Bridgmohan waited for a challenge to come on the far turn. As a couple in the field of seven made a move to get close, Bridgemohan gave his charge a nudge, and the race was as good as over.
Opening up with every stride down the long stretch, Unknown Road cruised impressively to the wire. Final time for the six furlongs on the fast track was a solid 1:10.91. Third choice, Glacken Too nosed out Jesse James for second money. Not only did Unknown Road flash serious talent today on the Fair Grounds main track, but he also sports the bloodlines of a good one.
His sire is the outstanding young sire, Bernardini. We all remember his six race winning streak which included the Preakness, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Club, that carried the son of A.P. Indy to being named the three-year-old male champion of 2006.
On the female side, Unnkown Road also has a lot going for him. Out of the 1992 Arlington Washington Lassie runner up, and Known Fact mare, Banshee Winds, today’s romping winner is a half-brother to Banshee Breeze. A winner of eight graded stakes, Banshee Breeze was twice runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, as well as the champion three-year-old filly of 1998.
His reserve price of $335,000 may not have been attained as a yearling at Keeneland September Sale, but now that price seems like a bargain. In my opinion, today’s win is on a short list of the most impressive maiden wins by any two-year-old this year. Go ahead and add the name Unknown Road to an ever-growing list of promising juveniles to join the 2014 Kentucky Derby trail.