Prospect Watch: Cox unveils another Triple Crown nominee

Prospect Watch: Cox unveils another Triple Crown nominee
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

A Triple Crown nominee trained by Brad Cox is among the many promising 3-year-old colts and geldings debuting at racetracks across the country this week.

I'm highlighting seven of the best-bred names in this week’s edition of Prospect Watch.

Entries and results: Oaklawn | Turfway| Fair Grounds | Aqueduct


Oaklawn race 7: Maiden special weight (one mile, 4:50 p.m. EDT)

No. 1 Humor Me Now

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Alternation–Empressive Lady, by Empire Maker

Purchase price: $250,000

Trainer: Brad Cox

It’s fitting to see Humor Me Now debuting at Oaklawn, where his sire Alternation won the 2012 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and Razorback Handicap (G3). Dam Empressive Lady has foaled seven winners from seven starters, and Humor Me Now has turned in a few bullet workouts at the Churchill Downs training track, including a half-mile from the starting gate in 47.4 seconds. So look for Humor Me Now to challenge for victory on debut.


Turfway Park race 1: Maiden special weight (six furlongs on Tapeta, 12:45 p.m.)

No. 6 Lil’ Fury

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Honor Code–Icon Project, by Empire Maker

Purchase price: $75,000

Trainer: Victoria Oliver

Lil’ Fury is a 20-1 long shot to win his debut, perhaps because trainer Victoria Oliver strikes at a modest 7 percent rate with first-time starters. But there’s a lot of class in Lil’ Fury’s pedigree, so he’s worth watching in the long run. As a son of late-maturing champion older dirt male Honor Code out of Personal Ensign (G1) winner Icon Project, Lil’ Fury is bred top and bottom to improve with maturity and thrive running long. We might see his best if he stretches out on dirt down the road.

Fair Grounds race 2: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 1:30 p.m.)

No. 2 Billy Jack

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Uncle Mo–C. S. Royce, by Unbridled’s Song

Purchase price: $75,000

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Billy Jack has put together an eye-catching work tab at Fair Grounds. Half a mile from the starting gate in 47.8 seconds on Feb. 1… the same conditions in 48.4 seconds on Feb. 8… a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.4 on Feb. 14… followed by an identical bullet exercise on Feb. 21. A son of champion juvenile and successful sire Uncle Mo out of C. S. Royce (the dam of Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine plus stakes winners Sweeping Paddy and C. S. Incharge), Billy Jack is bred like a star and looks ready to challenge on debut. The only concern is the fact he scratched from a March 2 maiden special weight at Fair Grounds and wound up with a nearly three-week gap in his work tab.

No. 4 Castlewarden

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Into Mischief–Calm Water, by Empire Maker

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Brad Cox

One of the best-bred horses debuting this week is Triple Crown nominee Castlewarden, a son of four-time leading North American sire Into Mischief out of Calm Water, whose previous foals include the brilliant Pat O’Brien (G2) winner Laurel River. A Juddmonte homebred, Castlewarden has been cranking out fast workouts with regularity at Fair Grounds (including five furlongs from the starting gate in 59 seconds) and has hot jockey Florent Geroux named to ride. All signs suggest Castlewarden is sitting on a winning run.

No. 6 Harbour Bridge

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: Justify–Tiger Moth, by Street Sense

Purchase price: $675,000

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Sold for the hefty sum of $675,000 as a yearling, Harbour Bridge is a son of Triple Crown winner Justify out of Tiger Moth, winner of the Groupie Doll (G3) and Houston Ladies Classic (G3) during a long career. Harbour Bridge breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.6 at Fair Grounds earlier this month and has the pedigree to develop in a positive direction.

Aqueduct race 6: Maiden special weight (one mile, 3:55 p.m.)

No. 6 First Money

3-year-old colt

Pedigree: City of Light–Brilliant Jewel, by A.P. Indy

Purchase price: $180,000

Trainer: Brad Cox

Trainer Brad Cox has gone 5-for-13 (38 percent) at Aqueduct since the start of the year, a stat that bodes well for First Money. The son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner City of Light has put together a steady string of workouts over the Belmont Park training track, including half a mile from the starting gate in 48.00 seconds, so he’s eligible to fire a strong shot on debut. His dam is the A.P. Indy mare Brilliant Jewel, so the miler speed of City of Light is balanced by the renowned stamina of A.P. Indy, offering potential for success over a variety of distances.

No. 9 Huntington

3-year-old gelding

Pedigree: Uncle Mo–Haunted Heroine, by Ghostzapper

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Rob Atras

Huntington brings a classy pedigree to his debut. He’s a son of champion and successful sire Uncle Mo out of Haunted Heroine, a two-time stakes winner best known for foaling Santa Anita Mathis Mile (G2) winner and Woodward (G1) runner-up Law Professor. Huntington showed speed when breezing half a mile from the Belmont Park training track starting gate in 47.66 seconds, so don’t dismiss this promising gelding from win consideration.

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