Head to Head: Meet the field for the 2023 Del Mar Futurity

Head to Head: Meet the field for the 2023 Del Mar Futurity
Photo: Del Mar / Benoit Photo

Seven 2-year-old colts line up to contest the $300,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on the closing day of the summer meet.

Bob Baffert won the last two editions with Pinehurst and Cave Rock. He has an excellent chance of completing the hat trick with the favorite Best Pal (G2) hero Prince of Monaco. Baffert holds the Futurity record for most wins with 16, including a seven-win streak in the late 1990’s.

The seven-furlong event is featured as race 10 of 11, with a 9:09 p.m. EDT post time.

Ashley Tamulonis of Coast to Coast and I both like the favorite, but have differing opinions on the rest of the field.



1.  Prince of Monaco (2-5)

There’s not much that needs to be said here. Prince of Monaco towers over this field in every way. The pricey purchase is undefeated in two career starts, including easily dispatching well-regarded stablemate Muth last out in the Best Pal (G3). His Equibase speed figure jumped from a 93 in his debut to a field-best 102 last out. Flavien Prat retains the mount for trainer Bob Baffert. The one to beat.


I absolutely love this colt. I picked him on top in the Best Pal (G2) because of his pedigree filled with winners, talent, and ability to overcome trouble and relax. Prince of Monaco tuned up for the Futurity with a five-furlong move in 59.4 seconds in company with the older Sham (G3) and recent Los Alamitos Derby hero Reincarnate. The pair moved as a team, not being asked, both relaxed with ears up and twitching. They altered course to avoid a horse on their inside, which put Prince of Monaco between horses. He pinned his ears while passing and galloped out strongly. That was the first time I’ve seen him fight, and it’s good to know he has that in him and was eager to pass. I agree with Ashley; Prince of Monaco rules over this field.


2.  Valiant Knight (50-1)

Valiant Knight is the seasoned veteran of the field with a whopping six starts under his girth. The son of Uncle Mo has raced exclusively in Wyoming, where he’s posted exceptionally low Equibase speed figures of 31, 25, 32, 42, 30, and 32. In those starts, the colt has put together a 6: 3-1-1 record. Previously with Calli VanTassell Dominguez, Valiant Knight will be making his first start for trainer Adan Farias, who has not had a thoroughbred stakes starter of any caliber. Farias’s stable was disbanded in 2011 after drug infractions. Farias himself was arrested in 2013 in connection with a widespread investigation into Mexican drug cartels laundering money in quarter horse racing. All in all, not a good look here. Pass.


Ashley gave us the low down on Valiant Knight’s performances and connections. Also shady is that the past performances show no recorded works since May. This means they’ve either not breezed the horse or have been breezing him at a private facility and not recording the works, which is a no-no. Surprisingly, Valiant Knight has a pretty good pedigree. By Uncle Mo, he’s out of an unraced daughter of Bernadini, who is a half to the Grade 3-winning producer First Passage. That one bore a Grade 3 winner. Another half-sister bore Del Mar Futurity hero Pinehurst. The third generation of this family includes Grade 1 winners Harmony Lodge and Arkansas Derby hero Magnum Moon. Despite all this, I’m passing on Valiant Knight.


3.  Mirahmadi (8-1)

The “other” Baffert horse, Mirahmadi, enters still a maiden, his best placing a second-place effort in his debut in the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity. He was fourth beaten three lengths by winner Raging Torrent in his second start. He most recently crossed the wire third beaten 1 ¾ lengths behind winner Mary’s Boy Bolt, but was disqualified for interference and placed fourth. JJ Hernandez has been aboard for every start and retains the mount. Pass.


How can you not like a horse named Mirahmadi? So far, Mirahmadi is a morning glory. He looks good in the morning but hasn’t put it together mentally in the afternoon. Into Mischief’s son is the third foal out of Grade 2 winner More Chocolate. One half-sibling won twice, once on turf. Mirahmadi’s second dam is the Grade 2-winning turf miler Little Treasure, and his third generation has a mix of American and European graded winners all over the lawn. In his last start, Mirahmadi lost forward momentum while was trying to focus on what was going on around him. He kept shifting, sensing but not seeing his competitors due to the blinkers. In previous starts, he slows while near other horses, not sure he wants to pass. I’d be interested to see how he does sans blinkers, since in May, he looked very competitive breezing without them in company with Muth and again with another horse in July. Pass.


4.  Raging Torrent (5-1)

If anyone in this field can beat Prince of Monaco, then Raging Torrent is the best bet. The son of Maximus Mischief won his debut with an 88 Equibase speed figure. Last out, he was third behind the Baffert duo of Prince of Monaco and Muth, finishing 8 3/4 lengths behind the winner and receiving an 83 Equibase speed figure. Four runners from the colt’s debut race were next out winners, including Rothschild and Mary’s Boy Bolt. Two others hit the board in their next start. Trainer Doug O’Neill is just 3-for-68 in graded stakes over the last year, but his in-the-money clip is 32 percent. Regular rider Antonio Fresu retains the mount. Exotics play.


Raging Torrent was no match for Prince of Monaco, finishing almost 9 lengths behind and 4 1/2 lengths behind Muth. His final furlong was 13.80. The good news is that his post-race breeze equaled the pre-race move, indicating he didn’t lose a step. The Doug O’Neill trainee had a recent five-furlong gate work in 1:00.4 in company with maiden-placed Ur in Trouble. He was a tick slower out of the gate but was on the bridle with his ears pinned the entire way as little separated the pair. The son of leading freshman sire Maximus Mischief is the first foal out of the Violence mare Violent Wave. There’s not much black type in the family, but Violent Wave’s half-brother is Grade 3-winning turf sprinter, The Nth Degree. Exotics play.


