The sky will not be the limit should the 'Sky' exacta hit Saturday at Keeneland in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II). The heavy favorite in the race will be Sky Mesa and the second choice will probably be Lone Star Sky.
The Breeders' Futurity, for which a large field is not expected, is one of three major preps this weekend for the Oct. 26 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The others are the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park in New York and the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in California.
Sky Mesa should be odds-on based on his perfect two-for-two record in his young racing career. The son of Pulpit broke his maiden Aug. 3 at Saratoga by an easy 7 3/4 lengths. He then came back to take the Hopeful Stakes Aug. 31 by 1 3/4 lengths.
Owned by John Oxley, Sky Mesa is trained by John T. Ward Jr.
Ward chose the Breeders' Futurity over the Champagne because he wanted Sky Mesa to get a two-turn race under his belt. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile this year at Arlington Park is nine furlongs around two turns.
Lone Star Sky has won three of four starts for trainer Tom Amoss. The Conquistador Cielo colt is coming off a win in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs over Labor Day weekend. Prior to that, he finished second in the Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) after having won his first two starts. He is owned by Walter "Buddy" New.
The Breeders' Futurity could also include Private Gold and Tito's Beau, who ran second and third, respectively, behind Vindication in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park on Sept. 14.
The favorite in Saturday's Champagne Stakes could be a colt making his first start in New York, and one who probably won't go on to the Breeders' Cup. Trainer Bob Baffert shipped Icecoldbeeratreds to New York because he wanted to keep the colt around one turn. The son of In Excess has won three of four starts, his most recent outing a two-length win in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II). Icecoldbeeratreds races for Mike Pegram.
The two-three finishers in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga will also receive plenty of support. The winner of that race was Sky Mesa. Finishing second was Pretty Wild (by Wild Again), who came back to run second in the Futurity Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Sept. 15. Running third in the Hopeful was Zavata (by Phone Trick), who has not started since that Aug. 31 race. Pretty Wild is owned by Paul Robsham and trained by Stan Hough, while Zavata is conditioned by Patrick Biancone for Michael Tabor.
The Norfolk is not coming up very strong, with nary a graded stakes winner mentioned among the probables. Baffert sends out several who were beaten by Icecoldbeeratreds in the Del Mar Futurity, including Jim McIngvase's Bull Market, who ran sixth, and The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Kafwain, who finished second.
Others in the Norfolk might include dual sprint stakes winner Mr. Technique, recent Fairplex stakes winner Manhattan Express, and recent maiden winners Listen Indy, Man Among Men, and Royal Siphon.
In Europe, the race to watch is Thursday, when Elusive City runs in the group I Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. Owned by The Thoroughbred Corp., the Elusive Quality colt is unbeaten in three starts. He is trained by Gerard Butler. Among those he will face are Mill Reef Stakes (Eng-II) winner Zafeen and Gimcrack Stakes (Eng-II) winner Country Reel.
The colt to watch from last weekend's results is Most Feared, who is trained by Ronny Werner. The conditioner follows such well knowns as D. Wayne Lukas and Baffert who converted over from Quarter Horses. Most Feared, who won the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III), is unlike many Werner has trained because he appears to want longer distances. He won the Futurity by three and had the advantage of a race over the track where the Breeders' Cup will be run. Most Feared is a homebred of Tom Durant, Werner's main client.