Prospect Watch: Garth's giving it another go at Del Mar

By Keeler Johnson/Special to HRN
November 21, 2019 09:29am

Remember Garth? One of the most heralded prospects of the summer racing season at Del Mar was a disappointment during his initial two-race campaign. But the son of Into Mischief had excuses for his shortcomings, and on Saturday he’ll attempt to deliver on his potential in six-furlong maiden dash at Del Mar.

Garth is one of seven promising youngsters that have caught my attention in the entries this week. Who are the others? Let’s dig in and review:

Friday

Churchill Downs Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles)

#1 Forced Family Fun

It’s easy to see why Forced Family Fun sold for $450,000 as a yearling. The dark bay filly is a daughter of Uncle Mo out of the Forest Wildcat mare Be My Prospect, who has already achieved noteworthy success as a broodmare. Six of Be My Prospect’s seven starters have won races, including the stakes winner Cat Burglar, who placed in five graded stakes events during his lengthy career.

Forced Family Fun has shown some speed during morning workouts at Keeneland, breezing a half mile from the starting gate in :47 flat on Oct. 25. Trainer Ben Colebrook is striking at a 20% rate during the current Churchill Downs meet, and leading jockey Corey Lanerie has accepted the mount. There’s plenty to like about Forced Family Fun, though the rail draw is a concern.

Saturday

Aqueduct Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles)

#1 Telephone Talker

Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Wicked Strong fired off a solid 92 Brisnet Speed Rating when finishing second in his debut on dirt at Keeneland. A homebred racing for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Telephone Talker will stretch out in distance and switch to grass on Saturday. This could be a positive change because Telephone Talker’s dam — Kathern’s Kitten — is a daughter of top turf sire Kitten’s Joy and has already foaled a pair of grass winners. Brown has been hot at Aqueduct, winning at a 33% rate, and he strikes at the same rate when stretching runners out in distance for the first time. For all these reasons, Telephone Talker will be tough to beat.

Churchill Downs Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs)

#5 Major Fed

Major Fed’s siblings have generally fared best on grass; half-sister May Lily is a stakes-winning turf sprinter, while full-brother Zapperini finished second in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3) running 1 ½ miles on the lawn. Major Fed might well follow in their footsteps, but first, this son Ghostzapper will kick off his career sprinting six furlongs on dirt at Churchill Downs. Trainer Greg Foley wins at just a 6% rate with first-time starters, so a debut win seems unlikely for Major Fed, but keep an eye on this colt if he tries grass in the future.

Churchill Downs Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles)

#11 Unwavering

This Bill Mott-trained colt showed little in his debut on Oct. 27 at Churchill Downs, fading to finish last, but there are reasons to expect improvement from this son of Into Mischief. Sold for $300,000 as a 2-year-old in training, Unwavering has trained sharply since his disappointing first run, most notably clocking a half-mile in :47 4/5 on November 11. Unwavering will race with blinkers on Saturday, likely in an effort to sharpen his focus and early speed. If you assume something went wrong in his debut, it’s not hard to envision Unwavering taking a big step forward while stretching out from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

Del Mar Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs)

#7 Garth

Favored at 1-5 in his Del Mar debut, Garth didn’t get off to the sharpest of starts and later flattened out after rallying into contention, finishing second behind future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm the Court. Undeterred by this defeat, trainer Bob Baffert entered Garth in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), but the colt suffered an entrapped epiglottis and understandably faded in the homestretch.

After taking a little time off, Garth has bounced back with a steady series of workouts at Santa Anita. The Godolphin homebred will shed the blinkers he wore in the Del Mar Futurity and figures to be tough while dropping back into maiden company. As a son of Into Mischief out of the Grade 1-winning Empire Maker mare Country Star, Garth is bred to be a top-class colt can still deliver on the lofty expectations that preceded his debut.

#9 Snap Chap

Purchased for $1.2 million as a yearling by OXO Equine, Snap Chap is a well-bred son of leading sire Into Mischief out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare Gaudete, a half-sister to the graded stakes-winning sprinter Munnings. After training in New York throughout the summer and fall, Snap Chap has turned in a couple of recent workouts at Del Mar, including a sharp half-mile in :47 3/5 on November 10. Trained by Don Chatlos, Snap Chap will have Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the saddle for his much-anticipated first run.

Golden Gate Fields Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (1 mile)

#5 A. P. Pharoah

Trainer Blaine Wright, who also has in his barn the familiar 3-year-old Anothertwistafate and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d’Or, will send out another well-bred colt for top client Peter Redekop. A. P. Pharoah is, yes, by American Pharoah, whose progeny have handled both surfaces. But being out of the A.P. Indy mare Danceinthesunlight also makes him a half-brother to $2.9 million earner and Grade 1 winner Moreno. A. P. Pharoah fired a trio of six-furlong bullets at Golden Gate ahead of the highly anticipated debut on the grass.

 

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