Haskin's Derby Trail: My Adonis Heads to Gotham

When Kiaran McLaughlin announced that Alpha would skip the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) and go directly to the Wood Memorial (gr. I), the connections of Hansen might have thought they were all but home free over Aqueduct’s speed-favoring inner track. But as it turns out they might be looking over their shoulder in the final furlong after all. My Adonis should be closing in fast, just as he did the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III).

Trainer Kelly Breen said that the son of Pleasantly Perfect likely will make his next start in the 1 1/16-mile race March 3. In the Holy Bull, last year’s champion 2-year-old barely held off My Adonis for second behind Algorithms. What made My Adonis’ performance so impressive was the fact that he came from 20 lengths back after a half-mile over a speed-conducive sloppy sealed track, and was still nearly a dozen lengths back at the head of the stretch. In the final furlong, My Adonis made up seven lengths on Hansen, who was too keyed up early after stumbling coming out of the gate and scorching his second quarter in :22 flat.

My Adonis’ performance actually was totally out of character, as he previously had been a pace stalker in all his races, other than his career debut when he rallied from a dozen lengths back going 5 ½ furlongs.

After romping in a mile and 70-yard maiden race at Monmouth in the mud, he ran off with the one-mile Jean Laffitte as a prep for the rich Delta Downs Jackpot. But in the Delta Jackpot he got caught up in a suicidal speed duel (:22, :45 2/5) with the Bob Baffert-trained Drill, with both colts folding badly and finishing up the track.

Sent to Palm Meadows, he became a terror in the mornings, rattling off three consecutive bullets works – five furlongs in :59 2/5 breezing, a half in :47 breezing, and three furlongs in :34 4/5 breezing.

In the Holy Bull, he bumped with Consortium at the start and took himself out of the race, dropping back to last, far off the pace. The unfamiliar scenario didn’t seem to faze him, as he unleashed a powerful run and nearly got up for second.

“I think he’s a top horse,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “We’ve worked him with Ruler On Ice and Pants On Fire and he’s always gone head and head with them.”

When asked what his best running style is, Breen replied, “I don’t know. In the Holy Bull he looked like one of those Nick Zito horses that close from far back all the time in the Florida Derby (gr. I). It wasn’t until halfway through the Monmouth meet that he decided to run and put it all together. I think the addition of blinkers might have helped. Early on, he didn’t have the speed and would just keep going in :12s every eighth. After Monmouth, the light bulb went on and he got his mind together.”

As for his decision to run in the Gotham, Breen said, “I have horses up there, he’s training well, and it just seems to make sense.”

Breen has never let good horses scare him away from big races, and when asked if he was concerned about the possibility of Hansen getting loose on an easy lead over a speed-favoring track, he simply said, “It is what it is.”

My Adonis looks to be an improving horse who will love the mile and a quarter, especially being sired by Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Pleasantly Perfect. Some may doubt his distance capabilities because of his broodmare sire Elusive Quality, who did sire Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. It should be noted that Elusive Quality, as fast as he was, is out of a Rokeby Stable mare, Touch of Greatness, who is by Hero’s Honor, a long distance grass horse that won the United Nations, Bowling Green, and Red Smith Handicaps. Hero’s Honor also is a half-brother to Kentucky Derby and Travers winner Sea Hero. Touch of Greatness is out of Ivory Wand, who won the Test Stakes and placed in the Spinster twice. Ivory Wand is by English Derby winner Sir Ivor, out of Natashka, winner of the CCA Oaks and Monmouth Oaks, and the dam of top-class stayers Arkadina, who placed in the English and Irish Oaks; Blood Royal, winner of the long-distance Jockey Club Cup and Chester Vase; Gregorian, winner of the Group I Joe McGrath Memorial; and Truly Bound, winner of the Ashland, Fair Grounds Oaks, and Cotillion and second in the Spinster.

