Prospect Watch: Check out 7 promising debuts at 3 tracks

Prospect Watch: Check out 7 promising debuts at 3 tracks
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Some of the best racing during the final week of May is taking place on Memorial Day, but the Friday and Saturday action is intriguing as far as high-quality maiden special weights are concerned.

Entries and results: Belmont Park | Santa Anita | Churchill Downs

Competitive events are taking place across the country, so let’s highlight seven well-bred 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds who are slated to debut.


Belmont Park race 5: Maiden special weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:03 p.m. EDT)

No. 2 Double Dream

3-year-old filly

Pedigree: Curlin–Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Chad Brown

Double Dream brings a classy pedigree to her debut. The daughter of two-time horse of the year and elite sire Curlin is a half-sister to Risen Star (G2) winner El Padrino and Haskell (G1) and Wood Memorial (G1) winner Verrazano. The latter runner placed twice at the Group 1 level on turf, so tackling the Belmont grass might suit Double Dream just fine. Throw in hot jockey Flavien Prat (a 25 percent winner at Belmont this meet), and there’s plenty to like about Double Dream.

Santa Anita race 3: Maiden special weight (one mile, 5:01 p.m.)

No. 4 Smart Mo

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Mo Town–Vendita, by Smart Strike

Purchase price: $190,000

Trainer: John Shirreffs

John Shirreffs isn’t a frequent winner with first-time starters, but Smart Mo is eligible to factor after posting a sharp series of workouts at Santa Anita. Six furlongs in 1:13, five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:01.6, five furlongs in 59.6 seconds and three furlongs in a bullet 35.4 seconds … that’s a flashy work tab. Don’t count Smart Mo out of the mix.


Santa Anita race 2: Maiden special weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 4:30 p.m.)

No. 2 Smoove Over

2-year-old filly

Pedigree: Pavel–Smoove It, by Square Eddie

Purchase price: $6,500

Trainer: Jose Hernandez Jr.

Although Smoove Over sold for only $6,500 as a yearling, there’s quite a bit of class in her pedigree. Sire Pavel won the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) and dam Smoove It won the Irish O’Brien and placed in the Wilshire (G3). Smoove Over has put together a lengthy work tab in preparation for her debut (including a recent half-mile from the Los Alamitos starting gate in 49 seconds) and might fire a competitive shot.

No. 3 Kythira

2-year-old filly

Pedigree: Kantharos–Cascading, by A.P. Indy

Purchase price: $25,000

Trainer: Ryan Hanson

Another well-bred filly scheduled to debut in this field is Kythira, a daughter of unbeaten Saratoga Special (G2) and Bashford Manor (G3) winner Kantharos out of Glorious Song winner Cascading, in turn a daughter of horse of the year and legendary sire A.P. Indy. Kantharos is the sire of millionaire sprinters X Y Jet and World of Trouble, and Kythira showed speed when clocking a bullet half-mile from the Santa Anita starting gate in 47.4 seconds, so look for this dark bay filly to challenge for top honors on Saturday.

Churchill Downs race 11: Maiden special weight (6 1/2 furlongs, 5:58 p.m.)

No. 4 Cusp

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: City of Light–Swingit, by Victory Gallop

Purchase price: $725,000

Trainer: Paulo Lobo

Sold for $725,000 as a yearling, Cusp is a son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City of Light out of Swingit, previously the dam of Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Golden Rod (G2) winner Travel Column as well Neolithic, who placed third in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Dubai World Cup (G1) and Woodward (G1) on his way to earning nearly $2.3 million. With a classy pedigree and a bullet-packed work tab in tow, Cusp is well worth watching.

No. 5 Bayou Spirit

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Mor Spirit–Beautiful Daniele, by A.P. Indy

Purchase price: $240,000

Trainer: Brian Lynch

A son of Metropolitan Handicap (G1) hero Mor Spirit, Bayou Spirit was produced by the A.P. Indy mare Beautiful Daniele, whose previous foals include Del Mar Juvenile Turf and Zuma Beach winner King of Speed plus Indian Summer and Prairie Gold Juvenile winner Bodenheimer. Bayou Spirit clocked a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds at Churchill Downs last Saturday and has every chance to factor for trainer Brian Lynch, a 14 percent winner with first-time starters, according to Brisnet stats.

No. 11 Paddington

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Curlin–Sea Island, by Pulpit

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Brad Cox

Paddington has shown speed in the mornings for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox. On April 17 at Keeneland, he traveled a bullet half-mile in 46.8 seconds. And last Sunday, the chestnut colt clocked five furlongs from the Churchill Downs starting gate in 1:00.8. As a son of Curlin out of Gazelle (G1) runner-up Sea Island, Paddington is bred to run long, so sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on debut is unlikely to be his strong suit. But watch out down the road, because Paddington might develop into something special.

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