You know the 2-year-old racing action is heating up when Bob Baffert has horses in the entries.
Last year, the Hall of Fame trainer – known for his prowess at saddling ready-to-win juveniles – didn’t debut a two-year-old until Aug. 1 at the Del Mar summer meet. But this year, Baffert is gearing up his juveniles a bit earlier, with a pair of fillies entered to race on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Let’s examine the Baffert trainees, plus a couple of other promising first-time starters entered at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs Race 2: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 1:14 p.m. EDT)
When the gates open for Friday’s second race at Churchill Downs, don’t be surprised if speedometers reveal Speedometer to be a very fleet filly. Her work tab might not be overly flashy, but her pedigree is geared toward success from an early age. Speedometer is a daughter of Tapit, a three-time leadings sire responsible for 15 percent winners from first-time starters. Furthermore, Speedometer was produced by the City Zip mare Speedinthruthecity, a graded stakes-placed juvenile who won multiple sprint stakes at Churchill.
Speedinthruthecity already has achieved noteworthy success as a broodmare. Her first foal, Nitrous, is a three-time stakes-winning son of Tapit who placed third in Saratoga’s Hopeful (G1) as a 2-year-old. Sprinting is what Nitrous does best, and if Speedometer has inherited half the speed of her full brother, she’ll be a nice filly.
#8 Hazy Command
After scratching from a maiden sprint at Churchill last week, Hazy Command is back in the entries for ultra-hot trainer Tom Amoss, who has gone 13-for-38 (34 percent) this meet. Amoss also wins at a 22 percent rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights, and since Hazy Command has been cranking out fast workouts (including a couple of :59-and-change five-furlong moves), there is no reason to think she will not fire a big shot on debut.
Certainly her pedigree is worthy of attention. Though she sold for only $75,000 as a yearling, Hazy Command is bred to be a high-class prospect. Sire Mastery went undefeated in four starts, including a runaway victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), while dam Justasprinkle has foaled Portales (a five-time stakes winner) and Justalittlesmoke (victorious in a dozen stakes).
For good measure, Hazy Command will be ridden by James Graham, a 38 percent winner when teaming up with Amoss. It’s easy to see why Hazy Command is the 5-2 morning line favorite for Friday’s maiden sprint.
Santa Anita Race 2: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 4:30 p.m. EDT)
The first of the two Baffert trainees is Censorship, who sold for $300,000 in March. It’s interesting to see the chestnut filly debuting in the first half of the year, considering she is bred top and bottom to improve with maturity and thrive running long. Sire Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes (G1) plus a Cigar Mile (G1) and two renewals of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), while dam La Grange is a daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, best known for siring an abundance of long-winded classic types.
On the other hand, La Grange was an early-maturing sprinter who won the six-furlong Cinderella Stakes as a juvenile, in addition to placing second in the Sorrento Stakes (G2). If Censorship takes after her dam, perhaps she can outrun the rest of her pedigree and factor on debut. Don’t forget, she has shown speed in the mornings, most recently clocking five furlongs in :59 4/5 from the Santa Anita starting gate. For good measure, Santa Anita’s leading jockey, Flavien Prat, is named to ride.
As a daughter of capable sprinter/miler Munnings out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, Eda boasts a pedigree combining speed with stamina. This blend was evidently popular at auction, as Eda brought a final bid of $550,000 when sold back in March.
Since then, Eda has trained forwardly for Baffert. Her last four workouts have come in company with Censorship, including five furlongs from the Santa Anita starting gate in :59 4/5 on Monday. Munnings sires 15 percent winners from first-time starters, and jockey Abel Cedillo has won at a 22 percent rate when teaming up with Baffert over the last two months, so count out this well-bred filly at your own risk.