Prospect Watch: Siblings to Mitole, Improbable set to debut

Prospect Watch: Siblings to Mitole, Improbable set to debut
Photo: NYRA Photo
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned racing schedules upside down across the country this year, but some things never change, and the arrival of July means 2-year-old racing will heat up in a big way this week.

Keeneland opened for a belated five-day summer meet on Wednesday and Del Mar will join the fray on Friday, with Saratoga to follow next Thursday. As a result, we’re going to turn our weekly Prospect Watch attention away from the 3-year-olds of 2020 (who are pretty well established at this point) and focus instead on up-and-coming juveniles—the classic generation of 2021.

Let’s kick things off by reviewing half a dozen promising first-time starters entered to race from coast to coast this week:

Friday, July 10

Belmont Park Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs on turf, 1:15 p.m. ET)

#2 Pitaman

This 6-furlong sprint looks like a starting point for Pitaman, a stoutly-bred youngster who could potentially develop into a top prospect for hot trainer Graham Motion. A son of Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, best known as the sire of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, Pitaman was produced by the Danzig mare Pitamaken, a sharp winner of the 1 1/16-mile Hatoof Stakes on Polytrack. A Wertheimer and Frere homebred, Pitaman figures to be at his best running long, but he’s shown some speed during morning workouts, and 15% of Pioneerof the Nile’s runners win their turf debuts. Look for Pitaman to show promise in his initial run and subsequently improve with distance and maturity.

#6 King of Miami

An exciting son of American Pharoah, who is siring 15% debut winners on turf, King of Miami has flashed serious speed in the mornings for high-percentage trainer Wesley Ward, a master at conditioning 2-year-old grass sprinters. King of Miami has turned in several workouts on turf and most recently flashed a half-mile in :47 3/5 over the main track at Keeneland. Bred and owned by none other than Ward himself, King of Miami picks up hot jockey Jose Ortiz and will be heavily favored to make his debut a winning one.

Keeneland Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 2:45 p.m. ET)

#9 Touch of Class

The distance of this 5 1/2-furlong dash might be a little short for Touch of Class, but the turf surface should be right up her alley. Produced by the Grand Slam mare Abbeyville Miss, Touch of Class is a full sibling to American Derby (G3) winner One Mean Man and Gallorette Handicap (G3) winner Mizz Money, both major winners running 1 1/16 miles or farther on grass. There’s plenty of stamina in Touch of Class’ pedigree, though sire Mizzen Mast is also responsible for two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) champion Mizdirection, so perhaps Touch of Class can show a bit of speed on debut for trainer Bernard Flint (a 14% winner with first-time starters).

Saturday, July 11

Keeneland Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 1:39 p.m. ET)

#4 Snake Doctor

From top to bottom, Snake Doctor is bred to excel racing two turns on dirt. Sire Oxbow was a front-running winner of the Preakness (G1), while dam Rare Event—a daughter of Belmont Stakes (G1) champion A.P. Indy—previously foaled Improbable, recent winner of the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). A Calumet Farm homebred trained by Jack Sisterson, Snake Doctor has been posting sharp workouts at Keeneland since the middle of May, culminating with a half-mile from the starting gate in :47 4/5 on June 20 and a regular half-mile in :47 2/5 on June 27. With hot jockey Flavien Prat in the saddle, there’s plenty to like about Snake Doctor, though he figures to improve with maturity and ultimately prove best running long.

#5 Palazzi

Produced by the stakes-winning turf sprinter Kindle, Palazzi is a son of the above-mentioned Pioneerof the Nile, renowned sire of American Pharoah. Sold for $510,000 as a yearling, Palazzi has been cranking out workouts since March and already has 13 timed moves under his belt for trainer Mark Casse, including a quick half-mile from the Casse Training Center starting gate in :47.40 a couple months back. Bay colt will debut in the colors of John C. Oxley and should deliver an encouraging effort.

Del Mar Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 furlongs, 7:00 p.m. ET)

#2 Hot Rod Charlie

Considering the top-caliber bloodlines Hot Rod Charlie has surging through veins, it’s hard to believe he sold for just $100,000 as a yearling. Sired by Preakness champion Oxbow, Hot Rod Charlie was produced by the Indian Charlie mare Indian Miss, better known as the dam of 2019 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner and champion male sprinter Mitole. Hot Rod Charlie hasn’t shown as much speed in the mornings as his illustrious half-brother, but he’s put together a solid enough work tab for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill and is worth watching for his pedigree alone.

Enjoy the racing!

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