It’s Time For Some Baby Talk

Summer is gearing down, the Hopeful and Del Mar Futurity have been run, and September means the beginning of fall. And the beginning of fall means 2-year-olds, and in this case a double dose of them.

Of course you have to start ranking them with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in mind, but you also have to start looking at these babies as potential Kentucky Derby horses. At least you do in this neck of the woods, where the roses are already starting to bloom.

We are well aware that we have to get through a long, cold winter first. But as Amanda McBroom wrote, “Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.”

So let’s catch an early whiff of rose petals and mint juleps. Below, you will see our early rankings, not only with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in mind but next year’s Kentucky Derby, with the emphasis on pedigree.

With the large number of maiden and stakes horses this time of year, there very well could be omissions—those we missed will be added—but let’s get it started.


1—Green Light Go Jimmy Jerkens Saratoga Special victory was both a brilliant and professional score. Excellent blend of speed and stamina. Bypassed Hopeful for Champagne due to sloppy track. Jerkens is overdue to put family name in Derby and Breeders’ Cup record books. Looks to have a ton of class.
2—Basin Steve Asmussen May 12 foal, broke his maiden in swift 1:09 3/5 before scoring runaway victory in Hopeful. Mostly a mile to 1 1/8 mile pedigree, but tail-female family could get him to go farther. Handles fast and sloppy tracks equally.
3—Three Technique Jeremiah Englehart Only a maiden winner, but stamped himself as possibly something special. Showed brilliant turn of foot to blow his field away. Loved his low action and the way he was striding out. Ran four-fifths faster than the other division. Has seven classic winners in his five-generation pedigree, including three Triple Crown winners.
4—Eight Rings Bob Baffert Sent off at 1-2 in Del Mar Futurity after spectacular maiden score only to duck in at the start and lose his rider. As slow as they ran and came home in Futurity, one would have to think he would have had no trouble beating this field. Bred to run all day.
5—Gouverneur Morris Todd Pletcher It’s difficult judging a young horse based on one 5 1/2-furlong start in the slop, but this colt looked like the real deal, sitting off the pace and powering his way to a scintillating 9-length romp with John Velazquez never even moving the whip or asking him to run in the stretch, winning geared down. Love the inbreeding to Unbridled and second dam by Touch Gold. Can’t wait to see him on a fast track.

6—Express Train

 John Shirreffs

Stretched out to a mile following distant second to Eight Rings and demolished his field by 14 1/4 lengths. Not sure what he beat; defeated 40-1 shot in 1:38 2/5. He has a pedigree inundated with stamina and will run all day, He certainly boosts reputation of Eight Rings.
7—Tap it to Win Mark Casse Had a perfect rail-skimming trip in maiden victory, but accelerated like a good horse and drew off impressively in a sprightly 1:09 3/5. Tapit on top of Medaglia d‘Oro mare should enable him to stretch out with no problem.                                      
8—Dennis’ Moment Dale Romans Demolished Ellis Park maiden field by staggering 19 1/4 lengths in a brilliant 1:21 4/5 for 7 panels. Gets just the right amount of speed from damsire Elusive Quality to go with tons stamina top and bottom thru sire Tiznow tracing to Pleasant Colony in tail-female family.
9—Flute Maker Ken McPeek Yes, his runaway maiden score at Spa was off the turf, but you had to be very impressed with his turn of foot to sweep to the lead on the turn, fan wide, and then pour it on without being asked to romp by 11 1/2 lengths going 7 furlongs. Very rare pedigree coup being inbred to Triple Crown winners Affirmed, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat. Broodmare sire Pleasantly Perfect won BC Classic and second dam Flute won Kentucky Oaks and Alabama.
10—Nucky Peter Miller It wasn’t so much the slow final time of his Del Mar Futurity score after Eight Rings threw his rider, it was the extremely slow come home times of :26 and :14 2/5 following blazing early fractions of :21 4/5 and 44 4/5. The fact he pressed that pace gives him a pass for the sluggish final fractions, and the two in front of him were badly beaten, finishing last and next to last of those who finished. Plenty of stamina and should improve going longer.
11—Scabbard Eddie Kenneally Formerly known as (the terribly named) Noose, he overcame a bad start to rally for second to Green Light Go in the Saratoga Special following impressive 5-length maiden score at Churchill Downs. By More Than Ready out of a very strong female family.
12—Shoplifted Steve Asmussen Not sure how far he wants to go, but his maiden victory in 1:03 4/5 at Saratoga was very impressive and he rallied from sixth to get up for second in the Hopeful Stakes. Another runner by Into Mischief, his female family is loaded with speed so he will have to find stamina somewhere, but the Breeders’ Cup should be no problem.
13—Gozilla Steve Asmussen Have a feeling his well-beaten third in the Hopeful was an aberration, and if he can ever learn to settle off the pace we will see an entirely different horse. He appears to be extremely talented and his maiden score was a thing of beauty. What makes him an enigma is that he is bred for stamina top and bottom. In short, he is much better than he showed in the Hopeful. He just needs to harness his speed and take advantage of his pedigree.
14—Storm the Court Peter Eurton Lost all chance in Del Mar Futurity when Eight Rings ducked in causing him to nearly go down. So just have to go by his gutsy maiden win, his pedigree, and his trainer, who is an excellent horseman and looks ready to make an impact on the classics.
15—Collusion Illusion Mark Glatt Best Pal winner skipped the Del Mar Futurity, working three days earlier, his first since the Best Pal three weeks earlier. Undefeated in two starts, he should stretch out in distance with no problem with his strong pedigree.
16—Enforceable Mark Casse He certainly has more foundation than any of the others, breaking his maiden at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles in a pretty solid 1:50 3/5 in his fourth start. Full sister and brother in his male and female families, both by In Reality, out of the top producer Foggy Note. He’s already ready for the Remsen Stakes.
17—City Man Christophe Clement

