Prospect Watch: Mohaymen’s brother goes long at Saratoga

By Keeler Johnson, Special to HRN
August 22, 2019 09:27am

Saratoga — per the norm — is packed with maiden and stakes races for promising two-year-olds this week.

The excitement kicks off Thursday afternoon with a nine-furlong maiden special weight event on the main track, and because two-turn dirt routes are uncommon for juveniles this time of year, the race has attracted several blueblood runners with the pedigrees to handle this extended distance.

Who should you keep an eye on this week? Here are a half-dozen interesting juveniles to follow:

Thursday

Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (9 furlongs)

#1 Lucky Curlin

Trained by Mark Casse, Lucky Curlin has knocked heads with some tough horses in his first two starts. In his debut at Churchill Downs, he finished fourth behind future graded stakes winner By Your Side, next-out maiden winner Basin and the future graded stakes-placed Verb. Then Lucky Curlin finished third behind Basin in a similar maiden heat at Saratoga, a competitive race that produced strong speed figures plus the next-out winner American Butterfly. Lucky Curlin might find the competition a bit easier this time around, and as a son of Curlin out of a Hard Spun mare, he’s bred to handle 1 1/8 miles just fine.

#1A Enforceable

We highlighted Enforceable at the start of the Saratoga meet, when the son of Tapit was tackling a 1 1/16-mile grass event. Although his fifth-place finish was uninspiring, Enforceable should be a factor while switching back to dirt on Thursday. He did hit the board twice over the Churchill Downs main track this spring, notably finishing third behind future stakes winner Rowdy Yates in a May 31 maiden sprint. And since Enforceable is a full brother to Mohaymen and half to New Year’s Day (both graded stakes winners going two turns on dirt), he also has a strong dirt pedigree backing him up. Kingly, recent winner of Del Mar's La Jolla (G2) on turf, is also a full sibling.

Editor's note: Enforceable won this maiden flight:


#2 Imperare

This first-time starter from the barn of Al Stall Jr. hails from a high-class family of top-notch route runners. His sire, 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, needs no introduction. Neither does his dam, Rhumb Line, who has already produced the two-time Grade 1 winner Zazu plus the Grade 2 winner and Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Flashback. All told, Imperare is a half-brother to three horses who won stakes races going 1 1/16 miles or farther, so from a pedigree perspective, Imperare should thrive over the 1 1/8-mile distance of this maiden event.

Friday

Race 8: Funny Cide Stakes (6 ½ furlongs)

#5 Opportunist

This New York-bred son of Ghostzapper will be a longshot in the Funny Cide Stakes, but he didn’t do anything wrong in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream last month, gaining eight lengths in the final furlong to finish in a dead-heat for victory. Trained by Mark Casse, Opportunist sold for $400,000 as a yearling and could be dangerous if he shows more early speed in the Funny Cide Stakes. The progeny of Ghostzapper tend to improve with maturity, so it’s unlikely we’ve seen the best Opportunist has to offer.

Saturday

Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs)

#4 Atoka

This son of Union Rags showed lots of promise in his debut sprinting seven furlongs at Saratoga, setting the pace and opening up a 3 ½-length lead at the eighth pole before weakening to finish third by a neck. When a D. Wayne Lukas-trained runner shows speed and potential on debut, they can be a good bet second time out, and Atoka is especially appealing since he’s cutting back in distance and racing with Lasix for the first time. An improved performance could be in the offing for this Zayat Stables runner.

#7 
Onward

Sold for a hefty $600,000 as a yearling, Onward is a son of Street Sense out of an Arch mare, giving him a classic-oriented pedigree perfect for the Road to the Kentucky Derby. His trainer, Christophe Clement, is on fire with 10 winners from 41 starters at Saratoga, and Onward has attracted the services of Saratoga’s leading jockey Jose Ortiz. This race might be a starting point for Onward, who should improve over longer distances down the road, but a promising performance on Saturday could be a sign of big things to come.

 

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