As we jump into the fall season, let's take a breath and pause to review the highest-rated juveniles from August through the end of the Saratoga and Del Mar meets.
Gunite, Echo Zulu, Pinehurst, Grace Adler and Outfoxed earned the highest stakes speed figures between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6. All of them share similar bloodlines.
Four of the five stakes winners are products of the potent bloodline cross of Candy Ride/Storm Cat. Gunite and Pinehurst are by sons of Candy Ride out of mares by Giant's Causeway. Interestingly, Giant's Causeway also is Gun Runner's damsire, so the breeding is doubled up.
Echo Zulu's damsire Menifee is by Storm Cat's son Harlan.
Outfoxed is by the Candy Ride stallion Valiant Minster and her damsire Kantharos is a great-grandson of Storm Cat.
The fifth stakes winner, Grace Adler, claims Storm Cat bloodlines through her sire Newfoundland.
Gun Runner's sons and daughters just keep on winning. Gunite and Echo Zulu added an exclamation point to Saratoga's closing weekend, sweeping the Hopeful (G1) and Spinaway (G1) in dominating performances.
This was a historic feat for Gun Runner: He's the first sire to complete the Hopeful/Spinaway victories in his first crop and the first since Bold Ruler to pull off the double. That stallion did it twice, in 1967 and in 1969.
After finishing second in the Saratoga Special (G2) to High Oak, Gunite dominated rivals, including High Oak and odds-on favorite Wit, by 5 3/4 lengths in the Hopeful Stakes (G1). The Steve Asmussen trainee completed seven furlongs in 1:23.08 and earned a 97 Brisnet speed figure. Gunite has a 5: 2-2-1 record and $293,988 in earnings. The Champagne Stakes (G1) on Oct. 2 is the next likely target.
Pedigree: Gunite (Gun Runner - Simple Surprise, by Cowboy Cal) has a miler pedigree and might go farther with maturity and training. He is the first competitor out of Bolton Landing Stakes winner Simple Surprise. Gunite's first three dams are black-type winning juveniles, so his precocity is no surprise. All three were successful sprinters.
Echo Zulu won the Spinaway Stakes in front-running style, pulling away to win by four lengths. The Steve Asmussen trainee was quicker than her stablemate, finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.51. She shares the top 99 speed figure of August with maiden winner Corniche and Jack Christopher. Echo Zulu is undefeated in two starts with earnings of $220,000. We might see her in the Frizette Stakes (G1) on Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
Pedigree: Echo Zulu (Gun Runner - Letgomyecho, by Menifee) has a miler pedigree, but Gun Runner's influence might add additional stamina. The filly is a member of a very active family. Her half-siblings include last year's H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) winner Echo Town, multiple Grade 3 winner J Boys Echo, plus a pair of precocious graded-placed runners, Unbridled Outlaw and Dragic. In addition, Echo Zulu's half-sisters bore this year's Triple Bend (G1) runner-up Shooters Shoot and Deputy's Echo, who is multiple listed-placed between 5 1/2 furlongs and 1 1/8 miles.
Pinehurst surprised the field by 4 1/2 lengths in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), while the favorite, his stablemate Murray, faded to fifth, 9 1/2 lengths behind. The Bob Baffert trainee completed seven furlongs in 1:23.55 and earned a 95 speed figure. Pinehurst is undefeated in two starts with earnings of $222,000. Pinehurst might point to the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 1.
Pedigree: Pinehurst (Twirling Candy - Giant Win, by Giant's Causeway) has a miler/middle distance pedigree and conformation, and he might go farther with maturity and training.
Twirling Candy gets winners over all distances, from the multiple-graded-winning sprinter Finlye'sluckycharm to this year's Preakness hero Rombauer.
Pinehurst's distaff line is filled with sprint speed. His dam Giant Win's full sister is a Grade 3-winning sprinter First Passage, who bore a Grade 3-winning sprinter Berned. In turn, that one produced stakes placed sprinter Fashion Fact. Pinehurst's extended family includes Grade 1-winning sprinter Harmony Lodge, Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Magnum Moon, and stakes-winning turf horse Armistice Day, a son of Harmony Lodge.
Grace Adler surged five wide in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and passed the field like they were standing still. The Bob Baffert trainee drew off by 11 1/4 lengths. Her final time for seven furlongs was 1:23.76, and she earned a 97-speed figure. Grace Adler is undefeated in two starts with earnings of $222,000.
Pedigree: Grace Adler (Curlin - Our Khrysty, by Newfoundland) has a miler/middle-distance pedigree and may go farther with maturity and training.
The number 5-ranked national sire by earnings, Curlin gets graded winners at all distances. Grace Adler's damsire Newfoundland is a son of Storm Cat.
Grace Adler's half-sister Virginia Key placed third in the 2018 Gazelle (G2). Their dam, Our Khrysty, is a Grade 3-winning miler and is a half-sister to Whitney Handicap (G1) winner Bullsbay.
After finishing third behind Echo Zulu in her debut, Outfoxed found easier company next out in the FTBOA Florida Sire Susan's Girl Stakes. The Bill Mott trainee destroyed a field of state-bred fillies by 13 1/2 lengths and finished seven furlongs in 1:23.81. Her performance earned Outfoxed a 98-speed figure. She has a record of 2: 1-0-1 and $132,000 in earnings. Currently breezing at Gulfstream, Outfoxed is nominated to Saturday's My Dear Girl Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
Pedigree: Outfoxed (Valiant Minister - Savingtime, by Kantharos) has a sprinter/miler pedigree. She is the first winner for her sire.
First crop sire Valiant Minister is a good-looking son of Candy Ride out of the unraced mare Spooky Minister (Deputy Minister). His full brothers Mo Candy and Holy Candy are graded placed sprinters, and half-brother Silver Assault is a multiple stakes placed sprinter. Valiant Minister's second dam is Lunar Spook, heroine of the 1993 Ashland Stakes (G1) at 1 1/16 miles.
Outfoxed is the first foal out of the sprinter Savingtime, a multiple stakes placed earner of $234,839 in 34 starts. She is the most successful runner in three generations of the distaff line.