In just over a week the calendar will turn over to July but racing’s “2nd half” of 2011 is already underway. When the Triple Crown is over all eyes turn towards the Breeders’ Cup and the now 15 races that will take place between November 4th and 5th at Churchill Downs. Going through some of the major divisions, let’s take a look at horse who are somewhat under the radar right now yet loom as forces to be reckoned with the rest of the year.
3YO FILLIES – KINDA SPICY
She has just a maiden win at this point but the beautifully bred daughter of A.P. Indy debuted with style last Sunday at Belmont Park. A Darley homebred, she is out of the Rich Man’s Gold mare Isola Piu Bella. That name should sound somewhat familiar to racing fans as she came to America after being named Horse of the Year in her native Chile back in 2003. In the US she won graded stakes at Gulfstream and Hawthorne for trainer Todd Pletcher. Kinda Spicy is her 2nd foal to race and trainer Tom Albertrani has already said he believes stakes engagements are right around the corner for this filly.
3YOs – RAISON D’ETAT
It took three starts but this colt barreled home a convincing winner of a maiden race on Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park. Another son of A.P. Indy, this colt is also out of an accomplished mare. His dam is Sightseek, the multiple GI winner who won every Grade I race for females offered at Belmont Park. Trainer Bill Mott also believes in Raison d’Etat as he said races like the Curlin and/or Jim Dandy will be on his agenda.
3YO TURF – STREET GAME
Horses who posted big performances last weekend at Belmont are not supposed to be a theme in this blog post. However, this colt ran arguably the best race of any horse last weekend when he won the Hill Prince. He is rapidly improving as he’s rattled off three wins in a row over the Belmont turf courses and is now a graded stakes winner.
3YO FILLY TURF – BIZZY CAROLINE
It took some time, but this daughter of Afleet Alex has gotten really good for trainer Kenny McPeek. She has now won three in a row, including the Regret on Saturday. Her final time of 1:49.66 compares quite favorably to the final time Banned posted in the Jefferson Cup just an hour before. Look for Bizzy Caroline to show up at Saratoga in an attempt to de-throne Winter Memories as the 3YO female turf division leader.
3YOs – COIL
After breaking his maiden impressively last November this Bob Baffert trainee was sidelined all spring. Since coming back he has won two in a row at Hollywood, including the Affirmed Handicap on June 11. His victory in the Affirmed was his first came in his first try around two turns and it appears as if he’ll be fine as the distances increase.
OLDER SPRINT – GIANT RYAN
After locally based horses swept the graded stakes that comprise the Summit of Speed program at Calder in 2010, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the horses pointing there this year. Giant Ryan is chief among the contenders for the Smile Sprint as he registered his fourth consecutive win in the Ponche Handicap on June 11. For those of you who are wondering, he’s 1 for 1 on wet tracks, so a bit of rain in South Florida on July 9 will not hurt him.
3YO FEMALE SPRINT – ROMAN TREASURE
Ever since an eye-catching maiden win on the inner track I’ve held this filly in high esteem. She was not up to stakes caliber competition in the Cicada back in March but has since returned from a brief freshening an absolute monster. After winning at Parx despite battling through ridiculously fast fractions she made mince meat of the field in last Thursday’s Ms. Royal at Belmont Park. A daughter of Roman Ruler, she is by Jeanne Jones, who was a GI winner and ran 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Kentucky Oaks. Look for Roman Treasure in a little race called the Test.
OLDER TURF – WIGMORE HALL
Does this name sound familiar? He finished 2nd in the Secretariat last year behind Paddy O’ Prado and is scheduled to return to Arlington Park for the Million on August 13. His 2011 campaign has already been busy as he won the Jebel Hatta at Meydan before finishing 3rd in the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night. His recent poor efforts in Asia do not take away from the fact that he’ll be very tough in his 2nd try in America.
OLDER SPRINT – SEAN AVERY
This horse was always fast. The problem was that he had health issues to go along with his speed and that kept him from the races in 2010. New trainer Allen Iwinski brought him along slowly before trying him in the Longfellow at Monmouth on June 5. He couldn’t have been expecting what the colt named for the famed NY Ranger forward would put forth. While the field in the Longfellow was hardly star-studded, he obliterated his rivals en route to earning a 112 Beyer Speed Figure. If Iwinski can keep him in one piece then he’ll be heard from in major sprint races.
3YO – BOLD WARRIOR
The “Chief” had this son of Bernardini entered in the Woody Stephens on Belmont day and wisely scratched him. The latest foal of BC Distaff winner Hollywood Wildcat, you’d like to think Allen Jerkens’ options with him are endless. He’s a half to BC Mile winner War Chant, is already a winner at 7fs and his sire and dam both won GI races at 9 furlongs and beyond! Let’s hope this guy lives up to his potential.
Well, hopefully I uncovered a few interesting horses who you may not be familiar with, as many of these should be in graded stakes company within the next 60 days. Saratoga is right around the corner, so getting familiar with some of the main players up there is always wise. I’ll be back this weekend with a look at some of the graded stakes races from across the country.