J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
coming weekend of racing is a bit of a quiet one with not a lot of stakes
action on the agenda, but the $100,000 Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar has
attracted a promising-looking field containing several fillies that appear to
have bright futures. Let's take a quick look at that race, and then review a few
promising two-year-old colts that could make some noise this winter on the
Triple Crown trail....
Desi Arnaz Stakes
are a lot of fast fillies entered in the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes, but
it's possible that none are quite as quick as Ms Bad Behavior. Trained by Richard Baltas, the daughter of Blame was
beaten in two starts at Del Mar this summer, but showed ample speed each time
while competing against the likes of Alluring Star (future runner-up in the
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies) and Piedi Bianchi (who has placed in a couple
of Grade 1 races).
Ms Bad Behavior took her game to a new level when breaking her maiden at Santa
Anita on October 15th. Sent off as the 1-2 favorite against six
rivals, Ms Bad Behavior settled into second place behind blazing fractions of
:21.17 and :43.73, then cruised to the lead in the homestretch and pulled away
to win by 3 ¼ lengths in the solid time of 1:16.75, a time that produced a 79
Beyer and a 95 BRIS speed figure.
her excellent early speed and ability to rate off the lead, Ms Bad Behavior
should be able to work out an ideal trip regardless of how the Desi Arnaz
Stakes unfolds. And while she didn't finish very fast in her maiden win, that
was to be expected given how quick a pace she pursued, and her pedigree
suggests that the extra half-furlong of the Desi Arnaz Stakes shouldn't be an
issue. To me, Ms Bad Behavior looks like the most likely winner.
Dream Tree and Midnight Bisou, the 1-2 finishers in a
six-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita on October 26th, also warrant
respect. The race came back reasonably strong on the speed figure scales,
though not quite as strong as Ms Bad Behavior's race, and both are eligible to
take a step forward while making their second starts. Of the pair, I might
narrowly prefer the Baffert-trained filly Dream Tree since she raced wide while
pushing a fast pace and will race with blinkers off on Saturday, but Midnight
Bisou races for a trainer (William Spawr) that wins at a striking 25% rate with
second-time starters, and it's not hard to envision her turning the tables of
Dream Tree while stretching out another furlong in distance.
it's your turn! Who do you like in the Desi Arnaz Stakes?
Promising 2yos Emerge in California
recent years, the Triple Crown races have been dominated to a great extent by
horses based in California, including I'll Have Another, California Chrome,
American Pharoah, Nyquist, and Exaggerator. While it's too early to say if the
West Coast will exert a similar influence on the 2018 Triple Crown, judging
from the horses and performances we've already seen from two-year-olds at Santa
Anita and Del Mar, it's shaping up to be another strong season for California's
Triple Crown contenders.
of the most promising young runners might be McKinzie, named for the late Brad McKinzie of Los Alamitos. Trained
by Bob Baffert, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense couldn't
have been more impressive in his debut at Santa Anita on October 28th,
rallying wide from just off the pace to crush nine rivals by 5 ½ lengths,
stopping the clock in 1:22.70 and earning a 99 Beyer speed figure. The Los
Alamitos CashCall Futurity (gr. I) next month is on the agenda for this
talented colt, who was ridden to victory by the Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
The sky might be the limit for McKinzie, who is bred to excel in two-turn
Cool Bobby is
another colt to keep an eye on. Trained by Peter Eurton, the son of Shanghai
Bobby was beaten just a neck in his debut at Santa Anita last month, then
returned to win a six-furlong maiden race at Del Mar on November 11th
by 1 ¼ lengths, rallying from just off the pace and closing the final
quarter-mile in :24 3/5 to win going away with an 88 Beyer speed figure. His
pedigree suggests that he might wind up best as a sprinter/miler, but only time
will tell. In any case, he appears bound for stakes company in the near future.
runner-up behind Cool Bobby, Candy
Cornell, could also be a factor down the road. Trained by John Shirreffs,
who isn't known for training debut winners, Candy Cornell was sent off as the
longest shot in the race at odds of 65-1 but outran expectations in a big way,
settling just off the lead before taking command after a half-mile and staying
on well to finish clearly second-best. I think we could see Candy Cornell take
a big step forward off this effort, and I expect to see him on the Triple Crown
trail at some point this winter.
J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, blogger, videographer, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website www.theturfboard.com.