Prospect Watch: Baffert unleashes Concert Tour, Hozier

Prospect Watch: Baffert unleashes Concert Tour, Hozier
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

It might seem like the middle of January is too late for a Kentucky Derby contender to debut. But it really is not — just think back to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, whose first start came on Feb. 18.

If any trainer can get a horse ready to win the Derby off a few months and a handful of races, it’s Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame trainer has saddled half a dozen Derby winners (Justify included), and his roster of 2021 Derby contenders is led by the undefeated Sham (G3) winner, Life Is Good.

Baffert will unveil two more exciting sophomores on Friday at Santa Anita. Let’s review the credentials of these two promising youngsters plus four other first-time starters entered to race this week:

Friday 

Santa Anita Race 4: Maiden special weight (6 furlongs, 5:05 p.m. ET)

#4 Concert Tour

A son of Street Sense out of a mare by three-time leading sire Tapit, Concert Tour is bred top and bottom to excel over classic distances. A Gary and Mary West homebred trained by Baffert, Concert Tour has put together a solid work tab at Santa Anita, highlighted by a bullet 6 furlongs in 1:13 on Jan. 1. Jockey Joel Rosario has gone 2-for-5 (40 percent) teaming up with Baffert in the last 60 days, and Baffert strikes at a lofty 37 percent rate debuting runners in maiden special weights, so ignore Concert Tour at your own risk.

#5 Hozier

The second Baffert trainee boasts a pedigree that combines speed with stamina. Sire Pioneerof the Nile finished second in the Kentucky Derby and sired Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, while dam Merry Meadow (a daughter of elite sprinter/miler Henny Hughes) was a four-time graded stakes-winning sprinter. Sold for $625,000 as a yearling, Hozier has compiled an even more impressive work tab than Concert Tour, most notably rocketing 5 furlongs from the Santa Anita starting gate in a bullet :59 2/5. If he flashes this degree of speed on Friday, he’ll be tough to catch.

#6 Mr. Impossible

A son of capable sprinter/miler Munnings, who sires 15 percent debut winners, Mr. Impossible was produced by Qaraaba, winner of the Robert J. Frankel (G3) and the dam of graded stakes winners Harvest Moon and Californiagoldrush. There’s a fair amount of turf breeding in Mr. Impossible’s pedigree, so it’s possible he won’t fire his absolute best shot while debuting on dirt. But trainer Simon Callaghan strikes at a 21 percent rate with first-time starters, and Mr. Impossible has put together a solid work tab at Santa Anita. So a respectable effort should be in the offing regardless of which surface Mr. Impossible proves to prefer.

Saturday 

Fair Grounds Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 2:29 p.m. ET)

#3 Constituency

I wouldn’t necessarily expect a peak effort from Constituency on debut, considering trainer Dallas Stewart strikes at only an 8 percent rate with first-time starters. But down the road, you had better watch out for this beautifully bred colt. A son of Candy Ride out of the stakes-placed Tiznow mare Zermatt, Constituency sold for a hefty $650,000 as a yearling and will debut for the high-profile partnership of CHC Inc (China Horse Club) and WinStar Farm. His work tab isn’t particularly flashy, but Constituency has the pedigree to improve with distance and maturity. No matter how he performs on Saturday, he’s eligible to improve down the road.

#7 Ottothelegend

Twirling Candy won the Malibu (G1) on dirt, Dubai Sky nabbed the Spiral (G3) on synthetic, and Ethnic Dance prevailed in the Del Mar Derby (G2) on turf. It’s safe to say House of Danzing has been a productive and versatile broodmare, so expectations are bound to be high for her latest foal, Ottothelegend.

A son of champion juvenile and successful sire Uncle Mo, Ottothelegend is a Three Chimneys Farm homebred conditioned by Steve Asmussen. The bay colt has shown serious speed in the mornings, most recently breezing a bullet 5 furlongs from the Fair Grounds starting gate in :59 1/5. Ottothelegend is an obvious threat to win on debut and improve with maturity, though it’s surprising to note Asmussen has gone only 2-for-28 (7 percent) saddling 3-year-old first-time starters at Fair Grounds since 2018.

#8 Warrant

From top to bottom, Warrant is bred to be a flat-out solid racehorse. A son of Florida Derby (G1) winner and successful young stallion Constitution (who sires 19 percent debut winners), Warrant was produced by the First Samurai mare Whisper Number, whose previous foals include Barbara Fritchie (G2) winner Ms Locust Point. Only time will tell whether Warrant can achieve the same success as his immediate relatives, but he’s been training forwardly at Fair Grounds under the care of Brad Cox, clocking a swift 5 furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 on Jan. 2. A homebred racing for Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Warrant can be a player in his first run under colors.

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