Hoosier Park is beginning to make some serious noise for the quality of 2-year-olds on the grounds. When one thinks of talented 2-year-olds, one doesn't generally think of Hoosier Park as a place that's brimming with them. But the times they are a-changin'. Purses in Indiana are on the rise, and trainers and owners are recognizing Indiana as a great place to debut their juveniles.
This week, I'll be spotlighting two promsing colts whose Hoosier Park debuts were quite impressive.
This colt has an amazing story behind him. His dam is Maggie Slew
-- who was the last foal to race by the great Seattle Slew. Maggie Slew was bred, owned, and raced by Indiana breeding giant Swifty Farms. She was named Indiana bred 3-year-old champion filly, and Indiana bred Horse of the Year in 2006. She only started twice in the Hoosier state -- turning in disappointing performances in both the grade III Indiana Oaks and the ingraded Merrillville Stakes. Maggie Slew saved her best showings for the big stage, having won 3 times under the twin spires of Churchill Downs.
But Mack The Slew's royal breeding runs deeper then his dam and his dams sire. He is the son of Pass Rush
-- one of the most successful Indiana Breds to ever race. The “Rush,” like Maggie Slew, was also bred by Swifty Farms. He was eventually sold to prominent owner Michael Tabor.
Pass Rush is best known for winning the grade II San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita. He also ran 2nd to Aldebaran in the grade II Churchill Downs Handicap. Pass Rush ended his career with nearly $600,000 in earnings. He was also named Indiana Bred Horse of the Year.
Mack The Slew was definitely bred for greatness, and he was brilliant in his first start. Mack made his debut in an Indiana bred, Maiden Special Weight event at the distance of 5 furlongs. He broke in a tangle, which caused him to be last after the first call. Mack made three different moves during the race. He first moved from the back of the pack to mid-pack down the back stretch. Then he moved into contention at the quarter pole, still some 4 lengths off the lead. Finally, Mack found his best stride deep in the stretch, showing off an impressive turn of foot. Mack went from 4th to 1st in a matter of a few strides. He cruised in the last hundred yards to win by 2 ½ lengths.
Mack's conditioner Tom Proctor has to be ecstatic about how professional his young colt looked in his first start. The Hillsdale Stakes on September 10th would seem to be a logical spot for Proctor's young star.
In the past five years of watching racing in Indiana, I have never witnessed a debut by a 2-year-old that was as impressive as the one turned in by Alumni -- a Kentucky bred son of the precocious First Samurai. The grade I Hopeful Stakes and the grade I Champagne Stakes were among the prestigious races that First Samurai captured in his outstanding juvenile campaign. His only defeat as a 2-year-old came in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile -- where he finished 3rd. First Samurai went on to win the Fountain of Youth stakes as a 3 year old.
Alumni's dam is Exogenetic, a daughter of the great Unbridled Song.
Going back even further, Alumni has a regal pedigree. He's a half to Elusive Horizon, who won 8 of her 14 starts, and has career earnings exceeding $240,000. Elusive Horizon won several stakes at Emerald Downs including; the Washington Oaks and the Emerald Downs Distaff Handicap.
Alumni is bred to have speed, and boy did he show it in his first start. The Brett Calhoun trainee dominated a field of maidens from the get go. Quickly breaking for the early lead, Alumni set solid early fractions of 22.0 and 46.4, on his way to a dominating 6 length victory. Alumni equaled the track record of 56.80 for the 5 furlong distance, an impressive feat for a 2-year-old first time starter.
After Alumni's dominating performance, Calhoun has several options, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a first level allowance at Keeneland. Being a grandson of Giant's Causeway, Alumni should relish the all weather surface.
The potential of these two colts is limitless, as is the future of Indiana racing. It's time you started paying attention to both.