Kentucky Derby Trail: Master Of His New Domain?

This is the ninth in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. The migration of Europeans to the Derby trail begins Saturday when English-trained Master David tackles the Remsen Stakes for new owner Peter Minikes.

Minikes struck gold this fall when he purchased the Brian Meehan-trained filly Buy the Sport, then watched her win the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) before turning her over to trainer Bobby Barbara. Minikes hasn't decided yet whether he'll do the same with Master David, also trained by Meehan, or have him return to England. Obviously, a lot will depend on how he does in the Remsen.

Master David has started three times, finishing second in photos in his first two starts. Most recently, he won a 7-furlong maiden race by 1 1/4 lengths at Thirsk. The most interesting thing about him is that he has plenty of dirt breeding. By the red-hot young sire Grand Slam, he is out of a Sadler's Wells mare. His second dam is the stakes-winning Bint Pasha, by Affirmed, and his third dam is by Graustark. So, there is a good mixture of turf and dirt. He's also inbred 5x4 to Graustark, and inbred to Raise a Native and Northern Dancer. He has a dosage profile of 8-1-14-5-0 and a 1.33 DI. He was consigned to the Keeneland November Mixed sale as a weanling, but was taken out of the sale. He then failed to meet his reserve at the Keeneland September yearling and was a $70,000 buy-back before finally selling as a 2-year-old at Calder for $100,000.

We mentioned in the last report that Bobby Frankel has purchased another 2-year-old, as the battle continues between the buying Bobs – Frankel and Baffert. Frankel's latest purchase is Ice Wynnd Fire, a son of Northern Afleet who won his debut at Calder 6 3/4 lengths before finishing second by a head to Heart of Jules in a 5-furlong allowance/optional claiming race in :58 2/5. We don't know far this colt wants to go. His broodmare sire is the little known Family Doctor, a son of Dr. Fager, out of the Greentree mare Aiming High II, which makes him a half-brother to Belmont Stakes runner-up and Manhattan Handicap winner Ruritania. You probably also never heard of his maternal great-grandsire, Plunk, but this stakes-winning son of Seaneen twice finished ahead of Forego – when second in the Suburban Handicap and third in the Governor Stakes. He has a DI of 3.50.

We've already talked about buzz horses at Turf Paradise, Sam Houston, and Woodbine, so now let's head to Philadelphia Park, the home of Pennsylvania-bred Smarty Jones. Although this son of Elusive Quality looks like he'll want no part of 1 1/4 miles, his owners have already turned down substantial offers for him. After breaking his maiden at 6 furlongs by 7 3/4 lengths in 1:11, earning a big speed figure, he trounced his opposition by 15 lengths in the state-bred Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, blazing 7 furlongs in 1:21 4/5. And that's after breaking slowly. His dam, I'll Get Along, a stakes winner of over $270,000, is by champion sprinter Smile, out of a Foolish Pleasure mare. He does have stamina in his tail-female fourth generation through Herbager, which helps account for his 3.40 DI.

Earlier, we mentioned Heart of Jules, who beat Ice Wynnd Fire. This son of Jules stopped to a walk in his first two starts, but has won his last two after trainer Donna Green took the blinkers off him. Dam is by Dixieland Band, out of a Strike Gold mare, and he has a DI of 3.00.

Another son of Northern Afleet who bears watching is Saint Afleet, who after finishing far back in his debut following a terrible start, broke his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09 4/5 at Hollywood Park for Craig Dollase. Plenty of stamina in his female family, through broodmare sire Saint Ballado and great-grandsire Fluorescent Light, a son of Herbager, out of the Ribot mare Irradiate. DI of 1.59.

John Ward has an interesting colt in Grand Score, who was third in the Iroquois Stakes after breaking his maiden by a half-length at Keeneland. Ward paid $900,000 for the son of Grand Slam, who is out of a Time For a Change mare. Not sure how far he wants to go. DI of 3.00.

Baffert's latest purchase, Misty'sGoldentouch, arrived at Santa Anita two days ago. Although the colt is on the smallish side, Baffert says he has a great shoulder on him.

In the next report, we'll see if anything exciting emerged from the Remsen and Kentucky Jockey Club, and take a look at who might be running in next month's Hollywood Futurity.