Two-year-old racehorses are all about the anticipation.
Owners cannot wait for the first start to see if their horses have what it takes to win. And if those horses become winners, the anticipation only grows. Just how good could they become?
Churchill Downs offered a full card of 12 imagination-grabbing juvenile races Nov. 30, and the thrills provided were not limited to owners and trainers.
Three winners on the card became the first winners for their dams.
“It is hugely significant,” said Bret Jones of Air-drie Stud, about a mare getting her first winner. Airdrie’s homebred mare On the Menu accomplished that with her first starter when Homesick Angel won a seven-furlong $41,000 maiden special weight by five lengths on the main track. The filly won in her third start. Airdrie had won a stakes and placed in four others with On the Menu (by Canadian Frontier) before breeding her to the farm’s stallion Divine Park.
“The first obstacle for any mare is whether she can get a good foal,” said Jones, who is the son of Airdrie founder Brereton C. Jones. “This filly was as good a foal as we had that year, and you can tell by how well she sold.”
Ed and Sharon Hudon, who race as Sierra Farm, bought Homesick Angel for $260,000 out of the Keeneland September sale. The filly is trained by Phil Sims and will soon be shipped to Oaklawn Park, where she’ll attempt to clear the next obstacle for her dam—having a stakes winner. Homesick Angel seems to be holding her own against the right company. In her first start the filly finished third to Tepin, who won the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III) at Delta Downs Nov. 23; in her second start she finished second behind Bird Maker, who was second in the Nov. 30 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill.
“That next important step is getting the black type,” said Jones. “But to start out this way and to have such high hopes for this filly is special.”
The other first winners on the card were Hesinfront, a colt by War Front out of Classy Marlin, who won a 11⁄8-mile $41,000 maiden special weight on the turf. Hesinfront is a Frank Jones Jr. homebred and trained by Dale Romans. Jones also bred and raced Classy Marlin, who is a daughter of Sky Classic. Like Homesick Angel, Hesinfront is also the first starter for his dam.
The third first-time winner of the day was Wicked Temper, a filly by Tapit out of Irish-bred Sayedah, who won a one-mile $41,000 maiden special weight on the turf. Wicked Temper was bred by Galleria Bloodstock and Rhinestone Bloodstock. She was a $190,000 buy-back as a weanling at the 2011 Keeneland November sale and then sold for $315,000 to Mark Stanley during the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. Her victory at Churchill Downs came in her third start. She is also trained by Romans. Sayedah is a group II stakes winner as a homebred runner for Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate.
There are other dam-related feats from the day worth noting.
Golden Rod winner Vexed became the third winner from three starters for Cross, a daughter of Mighty. Vexed is a homebred for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, who also bred Cross, sold her, and then reacquired her for the last few starts of her racing career. Cross is also the dam of Sign (by Pulpit), who won the 2012 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) under the Twin Spires. Vexed is a daughter of Claiborne’s sire Arch.
In the same vein, maiden winner Bourbonize is the second winner from two starters for Brown Eyes, a daughter of Halo’s Image. Bourbonize won his seven-furlong maiden special weight by two lengths for owner Bourbon Lane Stable. The gelding by Tiz Wonderful was bred by Troy Rankin and Joe Davis.
Racing fans also got to see in the winner’s circle Nov. 30 the offspring of some high-profile graded stakes winners. Unbridled Forever, a daughter of 2006 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Lemons Forever, won the second race of the day and became her dam’s second winner. The Unbridled’s Song filly is a homebred racing for Charles Fipke. The last race on the card was won by Gold Hawk, a colt by Empire Maker and out of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner and champion Caressing (by Honour and Glory). Gold Hawk was bred by Hermitage Farm and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds that bred and races Tapiture, who also became the first graded stakes winner for his dam, Free Spin (by Olympio).
Where will these 2-year-olds go from here? The anticipation is building.