Horses to Watch: These 3 sophomores are worth your time

Horses to Watch: These 3 sophomores are worth your time
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

New to the Watch List

Adare Manor

The third time was the charm for Adare Manor, a 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo conditioned by Bob Baffert. Following a couple of defeats sprinting, Adare Manor ran out of her skin in a one-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Santa Anita, leading all the way to smash her pursuers by 12 lengths.

The early pace fractions Adare Manor recorded (23.06, 47.60 and 1:12.18 seconds) weren’t overly remarkable, but she was full on down the homestretch, rocketing the seventh furlong in 11.97 seconds and the final furlong in 12.51 seconds to stop the timer in 1:36.66. She was rewarded with a solid 92 Beyer speed figure.

This wasn’t the first strong showing from Adare Manor; in her debut dashing six furlongs at Santa Anita, she finished a neck behind Santa Ynez (G2) runner-up Awake At Midnyte and half a length clear of Santa Ynez winner Under the Stars. If Adare Manor keeps improving through the winter, she can develop into a graded-stakes winner, and maybe even a Grade 1 type.

Charge It

Although Charge It was defeated in a one-mile maiden special weight on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, he didn’t run poorly by any means. To the contrary, the Todd Pletcher trainee dueled for the lead through splits of 23.68, 46.13 and 1:10.58 before succumbing in the final furlong to finish second by a neck against the Grade 1-experienced Volcanic.

The final time was a respectable 1:36.15 seconds, and Charge It pulled 12 1/2 lengths clear of the third-place finisher, so Charge It clearly ran a strong race. A 3-year-old son of Tapit hailing from the ultra-productive family of Take Charge Lady (whose descendants include champions Will Take Charge and Take Charge Brandi), Charge It is bred to improve with maturity and might just win a graded stakes (or several) before the year is over.

Recent Watch List winners

Dean’s List

He had to work harder than expected, but Dean’s List got the job done in a six-furlong allowance optional claimer on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Favored at 3-10 off an impressive debut victory at Gulfstream, Dean’s List wasted no time securing the early lead, dashing to the front through solid splits of 22.13 and 45.24 seconds. When challenged down the homestretch by second betting choice Dean Delivers, Dean’s List responded with tenacity, sprinting the final two furlongs in 11.78 and 12.32 seconds to prevail by a neck in 1:09.34 seconds.

Although Dean’s List’s pedigree (by Speightstown out of a Sharp Humor mare) might appear speed-oriented at first glance, Speightstown has sired several Grade 1 winners over 1 1/4 miles, so there’s a chance Dean’s List will successful stretch out in distance down the road. In any case, the Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old looks like a stakes horse in the making.

Off the Watch List

Touch Code

Couldn’t keep pace with Volcanic and Charge It in Saturday’s one-mile maiden heat at Santa Anita, finishing 12 3/4 lengths behind in third place. The stoutly bred half-brother to West Coast has the potential to improve with maturity and develop into a nice horse, but I’ll want to see a sharper effort next time before returning him to my watch list.

Here is my complete, updated list of Horses to Watch.

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