But it is My Adonis’ tail female family that is worth taking notice of. Four of his first five dams are sisters to major stakes winners. His dam, Silent Justice is a half-sister to Ancient Title (gr. III) winner Lakota Brave, and third dam, Stream, is a half-sister to Rokeby’s Prides Profile, winner of the Gazelle and Diana Handicaps and placed in the CCA Oaks, Alabama, and Mother Goose. Fourth dam, Hillbrook, is a half-sister to one of the leading handicap stars of his era, Hillsdale, a winner of 15 major stakes who swept the Strub Series and captured the Hollywood Gold Cup, Californian, Aqueduct Handicap, San Antonio, and San Carlos. He also finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and came within a head of being named Horse of the Year, dropping a narrow decision to Sword Dancer in the Woodward Stakes, while finishing ahead of Round Table in what was billed as the Race of the Decade. My Adonis’ fifth dam, Johann, is a half-sister to American Derby winner and 3-year-old champion Fighting Step.

Breen also said that last year’s Belmont (gr. I) winner Ruler On Ice, who ran poorly in the recent Donn Handicap (gr. I), has been sent to owner/breeder George and Lori Hall’s farm in Kentucky for a little R & R.

“He got a little banged up, and considering he’s never had a break, we felt it was time give him some time off and get ready for the big races later in the year,” Breen said.

Breen and the Halls have another able representative in the older horse division in Pants On Fire, who runs next in the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds, where he won the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) last year.


Leave a Comment:


I was all over My Adonis in the Delta Jackpot, only to see him destroy any chance in a speed dual.  Also bet him heavy in the Holy Bull only to see him get a poor start and not get up for 2d.  I'm thinking he is one of those horses that will always be "just there" but not reach his full potential.  But I will have him on the bottom of my Derby exotics; with Shared Property and Prospective.  

16 Feb 2012 6:46 PM

Another Pleasantly Perfect horse for the Halls and Kelly Breen....I like them alot and wish them success with My Adonis.

I wonder what they think of Rapid Redux and his win streak?

16 Feb 2012 7:59 PM

A surface as well as weather change from Gulfstream to Aqueduct for the 2nd and 3rd place finishers of the Holy Bull after we see the winner(Alogo) run in the FOY. I dont think anyone will be ducking Hansen after his last race,in fact as you stated Mclaughlin's decision to skip the Gotham probably had an effect on their decision to ship up to NY.

16 Feb 2012 8:30 PM

I like this horse; just wish he had a better  name... it doesn't have a TC ring to it.

18 Feb 2012 7:26 AM

Why does everybody on these blogs keep saying Hansen ran bad? The cup was weak beyer.....he ran no worse!

18 Feb 2012 5:26 PM
Smoking Baby

 KY VET.  I'd like you thoughts on something that's been bugging me.  I agree the speed figure for the Breeder's Cup Juvenile was nothing to write home about.  What are your thoughts on the speed figure in the Juvenile Fillies earned by My Miss Aurelia and why is it that so many people are so high on this filly?  86?  Please.  

19 Feb 2012 10:16 AM

Hey Steve!  Thanks for the article, I've been trying to put together my fantasy stable and he's one that I added first.  I like the fact that they're going to the Gotham.  As always, enjoyed reading your aticles.

19 Feb 2012 9:26 PM

Both divisions were weak....miss a won though....she might have been able to run a little faster...look...the 2 yr olds were weak..thats why rags was big fav....horses may improve, but those 2 yr olds were weak

19 Feb 2012 9:44 PM

ky vet and smoking baby--i wouldn't put much stock intheto  beyers for the main track races from breeders cup weekend--the track was like running on quicksand.

my adonis couldn't pass a tiring hansen who was carrying more weight than he and after hansen ran the first 3 splits at santa anita speeds, without the benifit of santa anita's supercharged surface to help him.  unless hansen didn't come out of the race ok (and since he breezed a bullet sunday--i think he's fine), hansen has no need to be worried about my adonis--however, he likely won't win the gotham since he'll be carrying 123lbs (again) and only one horse in the last 12 year has won the gotham carrying over 116lbs (and that horse only carried 120lbs)--if hansen finishes in the top 3 (again) at high weight (again) (and again giving most of the field 6 lbs or more)--anyone who discounts him doesn't really have a good grasp of how this sport works and what is really going on in these races.

any horse can win carrying 116lbs--but anything over 120lbs is a horse of a different color.  lightweight horses beating highweight horses tells you nothing about the merits of each horse vis a vis the other--even if the lightweight wins by several lengths. it also tells you nothing about the lightweight's ability to carry weight--the most overlooked, under-appreciated factor going forward.

20 Feb 2012 11:01 AM

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