5.  Rothschild (5-1)

Rothschild finished fifth in his debut, 4 3/4 lengths behind winner Raging Torrent with a 76 Equibase speed figure. With Kyle Frey up, the Uncle Mo colt chased the pace from the fifth running position and just made no headway. In his second start, Rothschild went gate-to-wire with Ramon Vazquez aboard in a 6 1/2 furlong event, extending his advantage at every call, hitting the wire 5 1/4 lengths clear of the runner-up. Since that race was just contested on August 25, none from that field have made subsequent starts. Vazquez retains the mount for trainer Tim Yakteen. Exotics play.


Rothschild dominated a mediocre bunch in his second start by 5 ¼ lengths. He went 6 ½ furlongs in a poky 1:18, with internal fractions of 22.95, 46.80, and 1:11.79, fully extended under a vigorous hand ride. In previous starts, none of his rivals finished closer than seven lengths from the winner. Still, the Tim Yakteen trainee earned a 91 Brisnet speed rating with a 95 late pace figure, better than the rest of this field, barring Prince of Monaco. Uncle Mo’s son is the first foal out of Grade 1-placed sprinter Still There. Rothschild breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 with the 4-year-old career maiden Viewers Discretion. The pair stayed together, neither looking like a superstar over the chewed-up track. Exotics play.


6.  Next Level (12-1)

Next Level debuted a well-beaten fifth in the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity, earning a 58 Equibase speed figure. He was off slow and raced in fifth throughout. In his next outing, the son of Vino Rosso went right to the lead, dueled the eventual winner throughout, showed some greenness by switching to the wrong lead late, and gave way late. He earned an 84 Equibase speed figure for that effort. None from the Fasig-Tipton Futurity nor Next Level’s second race have won in subsequent starts; Mission Beach, winner of Next Level’s second start, was fifth in the Hopeful (G1) in his next start. Kent Desormeaux retains the mount for brother Keith Desormeaux. Exotics play.


Next Level got a little tired in his second start while fighting it out with Misson Beach to his outside. Next Level switched back to his left lead briefly, causing him to lose a little momentum as Kent Desormeaux smacked him on his right side when Mission Beach started to pass. Nonetheless, Next Level earned a solid 86 Brisnet rating and finished his final furlong in 12.60. By second-ranked first crop sire Vino Rosso, Next Level is the second foal out of the stakes-placed Medaglia d’Oro mare Devious d’Oro. She’s a half to a pair of listed winners. Keith Desormeaux gave Next Level a pair of five-furlong stamina works leading up to the Futurity. Over the last three years, the Desormeaux brothers have teamed to hit the board 45 percent of the time. Exotics play.


7.  Mary’s Boy Bolt (15-1)

Mary’s Boy Bolt was off slow in his debut and never a factor, finishing a well-beaten ninth, 20 1/2 lengths behind winner Raging Torrent. The son of Bolt d’Oro got a trainer and jockey switch for his second start and came away with a nose victory despite Mirahmadi’s erratic shifting in the stretch. Mary’s Boy Bolt’s Equibase speed figure improved from a 34 in his debut to a 64 last out. I do wonder what he could have done in that mile long race if he hadn’t been completely shut off by Mirahmadi in the stretch. Could be a live longshot.


As Ashley observed, In his second start, Mary’s Boy Bolt was impeded by Mirahmadi in the stretch but overcame the trouble to win the photo. By no. 2 second-crop sire Bolt d’Oro, who won the 2017 edition of the Del Mar Futurity, Mary’s Boy Bolt is the second foal out of the unraced Pioneerof the Nile mare Mary Edna. His second dam is a stakes winner and multiple graded-placed, and the third generation of the family includes last year’s Champion Sprinter, Elite Power. Mary’s Boy Bolt received a low 72 Brisnet rating, but I think it might have been higher if not for the trouble. Trainer Mick Ruis, Sr. gave Mary’s Boy Bolt a pre-race three-furlong  maintenance drill in 37.6 seconds. I agree that this is a live longshot.


Final Thoughts

Ashley: It’s really hard to make a case for most of these against the pricey and undefeated Prince of Monaco. I think the Baffert trainee is going to take this field gate-to-wire from the rail post under the guidance of Flavien Prat. There are a few others in the field that have shown early speed, but this son of Speightstown has proven very fleet.

Raging Torrent, who was third to Prince of Monaco in the Best Pal (G3), is the one that I believe can improve enough to challenge the heavy favorite. The 88 Equibase speed figure that he earned in his debut is the second-best figure in the field. However, he’s probably running for second and will have to fend off Rothschild and Next Level.

This seems pretty clear cut, and I’m not going to let myself overthink it.

Laurie: In the last dozen years, all but one Del Mar Futurity hero won his last start – except for American Pharoah. Three favorites won, while five settled for second or third place. Eight winners employed a pacesetting or pressing style.

Prince of Monaco could be something special. He’s undoubtedly the best 2-year-old in the west. I’ve been high on him since his debut, and he hasn’t disappointed. Yeah, I don’t like to go with the Baffert favorite, but when the horse towers over the rest of the field, it’s foolish not to.

It’s a toss-up for the rest of this field. None of them are particularly strong. Next Level should improve in his second start off the layoff, especially with a couple of 5-furlong moves under his girth. It’s a toss-up between Raging Torrent and Rothschild. I’m going with Rothschild. Yakteen’s last-out maiden winners generally hit the board. I’m tossing Mary’s Boy Bolt in there because he was competitive despite trouble.




1. Prince of Monaco (2-5)

1. Prince of Monaco (2-5)

4. Raging Torrent (5-1)

6. Next Level (12-1)

5. Rothschild (5-1)

5. Rothschild (5-1)

6. Next Level (12-1)

7. Mary’s Boy Bolt (12-1)



Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 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
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