Inspiressa hasn’t added to her racing resume since Aug. 31, but the ensuing months have been kind to her reputation.
The juvenile filly who finished on either side of Bast in two career starts has seen that rival go on to win a trio of Grade 1 events, putting her in position to receive Eclipse Award votes.
Connections of Inspiressa — last seen when second in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) — in the meantime were content to wait, planning to challenge the division’s best in 2020.
“She’s on her way back,” owner Kosta Hronis said. “She looks really, really bright — her future. She’s a two-turn dirt horse, so if we can get her ready for the 3-year-old series, I think she can be a really special horse.”
A Florida-bred daughter of The Big Beast, Inspiressa is campaigned in partnership by Hronis Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and William Sandbrook. Connections went to $850,000 to purchase her last March as a 2-year-old in training, then sent her to trainer John Sadler.
On debut, Inspiressa defeated Bast when the two went 5 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 11 at Del Mar. Bast turned the tables with authority in the seven-furlong debutante, drawing off from Inspiressa by 8 3/4 lengths.
“She came out of that race at Del Mar a little sore,” Hronis said. “She’s just a 2-year-old, so there’s no rush. We don’t really push our 2-year-olds at all. It’s just not our philosophy to get them ready for something they’re not ready for.”
Hronis has to only look back about a year to see how well that approach can reward horsemen. The eventual champion Accelerate didn’t debut until April of his 3-year-old season, while Catalina Cruiser, another graded stakes winner and stallion prospect for Hronis Racing, waited until October of his sophomore year.
“I think because of their great careers, it taught us a lesson,” Hronis said. “Patience is a virtue. Sit back, relax, let them come along at their own pace and we end up with really nice horses in the older division.”
In that vein, a few other notables from the stable will join Inspiressa in returning to the races in 2020:
— Grade 1 winner Cistron, who missed the Breeders’ Cup Sprint due to a bruised pelvis, could have still run in that race, “but it really wouldn’t have been fair to him,” Hronis said. “We backed off, and he’s back on the racetrack now. He’s happy to be there. He looks really good.”
A 4-year-old by The Factor, Ciston has run on turf but elevated himself this season on the main track, where he won the Kona Gold (G2) in April at Santa Anita before the Bing Crosby (G1) in July at Del Mar.
“I’m hoping we get him back in the Breeders’ Cup so he can actually do that,” Hronis said. “He deserved to be in that race.”
— Nolo Contesto, a maiden breaker last January over Omaha Beach, didn’t win again as a 3-year-old having appeared in spots such as the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Del Mar Derby (G2) on the turf. The Pioneerof the Nile colt last appeared in October.
“I think he just needed time to mature,” Hronis said. “He’s a funky little horse, so we just backed off on him and parked him. We’re going to bring him out after new years, start over on him and see what kind of horse we can have.”
— Off since winning Santa Anita’s San Carlos Stakes (G2) back in March, the 7-year-old St. Joe Bay, a gelding who specializes in sprints, has returned to the work tab.
“It’s going to be great to have him back on the racetrack, St. Joe,” Hronis said. “He’s a real trier.”
— And a 2-year-old to watch from the operation is Tripoli, a Kitten’s Joy colt on the work tab at Los Alamitos. He cost $450,000 as a yearling, and Hronis said “fingers crossed,” he could debut in January.