On Friday, two maiden events, one at Keeneland and the other at Santa Anita, could yield future stakes stars, including Accelerate's half-sister and a Gun Runner first timer out of a full sister to Malibu Moon.
Keeneland's 10th race attracted a field of 10 fillies, most of who have a start or two under their girth. Four well-bred lasses are worth a look.
In her debut at Saratoga over a good track, Malibu Kendall (Curlin - Issues, by Awesome Again) chased the runaway winner Jester Cals NoJoy but had to settle for second place, a length clear of the third-place finisher. But the Steve Asmussen trainee could improve in her second start.
Pedigree: Malibu Kendall is bred to love two turns and is bred on the same sire/damsire cross as Travers (G1) winner and sire Keen Ice and La Grange, winner of the 2014 Cinderella Stakes.
Malibu Kendall is a half-sister to 2018 champion older male Accelerate, plus the turf miler Daddy D T, the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes winner, and his full brother, Willard L. Proctor Memorial winner Amarish. Malibu Kendall's first three dams are stakes-placed. She is inbred to the Reine de Course (superior producer) Smartaire, Malibu Kendall's fifth dam. Smartaire bore Smarten, damsire of Smart Strike, who is Curlin's sire.
Although Cupid's Strike (Cupid - Making Mark Money, by Smart Strike) draws the rail, Ken McPeek's pretty gray filly enters this seven-furlong event with two pre-race four-furlong bullet works, both at Keeneland. The meet's leading jock by earnings, Brian Hernandez Jr., will ride.
Pedigree: First-crop sire Cupid is ranked number 13 by earnings, and he has two stakes winners, God of Love, hero of the 1 1/6 mile Cup and Saucer Stakes at Woodbine, and The Sky is Falling, winner of the West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders' Classic at 6 1/2 furlongs. Cupid's daughter Desert Dawn finished a solid third in the 1 1/16 mile Chandelier Stakes (G2). Cupid has 18 percent dirt sprint winners from first-time starters.
Cupid's Strike descends from the excellent producer La Affirmed, whose offspring include the sires Sky Mesa and Bernstein, plus new sire, the multiple graded winner Good Samaritan, and 2021 Breeders' Cup Classic contender Maxfield.
Class can skip a generation, which could be the case in Cupid's Strike's female family. Her half-brother Hidden Stash hit the board in this year's Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
In her debut over a wet Churchill track, La Bombonera (Quality Road - Ever So Clever, by Medaglia d'Oro) was stuck four wide the entire way in a seven-furlong maiden event. She challenged around the far turn, but the Brad Cox trainee tired to fifth place. La Bombonera has high knee action and paddles with her right foreleg. She recorded a post-race four-furlong move in 46.40, the second-best of the day.
Pedigree: La Bombonera is the first foal out of the Grade 3 winner Ever So Clever, who earned $522,830 in 13 starts. The mare also placed in the Pocahontas and Golden Rod Stakes and three listed stakes in three years of racing. Ever So Clever's half-sister Wilful Woman was second in this year's Black-Eyed Susan (G2), and two other half-siblings, Miss Centerfold and Tathqeef are stakes placed over the lawn. La Bombonera's second dam is the consistent multiple stakes winner Foxy Danseur, who was in the money in 11 of 22 starts, with earnings of $340,153.
Fast and Flirty (Into Mischief - Speed Dating, by Not For Love) makes her debut for Brendan Walsh. The bay filly has a conservative yet consistent record of four- and five-furlong works at Turfway and Churchill.
Pedigree: Fast and Flirty should excel at seven furlongs and might handle nine furlongs as she matures. Her half-sister Split Time has earned $415,950 in a dozen starts, and she is a multiple-stakes winner from seven to nine furlongs. In addition, their dam is a half-sister to the multiple stakes-winning veteran Saratoga Snacks, who also won from seven to nine furlongs.
The action continues at Santa Anita in Race 5 for turf milers. There are two first-time starter standouts.
Magical Sign (Gun Runner - Malvinia, by A.P. Indy) might need a start or two – not surprising, given her pedigree. The Mike McCarthy trainee has a high, choppy gait and struggles to keep up in her morning works.
Pedigree: Magical Sign is by this year's first crop sire sensation Gun Runner, whose daughters Wicked Halo and Echo Zulu swept New York's graded stakes for fillies, the Adirondack (G2), Spinaway (G1) and Frizette (G1). Among his sons, Gunite captured the Hopeful (G1) and Pappacap won the Best Pal (G2).
Magical Sign's half-sister Moraz, also conditioned by Mike McCarthy, hit the board in seven of eight starts this year, including runner-up finishes in the Las Virgenes (G3), Santa Ysabel (G2), and Santa Anita Oaks (G2). Their dam Malvinia is a full sister to prominent sire Malibu Moon, and a half-sister bore graded stakes winner and the excellent turf sire Temple City. Magical Sign's second dam Macoumba is a French Group 1 winner.
First-timer Ballet Dancing (Medaglia d'Oro - Fully Living, by Unbridled's Song) has a precocious distaff line and is worth strong consideration. Her full sister Foolish Living won her turf mile debut and placed in two of three other starts before retiring. A half-brother, Untreated, won his second start, and their dam Fully Living also won her debut and is multiple stakes placed. Ballet Dancing's second dam Half A.P. is a half-sister to 2003 champion juvenile filly Halfbridled.