Ross: 2-year-olds to watch from the rising juvenile crop

June 26, 2019 06:00pm
Ross: 2-year-olds to watch from the rising juvenile crop
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Coinciding with Horse Racing Nation’s launch of pages listing 2020 Kentucky Derby contenders and Top 2-Year-Old Fillies, let’s look at some of the promising runners from the rising class.

Included in the drop are the highly anticipated first batch of American Pharoah babies along with offspring of champion Honor Code, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Liam’s Map and Belmont Stakes winners Palace Malice and Tonalist.

There isn’t time or room to list all of them — more to come this summer in fall —  so for now, get to know these 13 juveniles to watch:

(Twirling Candy - Simply Sunny, by Unbridled's Song)

Auction: KEESEP’18 $97K
Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Fresh off his maiden score, Fore Left remained undefeated in Belmont Park’s Tremont Stakes. bHe ounded out of the gate and quickly established himself on the lead. The long-striding bay, ears flopping back and forth, galloped through fractions of 22.58, 45.77, 57.85 and stopped the clock in 1:04.44. The connections of Reddam and O’Neill brought us Kentucky Derby heroes I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). 

Fore Left has the pedigree to handle middle distances, and quite possibly classic distances. He’s the first foal out of a half-sister to Gulfstream Park Derby hero Reveron, who placed in the Florida Derby. His third dam, Stylish Star, was a multiple Grade 3 winner from 6 1/2 furlongs to 9 furlongs. She was also a runner-up in a pair of Grade 1s at 1 1/8 miles.

(Strong Mandate - Timetobegone, by Vindication)

FTKJUL’18 $190K
Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart

Maryannorginger found all sorts of trouble when debuting in Belmont’s Astoria Stakes. Breaking from the dreaded Post 1, the dark bay went to her knees at the start of the 5 1/2-furlong race, and just strides later, had to check sharply back to second last. After a rail trip for much of the race, Jorge Vargas, Jr. tipped the hard-trying filly to the outside, where she held off post-time favorite Perfect Alibi by 3/4 of length, and late-running Talk You Out of It was third. Due to a setback since then, it could be a while before we see her again.

Maryanorginger has a classy, precocious pedigree, and may mature to be a respectable sprinter/miler. She’s a half-sister to stakes placed sprinter Proud of My Honey. Her dam is a full sister to a restricted stakes-placed miler. Other blacktype earners in the second generation include California champion filly Controlled, who bore multiple graded stakes winner Bear Now. Also part of this family are Del Mar Futurity hero Icecoldbeeratreds and juvenile restricted winners Inexcessive Speed and Bitzka.

(Into Mischief - Spin the Bottle, by Hard Spun)  

EASOCT'18 $210K
Trainer: Todd Pletcher

This cleverly named filly flashed speed in her five-furlong debut, winning by 4 1/2 lengths in 58.57 on June 12 at Belmont Park.

  Kiss the Girl has a win-early pedigree and may handle a mile to middle distances with maturity.She’s the first foal out of an unraced half-sister to restricted stakes-winning sprinter, Nathan’s H Q. The third generation includes Grade 1-winning miler Off the Tracks, who also captured the Schuylerville Stakes at 2; Grade 2 winner Concord Point; and Tasha’s Miracle, a Grade 3 winner on turf and dirt who captured the Sorrento Stakes at 2.

(American Pharoah - Richies Party Girl, by Any Given Saturday)

Trainer: Wesley Ward

Showing surprising precocity for a foal from American Pharoah’s first crop, Maven shot out of the gate, refused to be rated, and was a bit immature, lugging to his left, on April 12 at Aqueduct. He held off the gaining Lebda by 1/2 length, getting 4 1/2 furlongs in :52.82. The Chestnut colt can be excused his immaturity, as he won his debut while still technically a yearling. He was foaled on May 24, 2017. After passing on Royal Ascot’s Norfolk Stakes (G2) due to soft ground, the colt is expected to stay in Europe for another start.

Maven should love the turf and be adept at two turns with his tail sire line (Pioneerof the Nile and Empire Maker) both influences in that regard. Maven is the first foal out of a multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter, who captured the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, and at 3 won a pair of listed sprints at Belmont and Kentucky Downs. The win-early blacktype continues in the second generation, with Light the City, a 2-year-old stakes-winning sprinter who later placed in the  Las Virgenes (G1) at a mile, Grade 3 stakes-winning turf miler Strategic Partner, who was third in the Pilgrim Stakes at 2, and Victory Light, a juvenile Grade 2 stakes placed turf miler. Maven’s second and third dams also own blacktype, and his second dam Very Special Lite set a new course record of 1:33.60 for a turf mile. This is the distaff line of multiple graded stakes winner and sire Two Step Salsa.

