Their work for the year is done. Royal Delta and Shackleford respectively have proven themselves as two of the top thoroughbreds in America for 2011 through excellent year-long campaigns that culminated with solid performances at the Breeders’ Cup. Now it’s time for their little brothers to step up and take the turkey by the tail feathers.
This afternoon at Hollywood Park, Royal Delta’s full brother, Empire Way, will attempt to graduate quickly from maiden winner to graded stakes winner. Sent off at 5-2 just eleven days ago in a Hollywood maiden race, the much talked about youngster was content to drop back early, and was still in last through a half mile in :46.61. Swung wide turning for home, the dark bay inhaled the field, including a game Holy Candy, to win by a measured half length. Making the initial outing all the more impressive was the way the Heinz Steinmann owned, and Mike Harrington trained youngster was ridden, as Joel Rosario never lifted his whip in route to the victory. The $250,000 February purchase covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.93. Today’s Hollywood Prevue Stakes is certainly a step up, but it may be just a small step to bigger and better things for the regally bred, Empire Way. Expect him to vie for favoritism with the Bob Baffert trained speedster, So Brilliant.
Meanwhile, two days later, and 3,000 miles east, it will be Shackleford’s little brother, Stephanoatsee, who makes an ever bigger jump up from maiden company. The son of A.P. Indy is one of ten juveniles entered in the nine furlong, Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. After being left hopelessly behind early in his September debut, Shack’s half-brother has done nothing but impress. In that first race, a mile maiden affair at Laurel, Stephanoatsee made up gobs of ground to be a fast finishing second by a half-length. He came back in another mile maiden at Laurel in October, and won going away after stumbling at the start. Trained by Kentucky Derby winning trainer, Graham Motion, he will now try to bring his game to the bright lights of New York. In a field devoid of any proven stars, Stephanoatsee appears to have as good as shot as any to take down the winner’s share of the $200,000 purse.
If you are a fan of Shackleford, and you loved what you saw from Royal Delta, then you better be on the lookout this holiday weekend for a couple of young colts who hope to do their older siblings proud. Good luck to them and Happy Thanksgiving to all!