As May winds down, a bevy of intriguing maiden special weights are set to take place at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. Among the first-time starters in the entries are Justafever (a son of Justify) and Forever After All (a half-sister to Tom’s d’Etat).
We’ll highlight these newcomers plus three others in this week’s edition of Prospect Watch.
Churchill Downs Race 1: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 12:45 p.m. EDT)
No. 2 Justafever
Pedigree: Justify–Nina Fever, by Borrego
Purchase price: N/A
Trainer: Mike Maker
Hailing from the first crop of foals sired by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Justafever was produced by the speedy mare Nina Fever, a debut-winning juvenile sprinter who later placed three times at the stakes level. Nina Fever previously passed on her early-maturing speed to Grade 1 Frizette winner Nickname, a daughter of Scat Daddy (sire of Justify).
With this beautiful pedigree in his corner, Justafever figures to draw plenty of betting support on Friday. He’s been working fast for hot trainer Mike Maker (most recently clocking four furlongs from the starting gate in 47.6 seconds), so there’s a lot to like about Justafever.
No. 3 Summonyourcourage
Pedigree: Practical Joke–Queen of the Realm, by Empire Maker
Purchase price: $500,000
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher doesn’t debut juveniles at Churchill Downs very often, but he’ll make an exception with Summonyourcourage. Sold for half a million dollars as a yearling, Summonyourcourage has turned in a solid series of workouts at Palm Beach Downs and Belmont Park but is shipping to Churchill for his first run under colors.
Summonyourcourage brings a productive pedigree to the table. Sire Practical Joke won multiple Grade 1 races as a juvenile and sires an excellent 19 percent winners from first-time starters, while dam Queen of the Realm has foaled five winners from six starters. Throw in the presence of jockey Tyler Gaffalione (the leading rider at the last six Churchill Downs meets), and Summonyourcourage warrants respect.
No. 3 Owen’s Leap
Pedigree: Bolt d’Oro–Defy Gravity, by Bandini
Purchase price: $175,000
Trainer: Tom Amoss
It’s safe to say Owen’s Leap is bred to win from an early age. Sire Bolt d’Oro won multiple Grade 1 races as a juvenile, dam Defy Gravity won the Smart Halo at age 2, and half-sister Green Destiny nabbed the Ellis Park Debutante as a youngster.
Bolt d’Oro is off to a promising start at stud, and Owen’s Leap has cranked out a couple of bullet workouts at Churchill Downs for trainer Tom Amoss, a 16 percent winner with first-time starters. Summonyourcourage and Justafever might be the morning-line favorites, but Owen’s Leap appears to have a strong chance to challenge as well.
Belmont Park Race 1: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 1:00 p.m.)
No. 2 Forte
Pedigree: Violence–Queen Caroline, by Blame
Purchase price: $110,000
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
The heavy favorite in this maiden dash for juveniles is Forte, racing for the partnership of Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable. The $110,000 auction acquisition is a son of Pletcher’s juvenile Grade 1 winner Violence (who sires 18 percent winners from first-time starters) out of Queen Caroline, a five-time stakes winner running long on turf.
Forte has shown promise during morning training at Belmont Park, most recently clocking a bullet half-mile from the starting gate in 48 seconds. Hot jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (a 30 percent winner at Belmont this meet) is named to ride, so it’s easy to see why Forte is the 4-5 morning line favorite.
Churchill Downs Race 7: Maiden special weight (1 1/16 miles, 3:50 p.m.)
No. 1 Forever After All
Pedigree: Connect–Julia Tuttle, by Giant’s Causeway
Purchase price: N/A
Trainer: Al Stall Jr.
Forever After All might be a 12-1 long shot on the morning line, but she has the pedigree to be something special. Sire Connect won the Cigar Mile (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G2), while dam Julie Tuttle won at the stakes level and more recently achieved fame as the dam of Clark (G1) winner Tom’s d’Etat.
Tom’s d’Etat was conditioned by Al Stall, who likewise trains Forever After All. Stall’s 12 percent win rate win rate with first-time starters is respectable, and Forever After All has put together a lengthy work tab in preparation for her debut. So dismiss this well-bred filly at your own risk. She has the potential to develop into a high-class prospect.