The Cliff's Edge, another impressive juvenile stakes winner for Zito.

The Cliff's Edge, another impressive juvenile stakes winner for Zito.


Kentucky Derby Trail: New Shooters Emerge: Zito Still Loading Up

This is the 10th in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. Several promising colts emerged from maiden races over the past week, while the two weekend stakes produced solid results.

Smoke Glacken or no Smoke Glacken, it sure doesn't look like Read the Footnotes is having any problems stretching out. With his emphatic victory in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), he's already handled nine furlongs without a problem, and even managed to earn a whopping 105 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. In the past we'd add, but he's a New York-bred. Now, it's and he's a New York-bred. After 2003 graded stakes winners Funny Cide, Whitmore's Conn, Spite the Devil, and Go Rockin Robin, and now Read the Footnotes, this just may be a breakout year for the New York breeding program..

Even though Smoke Glacken was primarily a sprinter, he really was bred to be more of middle distance horse, and Read the Footnotes' female family is loaded with stamina through Vaguely Noble and Lyphard. It is those two stallions in his third generation that give him a solid 8-2-12-0-2 dosage profile and 2.00 DI.

In the last report, we went into detail on Master David, and the English invader ran a super race to finish second, almost 11 lengths ahead of the third horse, while cutting into the winner's lead in the final furlong. Although he never threatened Read the Footnotes, you have to love his :12 3/5 final eighth running into a headwind, over a track that was playing one to two seconds slow all day. And remember, as we discussed last time, he has a female family inundated with stamina influences, like Sadler's Wells and Graustark, along with Affirmed.

Down in Kentucky, Nick Zito fired another bullet, winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) with The Cliff's Edge. Although his three-quarters of a length margin was much smaller than in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III), he was very impressive, making an early move to the lead after being last in the opening quarter. After a long, sustained run, he still had that long Churchill stretch to deal with, and held stubbornly as the promising Gran Prospect continued to put the pressure on.

Although's Zito's other classic hopeful Saturday, El Prado Rob, flattened out after making a big move on the turn, the colt bled slightly and came out of the race with mucus in his lungs. But Zito's New York foray was not a total loss, as he unleashed yet another potential Derby horse earlier in the day, sending out first-timer Pies Prospect to break his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:24 4/5 for the seven furlongs. Zito has always been very high on this colt, and although he's by the speed influence, Crafty Prospector, his female family is very strong. His broodmare sire is the distance-loving Bates Motel, a son of English Derby winner Sir Ivor, and his maternal great-grandsire is Horse of the Year Arts and Letters, a son of Ribot who won the Belmont Stakes and 2-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. He has a DI of 3.53.

Another maiden winner to keep an eye on is Capac, a son of Deputy Minister, out of a Seeking the Gold mare who broke his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths in the slop, going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs. Trained by Mike Bell, this colt has a ton of stamina. His dam is out of a Nijinsky II mare and is inbred to Tom Fool's sire Menow, and is a half-sister to the top-class English stakes winner Lucky Song, winner of the group II Park Hill Stakes and second in the group III Lancashire Oaks. Capac has a strong DI of 1.77.

At Hollywood Park, Bob Baffert was pretty convinced that the towering Wimbledon would have no trouble breaking his maiden in his first start back after shin problems. The son of Wild Rush was coming off a sensational 7-furlong work in 1:22. But even though Wimbledon was beaten 6 lengths by the Bob Hess-trained Dwango, Baffert loved the way Julie Krone got him to relax, and was happy with his second-place finish.

The winner looks to be a very talented colt in his own right, covering the 6 1/2 furlongs in a blazing 1:15 1/5. He's by Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) winner Royal Academy, out of the Deputed Testamony mare Sweet Bunny, who made 46 starts and earned over $200,000. His pedigree is not quite as strong as his 1.13 DI would indicate, but he should have no problems stretching out.

Speaking of Baffert, his latest purchase, Misty'sgoldentouch, got right into the Baffert program by working a half in :47 2/5. Baffert also is happy to have Odds On back on the work tab after recovering from shin problems. The son of Silver Charm worked an easy three furlongs in :36 1/5.

Also on the work tab this week was Hopeful (gr. I) winner Silver Wagon, who prepped for the Whatapleasure Stakes by breezing a mile in 1:46 4/5 for trainer Ralph Ziadie.

Back in California, the brilliant Prevue (gr. II) winner Lion Heart, tuned up for the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) with a 5-furlong work in :59 flat for Patrick Biancone.

One colt we haven't mentioned yet who bears watching next year is Notorious Rogue, who has been sidelined since his disappointing effort in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I). Prior to that, the son of Victory Gallop ran a big third in the Hopeful, getting beaten to a hole by the winner, Silver Wagon, then having to hesitate before finally rallying through the stretch. This colt has a great mixture of speed and stamina, and is inbred 5x4 to stamina influence Tom Rolfe. He has a 2.33 DI.

Another colt who has performed well at 2 is the Elliott Walden-trained Under Caution, who broke his maiden going a mile at Arlington Park in his third career start back in early September for WinStar Farm. He's by A.P. Indy, out of a Storm Cat mare and has a 3.36 DI.