A son of Breeders’ Cup champion Life Is Sweet, a young turf runner sired by acclaimed stallion Galileo, a million-dollar youngster trained by Bob Baffert … . As usual, there are plenty of promising 2-year-olds entered to race at Saratoga and Del Mar this Saturday.
Let’s review a half-dozen of the most exciting prospects slated to debut:
Saturday, Aug. 8
Saratoga Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:26 p.m. ET)
Sold for $425,000 as a weanling, Mutasaabeq is bred for speed, brilliance and early maturity. A son of 2019 leading sire Into Mischief out of the Scat Daddy mare Downside Scenario, Mutassabeq has been posting eye-catching workouts at Saratoga for hot trainer Todd Pletcher, culminating with a bullet half-mile from the starting gate in :46 2/5 last Saturday. Pletcher has long had a reputation for bringing ready-to-win 2-year-olds to Saratoga — he went 7-for-31 (23 percent) with juvenile first-time starters last summer — and this Shadwell Stable runner looks ready to roll with Luis Saez in the saddle.
Saratoga Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:02 p.m. ET)
#4 Hidden Enemy
Trainer Steve Asmussen doesn’t debut 2-year-olds on turf very often, but Hidden Enemy will be a notable exception, and it’s easy to understand why. A son of European superstar sire Galileo — who has sired more Grade/Group 1 winners than any other stallion in history — Hidden Enemy was produced by the Empire Maker mare Acoma, a four-time graded stakes winner on turf who was sufficiently versatile to win graded stakes on dirt and synthetic tracks as well.
Since the progeny of Galileo excel almost exclusively on grass, Hidden Enemy seems well-spotted debuting on the lawn. He’s already taken a couple of spins over the local turf course, breezing five furlongs in 1:03 last Sunday, so this $150,000 yearling purchase yearling purchase bears watching on debut.
Del Mar Race 10: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 9:30 p.m. ET)
#4 Superman Shaq
As a son of 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford out of the Henny Hughes mare Drumette, it’s clear why Superman Shaq sold for $550,000 earlier this year. The chestnut colt is a half-brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl and also 2020 Risen Star (G2) winner Mr. Monomoy, giving Superman Shaq the pedigree to be an elite runner.
Superman Shaq’s work tab isn’t the flashiest in Saturday’s field, but he did show some speed last Sunday at Del Mar, clocking five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 3/5. Owned by Gary Barber, Superman Shaq will debut for the high-percentage trainer/jockey combo of Peter Miller and Flavien Prat, who have teamed up to win at a 37 percent rate over the last 60 days. It’s too early to say if Superman Shaq can achieve the same success as his illustrious half-siblings, but from a pedigree perspective alone, he warrants watching.
In 2009, Life Is Sweet produced a strong late rally to upset the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1), demonstrating her ability to excel at the highest level of the sport. Only time will tell if her son Waspirant will ascend to similar heights, but he certainly has the pedigree to be a talented runner for hot trainer John Shirreffs.
A son of 2012 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags, Waspirant has been breezing like clockwork since the beginning of May, so fitness shouldn’t be an issue — he’s got 14 workouts under his belt, including a quartet of five-furlong moves since the middle of July. Considering Union Rags was a Grade 1-winning juvenile, and Life Is Sweet is a full sister to 2004 champion 2-year-old filly Sweet Catomine, Waspirant has the breeding to be an early-maturing youngster capable of firing a strong effort on debut.
A son of champion sprinter Runhappy, who is siring 14 percent debut winners, Drivehappy has shown some speed in the mornings for trainer Jeff Bonde, most notably clocking a bullet half-mile from the Del Mar starting gate in :47 1/5 on July 23. Produced by the Forestry mare Entrustment, a talented turf mare who ran second in the Senorita (G2) and fourth by a head in the American Oaks (G1), Drivehappy will debut with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the saddle and could turn out to be any kind. From a pedigree perspective, there’s no telling what distance and/or surface Drivehappy will ultimately prefer.
Bob Baffert has been hot at Del Mar, going 5-for-16 (31 percent) to start the meet, and he figures to pick up another win on Saturday courtesy of the exciting Spielberg. Sold for $1 million as a yearling, this son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags has been training up a storm in preparation for his debut, recording an impressive series of rapid workouts at Los Alamitos and Del Mar.
Quick enough to blaze a half-mile from the starting gate in :46 1/5, but stout enough to traverse six furlongs from the gate in 1:12 3/5, Spielberg was produced by the Smarty Strike mare Miss Squeal, a half-sister to stakes winners Outplay, Raconteur, and Katerbug. Drayden Van Dyke will climb aboard, and anything less than a victory from Spielberg will come as a surprise.