Photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA
One does it from off pace, while the other sprints right out to the early lead, but either way they choose to get it done, you have to recognize Summer Front and Silver Max are two impressive young turf horses. Neither has lost on the turf this year, and their respective races this past week were as impressive as could be. First it was Silver Max on Wednesday at Indiana Downs. Breaking from the gate as if his horseshoes were on fire, the bay son of Badge of Silver quickly took total command in the one-mile Oliver Stakes. Ridden like he was the much the best horse, by Victor Lebron, the heavy favorite was left to do his thing through splits of :23 4/5, :47 and 1:10 3/5, before being set down in the stretch to romp home by an easy-as-you-please margin of 6 ¾ lengths, leaving a pair of solid sophomores, in Cozzetti and Travel Advisory, to battle it out for the secondary award. The final time of 1:33.88 easily lowered the course record at the Suburban Indianapolis oval. Trained by Dale Romans, the speedy colt finished second in each of three turf races as a juvenile, but now has reeled off five consecutive wins on the lawn, including four straight impressive stakes scores. Then yesterday, it was Summer Front’s turn to turn more than a few heads in Belmont Park’s Hill Prince Stakes. Making his return to the turf after a pair of losses on other surfaces in the Lexington and Peter Pan, the son of War Front broke from the rail and was pinned along the hedge for most of the race. With nothing to do but wait behind horses, Ramon Dominguez bided his time as the classy Howe Great made a move for the lead. Finally given some room to operate in mid-stretch, Summer Front accelerated like a luxury sedan as his rider angled him to the outside. From there, he waltzed to the wire as Dominguez confidently hand rode the favorite to a half-length victory over Howe Great. Forget about the margin of victory though, as his explosive turn of foot, after finally getting free, was a sight to see. Much like Silver Max, the final time for the flat mile was a sharp, 1:33.74, as the Christophe Clement trainee raised his record on the lawn to a perfect 4 for 4. There you have it, one week, and two eye-catching performances for a pair of colts that are a collective 7 for 7 in turf stakes. Their grass potential would seem to be limited only by the imagination, but there are still questions to answer. To date, both colts have done their best running in middle distances, but if they are going to excel in the biggest races for sophomore turf horses, like the Virginia Derby and Secretariat Stakes, they will need to prove that they can carry their respective talents over the classic distance of a mile-and-a-quarter. I can’t wait to see how both colts fair at the longer distances, and better yet, battle it out against each other.
Now I ask you … Silver Max or Summer Front, which young turf star do you prefer?
Photos courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA (Summer Front)
and Four Footed Fotos (Silver Max.)