Welcome back to Triple Crown Talk.
Breeders' Cup Chat normally switches over to Triple Crown Talk once the calendar turns, but for the sake of my sanity and many others', I've decided to do it a few weeks earlier this year. I simply cannot bear to see the same subject written about anymore. It's time to move on folks.
Though there is a lull in racing at this time of the year, December is also exciting because of the anticipation of our juveniles turning 3. On Dec. 26 Santa Anita will re-open with dirt, which may be the best news this industry has had in quite some time. The Triple Crown trail will be relevant in California once again. A week later Gulfstream will begin its important meet, followed shortly thereafter by Oaklawn. Along the way, previously unknown sophomores from all over the country--New York, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and other places-will vault themselves into the spotlight with eye-opening performances and the Triple Crown trail will be in full swing.
As we stand here in early December there is a clear and unquestioned Kentucky Derby favorite. Uncle Mo ran three of the most impressive consecutive 2-year-old races in a long time and because of that people are hopeful that we could be looking at our first Triple Crown winner since 1978. Is he the one to break the 32-year drought, or could it be impressive Nashua and Remsen winner To Honor and Serve? Both talented colts have made their way down to Florida and we will anxiously await their 3-year-old debuts.
There is also a chance that the 2011 Derby winner has not yet made his racing debut. Part of the fun of the Triple Crown trail is not following the favorites, but watching horses come from nowhere to become contenders. Here are a half-dozen that I will have my eye on. Let me know of some others to watch.
Don't look now but the Derby is less than five months away!
Awesome Patriot (Awesome Again-Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy)--Out of a full sister to Tiznow, he broke his maiden in his Oct. 9 debut and most recently ran third in the Hollywood Prevue. Bob Baffert is pointing him to next week's CashCall Futurity and is pretty excited about his future, especially around two turns.
For the record, Baffert also has Prayer for Relief pointing to the Futurity. The son of Jump Start was second last out in the Real Quiet Stakes. Norfolk winner Jaycito, recently transferred into Baffert's barn, is just getting back into training after a month off. Coil, who Baffert bought privately for the connections that owned Lookin At Lucky after his debut in which he was third to Awesome Patriot, is out for at least 45 days after having a knee chip removed. Baffert was very high on the son of Point Given, especially after his impressive maiden breaker last month at Hollywood. He also likes The Factor, who ran fourth as the odds-on choice in his debut a couple weeks ago.
Brethren (Distorted Humor--Supercharger, by A.P. Indy)--Not much secret here after the half-brother to Derby winner Super Saver won his first two starts. The one-mile allowance win at Churchill on Nov. 27 was very impressive considering how he rated and came wide into the turn (click here for video). Pletcher has Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, but this one is worth watching for obvious reasons.
Crossbow (Bernardini-Forest Heiress, by Forest Wildcat)--Darley homebred made his debut Nov. 27 at Aqueduct and looked very sharp despite finishing third. He broke from the rail and was gunned through ridiculous opening splits of :21.40 and :44.50 under Alan Garcia while opening up a clear lead into the stretch. He was caught in mid-stretch, as would be expected of a first-time starter running those fractions, but his talent was very apparent (video). Look for him to return to action at Aqueduct soon, probably with another rider aboard for Kiaran McLaughlin. He might be the best of the Darley 2-year-olds and is certainly worth following.
Dialed In (Mineshaft-Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat)--No secret with this colt either after he broke his maiden in sensational fashion Nov. 12 at Churchill. Words can't do justice to the come-from-behind effort, so I'll just let you watch the video and make up your own mind. Nick Zito will take him down to Florida to prepare for his 3-year-old campaign.
Dynamize (Dynaformer-Stirring, by Seeking the Gold)--A $610,000 yearling at Keeneland September, he was bought by a team led by Alex Solis Jr. He has a classic pedigree with plenty of stamina, as he's from the family of Belmont winner Touch Gold and Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval. Also is a half-brother to 2009 Derby starter Nowhere to Hide. Has been working lights out at Lambholm South in Florida (four furlongs in :48 and three today) and will soon be shipped to California on Dec. 14. Look for him to make his debut in the middle of January at Santa Anita. The connections feel that he can be a star. Here is a video of him galloping on Nov. 1
Queen'splatekitten (Kitten's Joy-Iteration, by Wild Again)--Ken Ramsey always has a couple of young, talented horses and this might be his best. He has big, long strides, as you can see from his Dec. 3 maiden win in which he passed rivals as if they were standing still (video). That was on Woodbine's Polytrack and he is bred for turf, so it will be interesting to see how he handles dirt. One thing if for sure: Ramsey will give him every opportunity to try. Trained by Brian Lynch.
For all of you Aces N Kings fans, he is running this weekend in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park.