Defeated New York-breds in the Funny Cide to remain undefeated, but the way he did it, drawing off impressively after chasing fast fractions, suggests he will be facing open company very shortly. He is by Mucho Macho Man, but his female family is mostly speed so we’ll have to see how far he wants to go. No doubt the talent is there.

18—Wrecking Crew Peter Miller

Out-battled 37-1 shot for second in Del Mar Futurity, but was no match for stablemate Nucky. He was coming off strong second in the Best Pal Stakes after winning first time out at 2-5. Good mixture of speed and stamina. Just have no idea what to make of the Del Mar Futurity after what happened early on.

19—By Your Side Eddie Kenneally Going to attribute his poor effort in the Hopeful to the slop, as he went into that race undefeated, including an impressive score in the Sanford Stakes, in which he sat in second before drawing off to win by 3 lengths in 1:10 1/5. Distance should not be a problem for son of Constitution.
20—Tumbling Sky Steve Asmussen Maiden victory got a bit lost, coming on the same card as Gozilla’s  more visually impressive score. But his 1:09 4/5 time was only a tick slower than his stablemate. Pedigree doesn’t jump out at you, but is stronger than it looks. Been breezing easy half miles.
21—Tuggle Jeremiah Englehart Following wire-to-wire score in career debut and third in the Saratoga Special, he was switched to the grass in With Anticipation and ran an even sixth. Watch him if he goes back to dirt. With his stamina heavy pedigree top and bottom, no reason for him to be on the lead. Should be dynamite going two turns on the dirt.
22—American Theorem George Papaprodromou American Pharoah colt ran to his fast works, winning career debut showing good acceleration after being behind wall of horses. Won by 1 ½ lengths but was 10 lengths in front on the gallop out. Race was only 5 1/2 furlongs but with his pedigree he should have no trouble stretching out.
23—Defense Wins Doug O’Neill After half-length defeat in career debut behind Collusion Illusion, he was thrown into Del Mar Futurity and ran well enough to finish third at odds of 37-1. Plenty of stamina and you don’t see many horses out of a Silver Charm mare. Should keep improving.
24—Fore Left Doug O’Neill Tremont winner and close third in the Best Pal, he got caught up in torrid pace duel in Del Mar Futurity before tiring to finish well-beaten fifth. Although he won Tremont setting brisk pace, he will need to curtail his speed if he wants to be competitive when the distances stretch out.
25—Acre Bill Mott After poor showing in career debut at 5 ½ furlongs, he was visually impressive stretching out to 7 furlongs, drawing off to 3 1/2-length score in off-the-turfer. Probably has more stamina in his pedigree than any of the others, being by Blame, out of stamina-laden European family.

Others to watch are Tomato Bill, who is back working steadily after second in Sanford Stakes. Won debut by 4 lengths at Delaware Park. He is another who needs to sit behind horses and not be committed to the lead; Famished, who overcame bumping at the start of Spa maiden race to draw clear late, winning by 1 1/4 lengths, but ran four-fifths slower than Three Technique; Glory Road, who would have made the list after he closed like a rocket to win career debut for Pletcher, but hasn’t worked since. Once he gets back in training he should be one to keep an eye on; Sapling Stakes winner Big City Bob, who showed his gameness breaking his maiden by a hard-fought nose before scoring a tough neck victory in the Sapling. Son of Shanghai Bobby has a ton of stamina in female family highlighted by classic winners Birdstone, Grindstone, and Affirmed in first three generations; Wayne Lukas-trained American Butterfly, who scored 22-1 upset in maiden race, but tired in Hopeful Stakes after battling on the lead. Female family should help him stretch out; New York-bred Moonachie, who won his career debut by 10 lengths for Jeremiah Englehart, who should start thinking about putting him in open company; Always Misbehaving, who finished second to Three Technique, stretching out from 5 1/2 to 7 furlongs; Bob Baffert-trained Hydrogen, who closed well to finish second to American Theorem in maiden race. I like the way he was moving in the final furlong and he will improve when the distances stretch out. With his pedigree he wants no part of 5 1/2 furlongs; there has to be a excuse for Garth in the Del Mar Futurity. Sent off at 4-1, the Baffert-trained son of Into Mischief had run a big second to Storm the Court in career debut. For Baffert to put him in a grade 1 as a maiden, he must have thought a lot of him. He dueled on the lead before hitting the proverbial brick wall at the head of the stretch like a horse who bled or had a breathing problem. We’ll keep an eye on that.

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