Prospect Watch: 8 promising debuts at 4 tracks

Prospect Watch: 8 promising debuts at 4 tracks
Photo: NYRA

June is kicking off in a big way as far as high-quality maiden special weights are concerned. Churchill Downs, Belmont Park and Gulfstream Park all have competitive contests on tap, and the fields are loaded with well-bred first-time starters.

Let’s check out the entries and highlight eight of the most notable new names, including a half-sister to dual Grade 1 winner Matareya.


Churchill Downs race 1: Maiden special weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:00 p.m. EDT)

No. 3 Call Me Andy

2-year-old colt

Pedigree: Midshipman–Di’s Delight, by French Deputy

Purchase price: $260,000

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Acquired for $260,000 as a yearling, Call Me Andy hails from a productive family. The son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old male Midshipman was produced by Di’s Delight, previously the dam of Rodeo Drive (G1) winner Mirth and Ruffian (G2) heroine Vault. Call Me Andy breezed a quick half-mile from the Churchill Downs starting gate in 47 4/5 seconds last week and can’t be dismissed from win consideration.

No. 6 Card Trick

2-year-old colt

Pedigree: Liam’s Map–Game Factor, by The Factor

Purchase price: $180,000

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

The first of two juveniles in this field conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is Card Trick. The son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map enters off a pair of fast half-mile workouts from the Keeneland starting gate, including a recent bullet exercise in 47.2 seconds. It appears Card Trick has the speed to factor on debut.

No. 7 Higgins Boat

2-year-old colt

Pedigree: Omaha Beach–Betty Draper, by Street Cry

Purchase price: $325,000

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Since 2021, trainer Tom Amoss has gone 10-for-26 (38 percent) debuting 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs. That bodes well for Higgins Boat, a son of the versatile and speedy three-time Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach. The first two U.S. starters sired by Omaha Beach have visited the winner’s circle, and Higgins Boat has shown talent with a series of fast half-mile workouts at Keeneland, including two bullet exercises. Don’t be surprised if this $325,000 yearling purchase takes home top honors.

No. 8 Hailstorm

2-year-old colt

Pedigree: Gun Runner–Happy Mesa, by Sky Mesa

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

The second Asmussen trainee in this field is Hailstorm, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred son of 2017 horse of the year Gun Runner out of two-time stakes winner Happy Mesa. Gun Runner is an abundantly successful young stallion who sires 17 percent winners from first-time starters, according to Brisnet stats, and Hailstorm enters off an encouraging work tab at Churchill Downs. So by every metric, Hailstorm has the credentials to challenge for victory. The fact Asmussen has gone 3-for-6 debuting juveniles at Churchill Downs this spring adds to the appeal.


Belmont Park race 1: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 1:00 p.m.)

No. 2 Permed

2-year-old filly

Pedigree: Street Boss–Curled, by Curlin

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

There’s a lot of class in the pedigree of Permed. Her sire is two-time Grade 1-winning sprinter Street Boss, who is in turn a son of Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Street Cry, renowned as the sire of horse of the year Zenyatta and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. Meanwhile, Permed’s dam is Curled, a daughter of two-time horse of the year and elite sire Curlin out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf third-place finisher Sweet Cat. The latter is a daughter of champion and two-time leading North American sire Kitten’s Joy.

If Permed has inherited even a fraction of the talent belonging to her ancestors, this Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners homebred can produce a winning debut for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Irad Ortiz Jr. and Todd Pletcher.

Gulfstream Park race 2: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 1:21 p.m.)

No. 1 Ash Wednesday

2-year-old filly

Pedigree: Mohaymen–Bold Print, by Read the Footnotes

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

A daughter of four-time Grade 2 winner and accomplished juvenile Mohaymen, Ash Wednesday has posted seven timed workouts in Florida, capped off by half a mile from the Gulfstream Park starting gate in 49 1/5 seconds. The gray filly is a logical candidate to strike on debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, a 20 percent winner with first-time starters this year.


Churchill Downs race 11: Maiden special weight (seven furlongs, 5:58 p.m.)

No. 2 Methodology

3-year-old filly

Pedigree: Uncle Mo–Innovative Idea, by Bernardini

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Brad Cox

Methodology is a Godolphin homebred trained by Brad Cox and produced by the Bernardini mare Innovative Idea. If that description sounds familiar, that’s because it applies not only to Methodology but also to Matareya, the Pioneerof the Nile filly who won the 2022 Acorn (G1) and 2023 Derby City Distaff (G1). Matareya has set a high bar for her younger half-sister to follow, but Methodology (a daughter of champion and accomplished sire Uncle Mo) enters off a bullet five-furlong workout at Keeneland and might well be a future stakes winner in the making.

Monmouth Park race 2: Maiden special weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 1:07 p.m.)

No. 5 Omaha Girl

2-year-old filly

Pedigree: Omaha Beach–Anchorage, by Tapit

Purchase price: $400,000

Trainer: Jorge Delgado

Another promising Omaha Beach runner debuting this week is Omaha Girl, who sold for $400,000 as a yearling. The chestnut filly was produced by Anchorage, previously the dam of W. L. McKnight (G3) winner Abaan and Ben Ali (G3) runner-up Chip Leader. Trainer Jorge Delgado has gone 6-for-17 (35 percent) to start the Monmouth meet and jockey Samy Camacho has gone 9-for-40 (23 percent), so it’s safe to say Omaha Girl has red-hot connections in her corner. She looks ready to roll.

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