One week after Charlatan drew praise for a gutsy runner-up effort in the Saudi Cup, his half-brother Bennyfromthebronx will debut in a high-profile maiden race on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Bennyfromthebronx is one of several promising 3-year-olds set to debut at tracks across the country this week. Let’s review a half-dozen of the most notable names:
Aqueduct Race 5: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 3:25 p.m. ET)
#4 Royal Realm
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens thought enough of Royal Realm to make the $250,000 yearling a Triple Crown nominee, which makes sense when you review the colt’s promising pedigree. A son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Empire Maker, Royal Realm was produced by the unraced mare Zelda Rose, a daughter of 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Handicap (G3) winner Niagara Causeway.
This is a pedigree strongly geared toward success over classic distances, so it’s not a stretch to envision Royal Realm emulating his sire with a victory in the Belmont Stakes. Royal Realm has shown promise in the mornings, but he might need to stretch out around two turns before delivering his best effort.
#7 Gold Bear
It’s certainly possible Gold Bear will prevail in his debut dashing six furlongs — he’s shown speed in the mornings for hot trainer Todd Pletcher (a 22 percent winner with first-time starters), and Aqueduct’s leading jockey Kendrick Carmouche is slated to ride. Together, Pletcher and Karmouche have gone 6-for-14 (43 percent) over the last two months.
But classic distances are bound to be Gold Bear’s true forte. Sire Pioneerof the Nile has achieved everlasting renown thanks to his Triple Crown-winning son American Pharoah, while dam Rose to Gold was a four-time stakes-winning router with victories in the Honeybee (G3) and Fantasy (G3) among her career highlights.
In short, Gold Bear has the potential to run well on Friday and keep improving with distance and maturity, which is exactly what you want to see from a promising Triple Crown nominee.
Gulfstream Park Race 5: Maiden special weight (1 mile, 1:24 p.m. ET)
Although Bennyfromthebronx sold for a respectable $300,000 as a yearling, it’s safe to assume he would bring a much higher price if sold today. A son of three-time leading sire Tapit, Bennyfromthebronx was produced by the three-time Grade 1-placed mare Authenticity, best known as the dam of Malibu (G1) winner and Saudi Cup runner-up Charlatan.
Charlatan didn’t debut until well after Bennyfromthebronx had gone through the auction ring, which makes the latter’s $300,000 purchase price look like a steal. Bennyfromthebronx has been training strongly at Payson Park for trainer Chad Brown, posting a couple of bullet half-miles highlighted by a rapid :48 3/5 from the starting gate on Feb. 13. With three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz aboard, Bennyfromthebronx appears poised to fire a big shot on debut.
Oaklawn Park Race 9: Maiden special weight (6 furlongs, 5:25 p.m. ET)
Sprinting on dirt is unlikely to be a strong suit for Reserve. After all, he’s a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Tiznow (known for passing on stamina) out of the Distorted Humor mare Abtasaamah. This makes Reserve a half-brother to Elsa, a capable turf performer who counted the one-mile Jimmy Durante (G3) as her greatest triumph.
But Reserve has nevertheless shown speed in the mornings at Oaklawn Park, putting together a steady string of quick half-mile workouts for trainer Ron Moquett. This $120,000 yearling is a May foal bred to improve with maturity, but don’t be shocked if Reserve runs well on Saturday, with even better to follow in the future.
A Triple Crown nominee conditioned by D. Wayne Lukas, My Favorite Uncle is bred top and bottom to be an early-maturing star. Sire Uncle Mo was voted champion 2-year-old male after winning the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and dam Storm Song nabbed a filly championship after dominating the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Lukas isn’t a frequent winner with first-time starters, saddling his last debut winner in 2015. But on pedigree alone, My Favorite Uncle is worth following, at least until we get a clearer picture of how much talent he’s inherited from his champion parents.
Speed is bound to be the name of the game for Lazaretto, who has plenty of high-profile sprinters in his immediate pedigree. A son of King’s Bishop (G1) winner Hard Spun, Lazaretto was produced by the three-time stakes-winning sprinter Mother Ruth, who is in turn a daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown. Throw in the fact that Mother Ruth already has foaled Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) winner Yuvetsi, and it’s clear Lazaretto is bred for speed.
Whether Lazaretto will run to his pedigree right out of the gate is unclear. High-percentage trainer Saffie Joseph strikes at just a 12 percent rate with first-time starters, suggesting Lazaretto will benefit from getting a race under his belt. But keep an eye on Lazaretto down the road — he’s eligible to develop into a pretty special sprinter.