Kentucky Derby Trail: 2-Year-Old Riches Still Abound

This is the eighth in a series of early looks at next year's potential Derby horses. With the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) and Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) to be run Saturday, and the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) next month, there still are a number of exciting 2-year-olds who could vault into prominence.

Nick Zito, who was discussed in the first report, is well set with Birdstone and Eurosilver, and Saturday should tell us just how deep he is, as he sends out Iroquois (gr. III) winner The Cliff's Edge in the Kentucky Jockey Club and grade I-placed El Prado Rob in the Remsen.

We've already mentioned most of the horses pointing for the Remsen in our last report, and now we'll focus on the Kentucky Jockey Club. It seems as if the majority of the field will consist of the horses coming out of a Nov. 9 allowance at Churchill Downs, including the first two finishers, Proper Prado and Gran Prospect. The fourth and fifth-place finishers, Jamian and Saltire, also are expected.

Of these, Gran Prospect appears to be an improving colt who will relish the longer distances. Trained by Pete Vestal, he's by Crafty Prospector, who is not known for siring long-distance horses. But this colt's female family is inundated with stamina. Not only does he have major classic influences Roberto and Hail to Reason, but his dam is inbred 3x3 to Nijinsky II. He has a dosage profile of 12-6-18-2-0 and a 2.45 DI. He has shown a powerful closing kick in his last three races and had to circle his field six-wide in his last start after rallying from the back of the pack.

Proper Prado rallied just inside Gran Prospect and stormed to a 1 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole, then held his advantage to win by 1 1/4 lengths. This was a big improvement for the son of El Prado, who was coming off two fifth-place finishes, one on the turf, for trainer Bob Holthus. Prior to that, he was a fast-closing fourth in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Park and a well-beaten second in the James Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park, where he had broken his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths. There is no doubt this is a tough, hard-knocking youngster, who has plenty of stamina to go along with his toughness. Although he has a strong dosage profile of 7-7-13-4-1 and 1.78 DI, there are still a lot of 1 1/8-mile influences in his pedigree. We'll see if he can take another step forward in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

One intriguing colt is Jamian, who still has to make up eight lengths off his allowance race, but he had traffic problems in the stretch and was pretty much bottled up with little running room. He certainly deserves another shot at these horses. In his prior race, he came off close seconds in a pair of sprints and stretched out to a mile to break his maiden in the slop by three-quarters of a length. What we love most about this colt is his pedigree. He's by an exciting young sire in Arch, and his broodmare sire is Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I)winner Proud Truth, a stamina-laden son of Graustark who stands in Panama. So, you don't see many pedigrees with Proud Truth so dominant. His second dam is by the brilliant Cyane out of an Ack Ack mare, and is a half-sister to Jane Lunger's (of Go For Wand fame) grade I winners Broom Dance (Alabama) and Salem (Belmont Futurity). His dosage profile of 2-5-15-3-1 is extremely strong, as is his 1.26 DI. Now, he just has to get tested for class. He'll be a big price on Saturday.

Saltire is a $575,000 Saratoga yearling purchase, trained by Wayne Lukas, who also lacked room in the stretch after breaking maiden going 7 furlongs at Keeneland. By Kingmambo, he has an unsual female family. His dam, Clandestine Caller, was a stakes winner of almost $250,000, and is by champion sprinter Housebuster, out of a mare by English and Irish Derby winner The Minstrel. He has a DI of 3.31.

Another colt with a fascinating pedigree is Suave, trained by Paul McGee. Still has a lot of improving to do, coming off a nose maiden win at Churchill Downs, going 1 1/16 miles. He's by A.P. Indy, out of $1 million earner Urbane. And while his broodmare sire, Citidancer, is mostly mile breeding, his maternal granddam is by Pleasant Colony, out of a half-sister to Lyphard and Nobiliary, by Reviewer. In case you don't remember Nobiliary, she acomplished a rare feat by finishing second in the English Derby (Eng-I), and also won the Washington D.C. International (gr. IT) and other top-class races. DI of 2.67.

Commendation is 3-for-4 on the grass for trainer Graham Motion, and is coming off a victory in the Bourbon County Stakes at Keeneland. By Capote, out of a Rubiano mare, there is a question how far he wants to go. But has solid DI of. 2.67, and although he ran a dismal race in his only dirt start, he is bred more for the dirt, and might just have improved with maturity. Interesting grass to dirt switch.
Trainer John Kimmel, has a colt who definitely bears watching. If you're looking for a New York-bred who can follow in the footsteps of Funny Cide, it could be Friends Lake. After breaking his maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga in a solid 1:17 over Pa Pa Da, whom we mentioned last week, he beat Pa Pa Da again by 3 1/2 lengths in the state-bred Sleepy Hollow Stakes, a race won by Funny Cide. His time of 1:36 1/5 for the mile also was solid, and he had to overcome a bumping incident. Another son of A.P. Indy, his dam, Antespend, earned over $1 million and won three grade I stakes, including the Santa Anita Oaks. Her pedigree is all Argentine stamina. By stakes-winning Practicante, out of the classy Argentine-bred mare Auspiciante, an earner of over $400,000. DI of 3.00.

Kimmel could be represented in the Remsen by Big Booster, a son of the ill-fated Accelerator, an Ogden Phipps-bred colt by A.P. Indy from the family of Dance Number and Numbered Account. Broodmare sire is Topsider, and granddam is by the great Australian superstar Tobin Bronze, who was all stamina. Dam is inbred 4x4 to Buckpasser. DI of 2.67. But he has a lot of improving to do off his well-beaten fourth in the Nashua Stakes

One promising colt who will not be running this weekend is Gradepoint, from the barn of Neil Howard. This son of, yes, A.P. Indy, came from far back to break his maiden by 1 3/4 lengths at Keeneland, going 1 1/16 miles. In his only other start, he was a close third to Big Booster at a mile. He popped an abscess in his hind foot, which will keep him out of the Kentucky Jockey Club. Like many A.P. Indys, he's been slow to come around mentally, and Howard feels he'll improve with racing. He's a big, good-looking colt and will be one to keep an eye on at Fair Grounds. His dam, Class Kris, by Kris S., earned almost $600,000. Tail-female family is all Fred Hooper, with names like Copelan, Susan's Girl, Tri Jet, and Crozier. Dosage profile of 5-4-14-1-0 and a 2.00 DI.

Howard also has high hopes for Breakaway, who showed a great deal of improvement last time with blinkers added. After a pair of seconds and a pair of fourths, he put in a big run from 12th and just missed catching Suave in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race. He's by Silver Deputy, out of stakes-winning Make Haste, by Cure the Blues. Second dam is by Gulch out of a Round Table mare. He has a 6-2-6-2-0 dosage profile and 2.20 DI. Another colt to watch at Fair Grounds after he breaks his maiden.

Finally, Bobby Frankel could have a live one in Major Success, who broke his maiden Sunday by 2 lengths, going 1 1/16 miles and getting an 87 Beyer. Came back to defeat favorite Boomzeeboom, who had beaten him when second to the brilliant Lion Heart. By Mazel Trick, out of a Damascus mare, with strong pedigree influences in female family through Key to the Mint and Graustark. DI of 2.60. Frankel has also purchased a colt from Calder name Ice Wynnd Fire, whom we'll discuss in the next report.