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Monday, October 09, 2006

Juveniles Lack Sizzle

- By this time last year, at least three two-year olds had already created some excitement. Haskin had already proclaimed First Samurai as a potential Triple Crown winner. Really. Henny Hughes won his first three in scintillating fashion before running into First Samurai at Saratoga. And Stevie Wonderboy was spectacular in his last-to-first win in the Del Mar Futurity. Even Discreet Cat had people talking off his single maiden win at Saratoga.

This year, unless I'm just wearing my East Coast blinkers and I'm missing something out west, nobody seems to have anyone looking ahead to the first Saturday in May. I wonder if the Derby winner has even run yet. Without conducting exhaustive research, my guess would be that history suggests that he (or she) has. Barbaro made his debut on Oct 7; Giacomo first ran on July 15; Funny Cide on Sept 8. (Smarty Jones didn't debut until November 9.)

If the Derby winner has run, it beats the hell out of me who it is, though I did like Great Hunter's effort in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland. Circular Quay had a bit of a buzz, due to his late closing style; but he was sent off at 2-5 in his two-turn debut, oh man! Great Hunter lost all momemtum and had to drop back behind a tiring horse approaching the turn. "Stopped cold," said Victor Espinoza. But the jock was able to move him outside, and even though Circular Quay had already started to roll, Great Hunter was able to recover quickly enough to maintain an edge on the favorite, even forcing him wide on the turn (and bumped him, according to the racechart). "The turn of foot he has was unbelievable." [Lexington Herald-Reader] Circular Quay finished OK for second, but was not getting to the winner at all.

Great Hunter is a Pennsylvania-bred (oh man, not the Pennsylvania thing again); he's by Aptitude out of a Zenith, a stakes-winning daughter of the Fappiano stallion Roy. For Aptitude, a second year sire standing for $20,000 at Juddmonte, it's his third stakes winner, all this year. It may, or may not, be worth mentioning that Great Hunter prepped for the race on the Cushion Track surface at Hollywood Park.

The win temporarily moved up the stock of the West Coast juveniles Horse Greeley and Walter favorite Principle Secret; but both got beat the next day in the Norfolk, as you know if you read Walter's recap of the race. I don't have much to add, except to second the observation that Stormello seemed to be moving better in the stretch than Principle Secret, yet the latter was able to keep the margin close. It was definitely a credible performance by both in their two-turn debuts, but I think that Great Hunter was the best juvenile I saw this weekend.

Stormello had run third behind Great Hunter and Horse Greeley in the Del Mar Futurity, but Kent Desormeaux flew back specifically for this race.

"I told Mr. Currin that he was going faster under the wire than he was at the start of the race," Desormeaux said of finishing third in the Del Mar Futurity. "I knew he would love two turns. He showed a lot of determination and heart today." [LA Times]
Stormello is by Stormy Atlantic, out of a Carson City mare. It's the tenth stakes winner, third graded, of the year for the stallion.


Anonymous said...

Geez, already with the Derby stuff???

Are any of the top 2yo's right now Derby contenders? The answer is, "I really don't care". I realize that other people feel differently, and that's fine, but i just want to enjoy the Breeders Cup right now. Speaking for myself, i enjoy the Juvenile a heckuva lot more than i ever enjoyed the Derby. Same goes for the Sprint, the Mile, etc. Different strokes for different folks, i guess. I know that when i did the Derby and Breeders Cup futures for a certain Strip hotel, we had more money in the Derby pool this time of year than we did in the Classic pool. I always thought that was rather incredible, since the Classic was right around the corner (and had been on the board longer), and the Derby was still better than 6 months away. But people just care about the Derby, for whatever reason. One year, the boss even let me do Arc futures, and we had them up for about 2 months leading into the race. You know how many bets we took? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Incidentally, i read in DRF the other day that Wynn has opened Derby futures. Next time i'm down there i'll grab a sheet, and try to fill you guys in on some prices. Get ready for a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Bad news. This from an ESPN.COM article this morning:

"The unbeaten Discreet Cat, who most recently won the Jerome Handicap, will not run in the Classic unless something unforeseen befalls Bernardini. Both are owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, though under different stable names.

'If Bernardini runs, Discreet Cat will go in the Cigar Mile,' Rick Mettee, who is the New York-based assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said Monday. 'He will not run in the Sprint.'

This really annoys me. I always root for great horses to run great races, but it would really serve them right if Bernardini loses in the Classic and Henny Hughes loses in the Sprint.

- Alex

Anonymous said...

Well, we all know the Sheik likes to pump up his own festival in March. I wouldn't be surprised if he was saving the Bernardini - Discreet Cat matchup for the DWC.

Anonymous said...

Brian - If you're right, I can live with that (and just pray that nothing goes wrong for either of them). I just hope the thinking isn't "this is Bernardini's year...once we send him off to the breeding shed, next year can be Discreet Cat's year to shine". If waiting for their matchup ensures that they both run at four, I'll still be a happy camper. - Alex

Alan Mann said...

I'd be pleasantly surprised if Bernardini isn't retired immediately after the Classic.

Anonymous said...

I think Bernardini 2006/Discreet Cat 2007 is exactly their plan. Rather presumptuous, if you ask me, but they're the ones calling the shots.