Prospect Watch: 6 well-bred sophomores at 3 tracks

Prospect Watch: 6 well-bred sophomores at 3 tracks
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

This week is a busy one as far as maiden special weights for 3-year-olds are concerned. A bevy of competitive races are set to take place at tracks across the country, with Florida in particular offering a promising slate.

Let’s highlight half a dozen of the best-bred youngsters entered to race in a trio of events at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs:

Thursday

Aqueduct Race 1: Maiden special weight (seven furlongs, 12:20 p.m. EST)

No. 4 Improper

Age: 3

Pedigree: Into Mischief–Beholden, by Cat Thief

Purchase price: $350,000

Trainer: John Terranova

A son of three-time leading sire Into Mischief, Improper is set to become the ninth starter for Beholden, a productive mare whose previous foals include Schuylerville (G3) winner Brazen Persuasion and two other stakes winners.

Improper doesn’t bring the flashiest work tab to the table, and John Terranova wins at only a 9 percent rate with first-time starters, so Improper might not fire his strongest shot on debut. But down the road, this $350,000 yearling acquisition has the potential to develop into a stakes type.

No. 6 Keeping the Edge

Age: 3

Pedigree: Super Saver–Magdalena’s Chase, by Cape Town

Purchase price: $160,000

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

If the cross of Super Saver and Magdalena’s Chase sounds familiar, that’s because the mating has already produced Hopeful (G1) winner Competitive Edge. Only time will tell if Keeping the Edge can emulate his full sibling and become a Grade 1 winner, but there’s no reason to think he can’t factor on Thursday.

At first glance, Keeping the Edge’s workouts might seem a bit on the slow side. But a couple of them have been bullet moves at Fair Hill, where blazing times aren’t so common. Trainer Michael Trombetta wins at a respectable 13 percent rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights, so don’t count Keeping the Edge out of the mix.

Friday

Tampa Bay Downs Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 4:22 p.m.)

No. 4 Bruce Banner

Age: 3

Pedigree: Malibu Moon–City Fair, by Carson City

Purchase price: $230,000

Trainer: Michael Campbell

Malibu Moon is the sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, and City Fair has achieved success as the dam of Rebel (G2) and Oaklawn Handicap (G2) winner Win Willy. Surely this is a pedigree with promise.

Bruce Banner has shown speed in the mornings, even clocking a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.6 seconds at Tampa Bay Downs last month. Malibu Moon sires 13 percent winners from first-time starters, and Michael Campbell strikes at an excellent 21 percent rate with debuting runners, so Bruce Banner can’t be dismissed from consideration.

No. 5 Shinnecock Hills

Age: 3

Pedigree: Quality Road–Princess Aspen, by Birdstone

Purchase price: $600,000

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Todd Pletcher has been on fire at Tampa Bay Downs, with three wins and two seconds from five starters in the past month. He’ll have every chance to pick up another victory courtesy of Shinnecock Hills.

A son of Pletcher’s four-time Grade 1 winner Quality Road, Shinnecock Hillls was produced by the unraced mare Princess Aspen, a daughter of Belmont Stakes hero Birdstone. Shinnecock Hills has put together a lengthy work tab at Palm Beach Downs and will be ridden by hot jockey Pablo Morales (a 26 percent winner at Tampa Bay Downs), so he should be ready for a competitive showing.

No. 9 Macallan

Age: 3

Pedigree: Quality Road–Control Freak, by Giant’s Causeway

Purchase price: $210,000

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

The second Pletcher-trained son of Quality Road in this field is Macallan, and while Shinnecock Hills sold for a significantly higher price, Macallan might be the more likely winner on Friday.

After all, Macallan has shown serious speed at Palm Beach Downs. Last Saturday, he clocked five furlongs in a bullet 59.6 seconds, an excellent time over the somewhat slow surface at Palm Beach. Hot jockey Daniel Centeno (a 20 percent winner at Tampa Bay Downs) has been assigned the mount, so don’t be surprised if Macallan fires a big effort on debut.

Saturday

Gulfstream Park Race 11: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on turf, 5:14 p.m.)

No. 1 Principe d’Oro

Age: 3

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro–Dame Dorothy, by Bernardini

Purchase price: $650,000

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

One of the most expensive 3-year-olds entered to race this week is Principe d’Oro, a son of acclaimed sire Medaglia d’Oro out of Humana Distaff (G1) winner Dame Dorothy. Considering Dame Dorothy already has foaled Allaire DuPont Distaff Match Series (G3)  winner Spice Is Nice, Principe d’Oro’s lofty price tag is understandable.

Principe d’Oro’s pedigree is geared toward success running long on dirt, but he’s slated to debut on grass. Todd Pletcher wins at only an 11 percent rate when debuting horses on turf, well below his overall 20 percent win rate with first-time starters. But on the bright side, hot jockey Luis Saez (a 42 percent winner teaming up with Pletcher over the last two months) is named to ride. Throw in the fact Medaglia d’Oro has sired a number of quality grass runners (including Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic), and Principe d’Oro is a prospect worth watching.

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