Prospect Watch: Chimney Rock leads loaded state-bred stakes

By Keeler Johnson/Special to HRN
December 12, 2019 09:00am

One week after up-and-coming Kentucky Derby contenders vied for national attention in the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), lightly-raced juveniles of a different sort will take the stage Saturday in a trio of stakes races across the country.

The $500,000 New York Stallion Stakes for New York-breds at Aqueduct, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes for Louisiana-breds at Fair Grounds, and the $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for California-bred fillies at Los Alamitos will provide state-breds with an opportunity to compete for lucrative purses.

Let’s highlight five of the most promising prospects entered in these races:

Aqueduct Race 8: New York Stallion Series Stakes’ Great White Way (7 furlongs)

#8 Captain Bombastic

Jeremiah Englehart’s promising colt, Captain Bombastic, is 2-for-2 so far, having broken his maiden easily before battling to a hard-fought score in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow Stakes, with both starts at Belmont Park.

From a Brisnet and Beyer figure perspective, Captain Bombastic isn’t the fastest horse in this field, having some ground to cover on the likely favorite. But you have to admire the resilience Captain Bombastic displayed to hold off stakes winner Cleon Jones in the Sleepy Hollow, and cutting back to seven furlongs could potentially produce improvement from this son of Forty Tales. A bullet half-mile workout on Dec. 7 signals his readiness, so dismiss this improving colt at your own risk.

#13 Dream Bigger

With a quartet of 91-plus Brisnet Speed Ratings under his belt, Dream Bigger looms as the fastest horse on paper in the Great White Way. Conditioned by Rudy Rodriguez, Dream Bigger was beaten in his first two starts, but he was facing good company — the winner of his debut at Saratoga was Tiz the Law, subsequent winner of the Champagne Stakes (G1).

Dream Bigger actually broke his maiden when stepping up in class, dominating the New York Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes by 10 ¾ lengths. He then proved a comfortable winner of the Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct, digging down to hold off a late-running rival while posting an eye-catching 99 Brisnet figure.

Stretching out to seven furlongs and breaking from post 13 will be new challenges for Dream Bigger to overcome, but this $205,000 auction purchase has the pedigree to handle marginally longer distances and will surely use his tactical speed to work out a clean trip.

Fair Grounds Race 8: Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes (6 furlongs)

#2 Binding Agreement

Although Bind never won a stakes race, he loved Fair Grounds, winning three of his four starts over the New Orleans oval. He was especially brilliant in his debut on Feb. 19, 2011, clocking six furlongs in 1:08.80 to score by 9 ½ lengths.

So far, Binding Agreement seems poised to follow in his sire’s hoofprints. Trained by Al Stall Jr., this promising gelding brought back memories of Bind when dominating his debut on Nov. 28 at Fair Grounds, winning a 5 ½-furlong maiden race by 7 ¾ lengths.

Binding Agreement will be running back on short rest, but hot jockey Colby Hernandez retains the mount, and Stall is winning at a 20% rate to start the meet. The six-furlong distance of the Juvenile Stakes shouldn’t be a challenge, and with 1 ½-mile Hollywood Turf Cup (G1) winner Sligo Bay adding some stamina to the bottom half of Binding Agreement’s pedigree, this gelding might be capable of stretching out even farther down the road.

#7 Chimney Rock

The 8-5 morning line favorite needs no introduction, as he’s already finished second three times in stakes company, most notably when beaten less than a length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

A son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, Chimney Rock is bred for grass, though he wasn’t disgraced when finishing third on dirt in his June 21 debut at Belmont Park. Talent alone might carry Chimney Rock to victory while switching surfaces for the Juvenile Stakes, and you can bet hot jockey Florent Geroux (4-for-9 to start the meet) will deliver a good ride for trainer Mike Maker.

Los Alamitos Race 8: Soviet Problem Stakes (1 mile)

#8 Been Studying Her

Aside from a loss in the Chandelier Stakes (G1) — in which she dueled for the lead with three-time Grade 1 winner Bast — Been Studying Her has never tasted defeat, besting fellow California-breds in both the Generous Portion Stakes and the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes. Conditioned by Jerry Hollendorfer, this daughter of capable sprinter Fast Anna is 3-for-3 running seven furlongs or less, but it’s possible she’s inherited some stamina from her stoutly-bred dam sire, Kitten’s Joy.

The Soviet Problem Stakes looks like a perfect opportunity for Been Studying Her to give two turns another try. She’s a class standout on paper and should be tough to beat, especially with jockey Drayden Van Dyke (5-for-7 to start the meet) in the saddle.


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