Countdown to the Cup: The Todd Squad
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 10/21/2009 8:41:20 PM
Last Updated: 10/22/2009 8:26:08 AM

Pilgrim winner Eskendereya
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Photo: Coglianese Photos

Whatever name you want to give them, Todd’s Tots, Pletcher’s Pups, you can be sure you’ll be hearing from Todd Pletcher’s 2-year-olds in the Breeders’ Cup juvenile races, and more importantly on next year’s Triple Crown trail. That’s when they really will shine.

 

Pletcher’s youngsters – Aikenite  , Super Saver  , and Eskendereya   in the Grey Goose BC Juvenile (gr. I) and Interactif in the Juvenile Turf – not only are immensely talented, they have classic pedigrees to die for.

 

Aikenite, runner-up in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) and third in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), closing fast both times, has a speed-oriented pedigree on top, but he does have some good stamina influences on the bottom. Super Saver (a close fourth in the grade I Champagne), Eskendereya (runaway winner of the off-the-turf Pilgrim Stakes), and Interactif (winner of the grade III With Anticipation and Bourbon Stakes) all have amazing pedigrees top and bottom that are inundated with class influences.

 

Let’s start with Zayat Stables’ Eskendereya, a son of Giant's Causeway   who showed a couple of gears in the Pilgrim, and when a big hole opened for him at the top of the stretch, he burst through and drew off inside the eighth pole to win by 7 1/4 lengths, showing off his strong, fluid stride. On Oct. 20, he worked a half-mile in :47 3/5 over Belmont’s training track, the fastest of 84 works at the distance.

 

In addition to the big names in his female family, such as broodmare sire Seattle Slew and great-grandsire Alydar, his third dam, Stellar Odyssey, is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade and a half-sister to Kennelot, who is the dam of Stephan's Odyssey (winner of the Hollywood Futurity, Dwyer, Jim Dandy, and Lexington and second in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes) and Lotka (winner of the Acorn, Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup and six other stakes).

 

Stellar Odyssey's dam, Queen Sucree (by Ribot out of Cosmah), is a half-sister to the great mare Tosmah, major stakes winner and top sire Halo (sire of Kentucky Derby winners Sunday Silence and Sunny’s Halo), major stakes winner and top sire Maribeau, and Father's Image (who was a close second to Buckpasser, beaten a half-length, in the Arlington-Washington Futurity).

 

He’s already proven he can run on grass and dirt, and should be a major force on next year’s Kentucky Derby trail.

 

Super Saver, owned by WinStar Farm, turned in a terrific pace figure in the Champagne, setting fast fractions of :22 3/5, :45 3/5, and 1:09 2/5. Although he understandably got a bit tired in the stretch, he never quit and kept battling hard all the way to the wire, getting beat only two lengths for the win and a half-length for second. In his previous start, he won wire-to-wire by seven lengths over a sealed sloppy track.

 

He is a son of Maria’s Mon, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos  . His dam, Supercharger, is a Phipps-bred full-sister (by A.P. Indy) to major stakes horses Girolamo  , Daydreaming, and Accelerator. Supercharger’s dam, Get Lucky, a graded stakes winner by Mr. Prospector, out of Beldame (gr. I) winner Dance Number, is a full sister to Travers (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Rhythm.

 

Dance Number’s dam is the great Numbered Account, making her a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Private Account, sire of Personal Ensign. In continuing with the Best of Phipps, Super Saver is inbred three times to Hall of Famer and Horse of the Year Buckpasser.

 

It doesn’t get any better than this, and this is another colt who will be heard from either this fall or definitely next spring.

 

Aikenite, as we wrote in our last column, closed fast from ninth to finish second, beaten a half-length in the Breeders’ Futurity in his first start around two turns. Not only did the Dogwood Stable colt come home his final sixteenth in under :06, it should be noted that because of the configuration of the track, the finish line was located at the sixteenth pole. So, for him to close the way he did with such a short stretch, it makes his performance all the more impressive. That followed another fast-closing effort in the Hopeful Stakes. With top efforts on dirt and synthetic and a strong and consistent closing punch, he should be rolling late in the BC Juvenile.

 

As we mentioned, his pedigree is mainly speed on top, being by Yes It's True  , a son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Is It True, out of a Clever Trick mare. But his dam, Silverado, is by Saint Ballado, out of the Secretariat mare Silver Clover, who is out of Arlington-Washington Lassie winner Clover Lane.

 

Finally, we have the Wertheimer family’s Interactif, a son of Broken Vow   (by Unbridled), out of the Broad Brush mare Broad Pennant. Second dam, Pennant Champion, is by Mr. Prospector, out of Personal Ensign, so we’re back to the Phippses at their finest.

 

There is an awful lot of toughness in this pedigree. Broad Pennant is by one of the toughest, most durable horses seen in years (Broad Brush, who is by Ack Ack) and is inbred to the brilliant racehorse and sire Hoist the Flag, as well as Turn-to.

 

Interactif likely will be the favorite in the Juvenile Turf following his two authoritative stakes victories on the turf. But there is no doubt this colt is bred to run on dirt.

 

So, get used to these names. You’re going to be hearing them a lot over the next seven months, especially as we get closer to the Kentucky Derby.

 

Not to forget Pletcher’s 2-year-old fillies, he has Frizette (gr. I) winner Devil May Care, a half-sister to BC Classic or Dirt Mile starter Regal Ransom  , winner of the grade II Super Derby and UAE Derby. Another promising stakes winner is Dad's Crazy, who won the off-the-turf Miss Grillo Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths.

 

Pletcher has other heavy hitters in the Breeders’ Cup, such as Quality Road   in the Classic and Cowboy Cal  , as honest a horse as you’ll find, heading for the BC Mile. He also has one of America’s top hopes in the Marathon, Nite Light, a distance specialist who is coming off a game second in the 1 1/4-mile Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II).

 

Sitting on the sidelines awaiting either Breeders’ Cup or other stakes are dual grade I winner Take the Points, who may be pointed for the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT); the brilliant Munnings  , who has been compromised by sloppy tracks in his last three starts; multiple graded stakes winning filly Game Face, and the stretch-running Ready's Echo, who’s been threatening to land a big one.



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