I am going to be out of town for the holidays, so there will be no Maiden Watch updates for the next week. So, I thought I would leave you with some questions to ponder and comment about.
1. What was the most impressive performance by a 2-year old in 2008? Any 2-year old, not restricted to Maiden Watch Horses.
To me, the most impressive performance by a 2-year old was Congo Kaye's victory in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes on July 6. She was making her first start that day and came out of the gate like many debut runners, slowly. She was so far back that she was out of the picture for much of the race. Once she did appear on the screen, she began picking off opponents one by one. She then ran down the 1-5 favorite Broadway Hennessey for the win. It's not that uncommon for maiden 2-year olds to win stakes races, but a debut stakes winner is a little more rare. She came back a couple weeks later and faced Broadway Hennessey again in the Wine Country Juvenile Filly Stakes, finishing 2nd. Broadway Hennessey would go on to finish 5th in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III). Congo Kaye has been off since the Wine Country, but she's recently returned to the worktab and it will be interesting to see her run back.
2. What horse or horses have the most potential, in your opinion, to become good 3-year olds. Again, this is any 2-year old, not just Maiden Watch horses.
I thought I'd stick with Maiden Watch horses, and pick one for each sire.
Birdstone: I can't resist going with Resplendently here. I'm a sucker for a closer and the ground he made up in his debut was very impressive.
Congaree: After going on about Congo Kaye, it would be easy to pick her here, but I think I'll go with Presents for Berti. Even though he finished 7th last time out in the Grand Canyon Stakes, I think he'll bounce back.
Medaglia d'Oro: I love Rachel Alexandra, but this is about potential and she's already a grade II winner. So, I'll go with Gabby's Golden Gal, who was one of our first workers. She finished 3rd in her debut at Hollywood on June 15, and then disappeared. She started working again at the end of November and I'm hopeful for a good 3-year old season.
Peace Rules: With 2 wins and 2 seconds already, I'll take Missunitednations. What I really like about this one is her toughness, which she showed in winning an allowance race at Aqueduct in her most recent start on December 12.
Pleasantly Perfect: I was debating a couple of Pleasantly Perfect's, but I think I'm going with Pitched Perfectly. I like that this one has been making steady progress, from 5th first time out, to 2nd, to finally getting his maiden win on December 13. He definitely seemed to improve as the distances increased.
Saarland: Saar Treaty hasn't run a bad one since switching to turf, as her maiden win on September 12, was followed by a 2nd in the Missy Moo I Love You Stakes.
Smarty Jones: Rockland showed potential from his first race where he was third. He has been very professional in his races, and it's easy to see him continue to move forward. Now that he's got a victory on the turf, it will be interesting to see what route they take with him.
Speightstown: Greer Lynn, who won at the Fair Grounds on December 18, looks like one that will go on, but I think I'll go with Mullins Beach. She broke her maiden nicely on the turf on August 31, before finishing 8th in the Mazarine Stakes. She rebounded, however, on October 30, winning a 6 furlong allowance race.
3. Which is your favorite Maiden Watch horse? Note that this is favorite, not which one you think is the best.
This one is hard for me because I have a lot of favorites, after watching them so closely. But the horse I root the hardest for is Precious Beans. Yes, I was first attracted to this horse because of his name. It's a clever name, and nice to see among all the golds and d'oros among the Medaglia d'Oro offspring. He's also one of those horses who always seems to be involved, but just can't get that final push. I'm also becoming fond of Footcandles, who looks so good in the post parade, but so far hasn't run to those looks. And there is something about Texas Birdstone that I can't explain. And hard not to like Valid Rule, who first time out dropped his rider and went back to the barn, and second time out romped. Saarlandisourland is a favorite at the Bloodhorse. Again, it's the name. But, she has shown some ability. I think the fact that she has stayed in Maiden Special Weight races says something about what her connections think of her. Into My Soul is another favorite, I think because he seems to get no respect. Run Smart One has to be my favorite Smarty. It sounds so philosophical. Persian is another one that gives you hope for victory (he's finished 3rd four times), the kind that keep me coming back for more. My favorite among the stakes horses has to be Rachel Alexandra. She's good, has a lot of determination, a great name, and the coolest blaze. What's not to like?