(Karakontie (JPN) - Down The Well (IRE), by Mujadil)

OBSMAR’19 $365K
Trainer: Wesley Ward

Karak broke sharply, but quickly found herself dueling with stablemate No Nay Maybe in the early stages on May 25 at Belmont Park. However, Karak drew away in the stretch to win the 5-furlong turf event by three lengths, stopping the clock in 57.38. She went on to run 15th in Royal Ascot’s Windsor Castle Stakes.

Karak may develop into a turf miler as a daughter of first crop sire Karakonte. The stallion is a son of Bernstein, from the family of Kingmambo, and although foaled in Japan, competed mainly in France. Karakonte won his debut and was a Group 1 winner as a juvenile. At 3, he captured the Poule d'Essai des Poulains-French Two Thousand Guineas, and conquered a full field of older horses in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Karak was his first winner. Precocity runs throughout Karak’s pedigree. She’s a half-sister to the stakes-winning dirt miler Aqua Frio, who was multiple stakes placed as a juvenile. Their dam was a stakes-winning 2-year-old in England, and is a half-sister to two stakes-placed European runners. The blacktype fades out in the third generation, but picks back up in the fourth, which is mostly international. 

(Into Mischief - Kayce Ace, by Tiznow)

KEESEP’17 $100K
Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Comical dueled for the early lead on May 26 at Santa Anita, then drew clear to win her maiden by six lengths, getting 4 1/2 furlongs in 52.32. 

Comical should handle 1 1/6 miles and possibly 1 1/8 miles as she matures. She’s the fourth foal and first winner out of her stakes-placed dam. Kayce Ace is a full sister to Travers Stakes hero and sire Colonel John and to Grade 1 stakes-placed Mr. Hot Stuff, who found new life as a steeplechaser. The third generation includes stakes-winning miler Bear’s Way and stakes-placed 2-year-old Conquest Eclipse. 

Here are seven babies yet to make their debut, but who are worth watching:

(Carpe Diem - Holy Place, by Pulpit)

Auction: OBSMAR’19 $185K
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer 

Tomorrow Knows sold at the OBS March sale to West Point Thoroughbreds after working two furlongs in :21 flat. He was breezing steadily at Santa Anita since late April, including three gate breezes, before Hollendorfer was asked to pack up and leave. He recorded a bullet half mile in 47.20, the best of 74 workers, in his second gate breeze and recently posted another four furlongs in 48.60 (9/39) from the gate. 

Tomorrow Knows has the pedigree and conformation to handle a mile to middle distances. He’s from the first crop of Blue Grass Stakes (G1) hero Carpe Diem, who also placed second in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Texas Red. Carpe Diem was also represented by his first winner, Nayibeth, in an early maiden race at Keeneland. Tomorrow Knows is a second foal. His dam is a half-sister to 2017 champion Lady Eli, who also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Bizzy Caroline, another half-sister, is a multiple Grade 3 stakes turf winner at 9 furlongs and multiple stakes placed at 11 and 12 furlongs. The third generation includes champion 3-year-old filly Spiced Perfection, Canadian champion juvenile filly Spring in the Air, Spinaway (G1) winner Sweet Loretta, and multiple graded stakes winner Tejano Run, who was second in the 1995 Kentucky Derby.

(Tapit - Artemis Agrotera, by Roman Ruler)

Auction: OBSMAR’19 $2 million
Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Chestertown breezed a furlong in :10.1 at the OBS March sale. The large pretty gray colt attracted the eye of the partnership of  West Point Thoroughbreds, Rob Masiello and Siena Farm, and his breeders, Chester and Mary Broman retain an interest in the colt, who is named for their farm in Chestertown, New York.  Chestertown has been breezing regularly at Keeneland.

Chestertown is larger than the typical offspring by Tapit and appears to have the conformation of a sprinter/miler. He’s the first foal out of a multiple Grade 1 winning sprinter/miler. Artemis Agrotera captured the Frizette Stakes as a 2-year-old, plus the Ballerina (G1) and Gallant Bloom (G2) at 3. Chestertown’s second dam, Indy Glory, is a stakes-winning full sister to Grade 2 hero and sire Stephen Got Even. The colt’s third and fourth dams also own blacktype. 

Other well-bred babies who are breezing toward their debuts include:

(Curlin), the first foal out of Champion Take Charge Brandi.

(Tapit) — a half sister to sire Liam’s Map, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Not This Time and stakes winner Taylor S. — is breezing at Santa Anita. 

(American Pharoah), a half sister to Bodemeister, is breezing at Los Alamitos. 

(Honor Code) is a muscular colt who strongly resembles his sire, and is a half-brother to three juvenile blacktype earners: Del Mar Debutante (G1) heroine Mooonshine Memories, Swynfoord Stakes winner Indian Evening and stakes-placed Mo for the Money. His dam is a half-sister to champion Favorite Trick. Night Code is breezing at Keeneland for Asmussen. 

(Uncle Mo) is out of a half-sister to Tonalist and has the conformation of a route horse. He just started breezing for Christophe Clement.

There are plenty of other well-bred babies to watch, and we’ll regularly gauge their pedigrees as they debut throughout the summer.


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Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


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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. 

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