Are colts who are good runners at 2 better stallions? I’m going to get into this a bit more later, but just looking at the current top ten sires list, there’s Into Mischief (won the Gr. 1 CashCall Futurity), Tapit (Gr. 3 Laurel Futurity), Hard Spun (two-time stakes winner at 2), Street Sense (champion 2yo and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner), and even though they weren’t stakes winners, Quality Road and Kitten’s Joy were both winners at 2. Both sires of recent Triple Crown winners, Pioneerof the Nile and Scat Daddy, were Grade 1 winners at 2. Something? Nothing? And how does that predict how stallions like American Pharoah, Justify, Arrogate, Mendelssohn, Good Magic, Nyquist, Frosted will fare?
Chad Brown came to win on Arlington Millon day, taking all four graded stakes on the card. Bricks and Mortar wins the Million, (I thought the top 3 in the Million all ran a solid race), Sistercharlie in the Beverly D. Those two have to be the leaders in their divisions right now. Valid Point won the Secretariat in only his third start, and looks like he has plenty of potential. I was there for the homestretch of Charlie Whittingham’s career, and got to see Bobby Frankel from you know, mid 90-s on, but what Chad’s doing is really impressive. I’ll leave it to others for superlatives, and historical rankings, but days like the Million, and sweeping the graded stakes, wow.
Got Stormy winning the Gr.1 Fourstardave on 7 days rest. (She did get weight from the runner-up and third place, but they weren’t catching her) She looked great winning the De La Rose the week prior, and has had a nice 2019, going 3 for 5, and hitting the board in the Gr. 1 Jenny Wiley and the Gr. 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. For a deep dive on Get Stormy, the sire of Got Stormy (and 2yo winner, though he did most of his damage later), check out Got Stormy?
Fasig-Tipton concluded four days of auctions at Saratoga, with sons of Curlin leading the top end of the market. He’s probably the best dirt sire in the U.S. right now, right? Into Mischief is having an incredible year, but with those three at Saratoga (and an average of $835,000 at that sale), plus the $3 million plus 2yo at Gulfstream now with Bob Baffert, (and another seven-figure 2yo at the same sale) the money shows up for Curlin at auction. The average and median were up at the Saratoga Select sale, and it seems safe to say the high end of yearling auctions is healthy. The New York-bred portion of the auction saw dips in both average and median from 2018, but did have a slightly better RNA number from the previous year. So, that’s the environment as we get ready for Keeneland in September.
It was probably just an anomaly, but I subscribed to it, as did many others. Before Justify, the Kentucky Derby remained an elusive prize for sons of the Storm Cat sire line. Does Justify winning the Derby open the door for more Storm Cat line stallions? I first think of Into Mischief, and how the types of mares he’s now getting could earn a Derby win. Maybe Justify himself, or his crop-mate (and half-brother to Into Mischief) Mendelssohn. For most of this century, the Derby has been the domain of sons of the Mr. Prospector line, and that will probably continue. The general notion was Storm Cat runners were distance-challenged, and a mile and a quarter was too much. Is that still the case? That’s why we run the races.
It’s Pacific Classic weekend at Del Mar. Seeking the Soul, last out winner of the Stephen Foster, and runner-up in the Dubai World Cup, heads west for Dallas Stewart and John Velazquez, and is a lukewarm favorite. Pavel, 2nd in the 2018 Pacific Classic to Accelerate, and Quip, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap and a good 2nd to Seeking the Soul in the Foster are probably the main threats to the favorite, but you could make an argument for many. With a win by For the Top, Bob Baffert would tie Bobby Frankel for the most wins in Del Mar’s signature race, each having won six times.
Also at Del Mar this weekend is the Gr. 1 Del Mar Oaks, with 3yo fillies going nine furlongs on the turf. Cambier Parc (Chad Brown, Medaglia D’ Oro) headlines, but Brown has another filly in the race in Dogtag (War Front) and with 14 runners entered, you have a lot of options. The Del Mar Oaks has been won by East Coast based trainers five of the last nine runnings (including Vicki Oliver, who has Wildlife in this year).
Saratoga has the Alabama Saturday, for 3yo fillies going a mile and a quarter. Talk about a race with history. Recent winners include names like Songbird, Questing, Royal Delta, Blind Luck and Proud Spell, and then when you go back aways, Silverbulletday, Heavenly Prize, Go for Wand, Open Mind, Our Mims. The 2019 edition has a talented field, and no clear cut favorite.
That’s about it for this week, thanks for reading everyone. I’ll leave with a photo I took of Enable, heading out to train last year at Churchill before the Breeders’ Cup. It’s not the best photo ever… I was 75% asleep, nursing some coffee on a golf cart, and then like the Beatles in 1964, comes a throng of people, and there she was. I got a picture from the perspective many horses have seen recently. Enable runs next Thursday in the Yorkshire Oaks, her (probable) last race before the Arc in October. See you next week! Travers week!