Friday, December 27, 2013 could be looked back at as a day when a Kentucky Derby winner was discovered. Within a matter of a few hours, at three different tracks, a trio of promising juveniles all looked good while winning this afternoon. None of the victories came in stakes racing, but for Cool Samurai, Uncle Sigh, and Gold Hawk, it should not be long before they get their chance to see what they can do against top competition. Let’s take a look at how the day unfolded for the three...
2:45 pm Eastern - First came the 6th race at Aqueduct, and Uncle Sigh. After running a bangup second in his career debut, the word was out on this bay son of Indian Charlie, out of the Pine Bluff mare, Cradlesong. The figures had come back big from that race, in which he lost a stretch duel to Groupthink by a head, but finished 10 lengths clear of the third horse. Stretching out to a mile and 70 yards today for the maiden special weight, the Gary Contessa charge stalked early, and then shot to the lead on the far turn, as the 1-2 favorite in the field of eight. Demonstrating his superiority with every stride, the $270,000 yearling purchase of Wounded Warrior Stables, continued to pour it on down the lane, before hitting the Big A wire more than 14 lengths clear of second place finisher, Pax in Terra. While his sire, Indian Charlie, is known for passing on speed to his offspring, Uncle Sigh does have more of a stamina influence on his female side, and is a half-brother to Percussion, who finished second in the 12 furlong Brooklyn this year.
1:33 pm Pacific - Much like Uncle Sigh, Cool Samurai was beaten in his career debut, but not without impressing. Checked at the start, the son of First Samurai, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare, Uzume, finished full of run to finish a good second to Wicked Strong. That performance was flattered when the winner came back to run an excellent third in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. Shipped cross country to Santa Anita with trainer, John Shirreffs, the chestnut gelding would wait no longer to become a winner. After breaking a tad slow, the leggy, Jerry and Ann Moss owned juvenile was content to sit near the back of the pack of the small field while the leaders set solid early fractions. When rider Mike Smith asked, Cool Samurai responded and began to cut into the lead on the far turn. Uncoiling a nice long stride on the outside, he continued to gain on the highly regarded The Admiral through the stretch, before finally edging in front to get to the wire a half-length in front. The final time for the 19-10 second choice in the one mile maiden special weight was 1:36.47. Much like a former Horse of the Year from the same connections, this gelding gives the indication that greater distance will not be a problem.
4:56 pm Central - Finally, in New Orleans, Gold Hawk took his turn in throwing his name onto a long list of juveniles hoping to make it to Louisville on the First Saturday in May. Unlike the first two, this one was already a winner, having scored smartly in his career debut going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs last month. Regally bred (Empire Maker-Caressing, by Honour and Glory), Gold Hawk was made a lukewarm 2-1 choice today in a one mile and 70 yards allowance/optional claimer at Fair Grounds. Content to sit in the middle of the pack through a decent early pace, the Steve Asmussen charge moved towards the outside on the far turn, and despite some bumping, and a fair amount of greenness, proved well too much to handle for this field. A 3 ½ length winner today, look for Gold Hawk to graduate into stakes company in his very next start. A product of the union between a Belmont winner and a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champ, this one truly could be any kind.