Top 2-year-olds: Here are 5 who are worth watching

Top 2-year-olds: Here are 5 who are worth watching
Photo: Jenny Doyle / Eclipse Sportswire

HRN launches 2023 Kentucky Derby, Oaks contender rankings

With pre-eminent summer racing just around the corner at Saratoga, Del Mar and Ellis Park, talented 2-year-olds will take their first steps toward races such as the Breeders' Cup and next year's Triple Crown series.

The precocious types already have a start or two under their girths. Even more talented juveniles are on the way, and they are sure to hit Horse Racing Nation's newly launched list of Kentucky Derby 2023 contenders and Kentucky Oaks 2023 contenders.

HRN offers the ever-expanding wiki of Thoroughbred racehorses, with the Derby list a product of user ratings for 2-year-old male horses. If the list is missing prospects you're watching, you can add those horses, rate them and watch them climb the ladder. Then, it's up to the community to determine whether they stay. Click here for more on HRN's Power Rankings and voting.

At launch, the Derby and Oaks rankings include more than 100 maidens and stakes-placed 2-year-olds from major circuits such as Keeneland, Belmont Park and Santa Anita. We'll have to wait and see whether the youngsters will evolve into top-class sprinters or something more as they are asked to stretch out.

Five babies to watch

This summer, we'll be introduced to the highly anticipated offspring of the first-crop sires.

They include Triple Crown champ Justify, 2017 2-year-old champ Good Magic, 3-year-old champ West Coast, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf hero Mendelssohn, Pegasus World Cup Invitational hero City of Light and many more.

Here's a quick look at five babies to watch.

Gulfport (Uncle Mo - Fame and Fortune, by Unbridled's Song)

Auction: $275,000 Fasig-Tipton Keeneland select yearling sale

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Gulfport kicked off his racing career with a seven-length victory over maidens at Churchill in June. He followed up with a dominating 12 1/4-length romp in the six-furlong Bashford Manor Stakes, stopping the clock in 1:09.25. Gulfport's time is second only to the stakes record of 1:09.15 set by Asmussen-trained Kodiak Kowboy, who evolved into a champion sprinter.

Pedigree: Gulfport's half-sister Favor is Grade 2 stakes-placed. Their dam's full brother is Whitney Invitational (G1) winner Cross Traffic. Gulfport's second dam is multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Stop Traffic.

Wonder Wheel (Into Mischief - Wonder Gal, by Tiz Wonderful)

Auction: $275,000 Keeneland September yearling sale

Trainer: Mark Casse

Wonder Wheel captured her debut at Churchill by 2 1/4 lengths. The filly returned in the Debutante Stakes and powered home 6 3/4 lengths in front, finishing six furlongs in 1:10.26.

Pedigree: Wonder Wheel is the first black-type earner out of the steady multiple stakes winner Wonder Gal, who placed in four Grade 1 events, including the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Statuette (Justify - Immortal Verse (IRE), by Pivotal (GB))

Auction: None

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Justify's daughter Statuette gritted out a three-quarter length victory in the six-furlong Airlie Stud Stakes (G2) over Ireland's Curragh soft course. The chestnut filly, who is 16 2 1/2 hands high and powerfully built, pinned her ears and flattened her body in the stretch, reminiscent of her sire's Preakness victory. Is it too soon to talk Breeders' Cup?

Pedigree: Statuette is a half-sister to the Group 1-winning juvenile Tenebrism (Caravaggio) and out of the multiple Group 1-winning miler Immortal Verse. She hails from the family of champion sprinter and Breeders' Cup Mile hero Last Tycoon.

Summer Promise (Uncle Mo - Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)

Auction: $500,000 Keeneland September yearling sale

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Wayne Lukas always had a way with the fillies, and the aptly named Summer Promise could be his next sensation. The youngster shined in her five-furlong debut at Churchill, drawing away from her rivals by five lengths in 57.98 seconds. Then, she returned to fire a four-furlong 46.00-second bullet on July 3.

Pedigree: Summer Promise is out of the Grade 1-winning blue hen Dream of Summer, whose offspring include Grade 1 winner and sire Creative Cause (Giant's Causeway) and his full siblings, Grade 1 heroine Vexatious, a graded winner on dirt and turf, and Tampa Bay Derby hero and Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin.

Justique (Justify - Grazie Mille, by Bernardini)

Auction: $725,000 Keeneland September yearling sale

Trainer: John Sherrifs

Justique has been training steadily towards a possible Del Mar debut. The leggy filly outperforms her pricy workmates, Anacortes (Uncle Mo), a half-sister to two graded black-type earners, and Monique (Union Rags), a half-sister to a multiple graded placed runner.

Pedigree: Justify's daughter is a half-sister to Remsen Stakes (G2) and Hollywood Derby (G1) hero Mo Town (Uncle Mo). The young stallion's first crop is competing this year.

HRN launches Kentucky Derby, Oaks contender rankings

With pre-eminent summer racing just around the corner at Saratoga, Del Mar and Ellis Park, talented 2-year-olds will take their first steps toward races such as the Breeders' Cup and next year's Triple Crown series.

The precocious types already have a start or two under their girths. Even more talented juveniles are on the way, and they are sure to hit Horse Racing Nation's newly launched list of Kentucky Derby 2023 contenders and Kentucky Oaks 2023 contenders.

HRN offers the ever-expanding wiki of Thoroughbred racehorses, with the Derby list a product of user ratings for 2-year-old male horses. If the list is missing prospects you're watching, you can add those horses, rate them and watch them climb the ladder. Then, it's up to the community to determine whether they stay. Click here for more on HRN's Power Rankings and voting.

At launch, the Derby and Oaks rankings include more than 100 maidens and stakes-placed 2-year-olds from major circuits such as Keeneland, Belmont Park and Santa Anita. We'll have to wait and see whether the youngsters will evolve into top-class sprinters or something more as they are asked to stretch out.



Meet Laurie Ross


 HRN Pedigree Analyst 

 Handicapper 

 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB


Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 


I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
Facebook: IMTBreds
LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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