Prospect Watch: Baffert, Pletcher send out pricey 2-year-olds

By Keeler Johnson, Special to HRN
September 05, 2019 10:45am

The summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga might be in the books, but there’s never a dull moment in this sport, especially not as the 2-year-olds continue emerging across the country.

Racing on the California and New York circuits will shift to Los Alamitos and Belmont Park this week, and a handful of well-bred 2-year-olds are scheduled to debut at both tracks. With the 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby scheduled to kick off later this month, our quest to identify promising Triple Crown prospects is just beginning.

Let’s take a look at the action from coast to coast, stopping along the way at Kentucky Downs to check out a few well-bred grass runners:
 
Friday, September 6

Los Alamitos Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 ½ furlongs)

#1 Dodger

One of two juveniles in this race conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Dodger figures to be the less heralded of the pair. His work tab isn’t particularly eye-catching, and he sold for $140,000 as a 2-year-old in training. But there might still be some potential here, as Dodger is a half-brother to the two-time stakes-winning sprinter Devereux, and sire Bayern won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Dodger also looked OK last week when breezing in company with stablemate Mo Hawk, and in the past Dodger has breezed alongside his graded stakes-winning stablemates American Anthem and Bast.

#4 Moon Mischief

A half-brother to recent Del Mar Derby (G2) winner Nolde, Moon Mischief is a son of top stallion Into Mischief out of the graded stakes-placed Dixie Union mare Sister Moon. This is a pedigree that combines speed and stamina, suggesting Moon Mischief could be a versatile sort. Conditioned by John Sadler for Jerry Moss, of Zenyatta fame, Moon Mischief wrapped up his preparations with a sharp half-mile move at Del Mar last week (he went :47 4/5 from the starting gate) and will be ridden by jockey Jorge Velez. Because Velez is an apprentice, Moon Mischief will carry 117 pounds, five fewer than his rivals.

#6 Mo Hawk

Seven years ago, Baffert saddled the undefeated Princess Arabella to win the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks by eight widening lengths. Although Princess Arabella never ran again, she’s proven successful as a broodmare, producing the graded stakes-placed Ulele and the two-time winner Tapella. On Friday, Baffert will saddle Princess Arabella’s young colt Mo Hawk, an eagerly anticipated runner who sold for $925,000 as a yearling. A son of champion juvenile and successful sire Uncle Mo, Mo Hawk has been firing off fast workouts at Del Mar this summer, including a half-mile in :47.80 on August 31 when going in company with Dodger. Expect Mo Hawk to be clearly favored in this Friday maiden race.
 
Saturday, September 7

Belmont Park Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (6 ½ furlongs)

#4 Democratic Values

As a half-brother to a pair of juvenile winners, there’s a chance Democratic Values will demonstrate the early maturity necessary to win on debut. But this $475,000 yearling purchase figures to do his best running down the road, when races are longer and he can put his stamina-oriented pedigree to good use. As a son of champion Honor Code (by 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy) out of a mare by Dixie Union (the sire of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags), classic stamina abounds in Democratic Values’ pedigree. Trained by Chad Brown for Klaravich Stables, this exciting prospect will have Javier Castellano in the saddle for Saturday’s sprint.

#7 Alpha Sixty Six

The 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map ranks among the best horses trained by Todd Pletcher in recent years, and on Saturday Pletcher will unveil Alpha Sixty Six, a promising juvenile from Liam’s Map’s first crop of foals. Purchased for $400,000 as a yearling by Paul Pompa Jr., Alpha Sixty Six has demonstrated plenty of speed in morning workouts. Since August 19, he’s thrown down five furlongs in 1:00 1/5, four furlongs from the starting gate in :47 4/5, and five furlongs in :59 3/5. Produced from the stakes-placed Giant’s Causeway mare Giant Sensation, Alpha Sixty Six will be guided in his debut by the experienced hands of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

Kentucky Downs Race 6: Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes (6 ½ furlongs)

#4 Cambria

The second foal out of graded stakes winner Teen Pauline, Cambria is a Stonestreet Stables homebred conditioned by Wesley Ward. The daughter of Speightstown is 2-for-2 sprinting over the synthetic Tapeta track at Presque Isle Downs and will tackle grass for the first time on Saturday, a positive move considering Ward strikes at a 26% rate with such runners. In her debut, Cambria defeated the next-out winner and future stakes-placed filly Copper Gem, so although she’s stepping up in class at Kentucky Downs, Cambria has already faced quality competition.

#5 Souper Dormy

Purchased for $400,000 as a yearling, this son of Into Mischief was ready to win on debut for trainer Mark Casse, rallying to prevail by a nose sprinting 5 ½ furlongs at Ellis Park. Runner-up Shippingport came right back to break his own maiden, so Souper Dormy looks like a classy sort ready to step up. Sprinting on turf should be right up Souper Dormy’s alley because his dam, Truly Blushed, won a pair of turf sprint stakes races during her productive career.

#7 Invader

A full brother to 2018 Summer Stakes (G1) winner Fog of War, Invader didn’t show much when finishing sixth in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Belmont on July 6, but the son of War Front subsequently received some time off from serious training and might show more life second time out. Ward often works magic with young turf sprinters, so the fact that he’s tossing this $500,000 yearling purchase straight into a stakes race suggests there might be more to Invader than first meets the eye.

 

Mo Hawk  |  Dodger  |  Souper Dormy  |  Invader  |  Cambria
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