Ashado, impressed in the Spinaway.

Ashado, impressed in the Spinaway.

AP/NYRA Adam Coglianese

Countdown to the Cup: Wagon Won't be Hitched to Juvenile

Although Hopeful (gr. I) winner Silver Wagon will not be heading to Santa Anita in October, that's not to say we didn't see any contenders for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last weekend.

While there were other standout performances, one horse who impressed as a Juvenile contender, as well as a horse to watch for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), was the Hopeful third-place finisher Notorious Rogue.

This attractive son of Victory Gallop has a big, beautiful stride, and would have been closer at the finish had Jerry Bailey on Silver Wagon not beaten Eibar Coa to the only hole available at the head of the stretch. While Silver Wagon was able to shoot through the hole and charge past the heavily favored Chapel Royal, Notorious Rogue had to wait before finding room himself. By then, he had no chance of winning, and closed well to finish third, a length behind Chapel Royal.

He is by a Belmont winner, and although his broodmare sire is the speed-oriented Clever Trick, he does have plenty of stamina in his female family through Woodward and Preakness winner Personality, as well as Hail to Reason and Tom Rolfe.

Also, don't discount the Hopeful fourth-place finisher Birdstone, despite the fact that the colt failed to duplicate the brilliance he showed in his maiden victory. The son of Grindstone was forced to race wide, and it was a tall order jumping up to this race off just one start. Although Silver Wagon also was coming off a big maiden score, it was at 7 furlongs and he did have a start prior to that.

To show just how live Silver Wagon was in the Hopeful, Eurosilver, the colt he beat by 7 1/2 lengths in his maiden win, came back to break his maiden by almost 6 lengths on Sep. 1 for Nick Zito. Eurosilver is by Unbridled's Song, and his dam, Russian Tango, is by Nijinsky II out of Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Brave Raj.

Silver Wagon's connections said they want no part of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, because of the race's history of never having had a winner go on to capture the Kentucky Derby. The other reason given was that they don't want to have to ship all the way to California, choosing instead to give the powerful gray colt the time he needs to mature and have him in top shape for the big Gulfstream stakes next winter. This is a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender, with all the attributes you want to see in a young horse.

As for Chapel Royal, trainer Todd Pletcher said we didn't see the real Chapel Royal in the Hopeful. He seemed to be cruising along on the lead turning for home, but had no answer when Silver Wagon came charging up on his inside.

Team Valor looks to have a promising 2-year-old in Tiger Hunt, who is unbeaten in two starts following his powerful come-from-behind victory in the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes at River Downs on Sep. 1. As he did in his maiden score at Churchill Downs, the son of Kris S., trained by Elliott Walden, came charging late, making up a ton of ground in the final furlong.

Distance definitely will not pose a problem to this colt, who is out of a Conquistador Cielo mare, and his great-grandsire on his tail-female side is the stamina-laden One For All. His great-granddam, Aldonza, produced the versatile multiple stakes winner Purple Mountain, and this is the family of a number of top-class stakes winners, such as Heavenly Prize, Petite Rouge, Two Punch, Champagne Charlie, Bounding Basque, and El Basco. He has a mouth-watering 1.78 dosage index, with a great number of Classic influences. Team Valor paid $170,000 for him at the Saratoga yearling sale.

The scourge of the Midwest so far has been the undefeated Cactus Ridge, who has torn through Arlington Park, Canterbury Park, and most recently Ellis Park, winning his three races by an average margin of 7 3/4 lengths. On Aug. 17, the son of Hennessy romped by 6 1/2 lengths in the James C. Ellis Juvenile Stakes after having coasted home by 15 lengths in the Canterbury Park Juvenile.

Ruling Florida is Sir Oscar, a son of Halo's Image who is undefeated in four starts, including stakes victories in the Aug. 30 Affirmed Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, the Dr. Fager Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, and the Criterium Stakes, all at Calder for trainer Manny Azpurua.

On Aug. 30 at Del Mar, Bob Baffert sent out the Silver Charm colt, Consecrate to break his maiden by 6 lengths for Jim McIngvale in his third career start. The colt was purchased at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $130,000. Another Baffert/McIngvale colt to watch is Cooperation, a son of Halo's Image who broke his maiden by 7 lengths on Aug. 17 in his second career start. He was purchased by McIngvale at Ocala last August for $200,000.

The leader of the California 2-year-olds is Perfect Moon, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile (gr. III) and Best Pal (gr. II), who has already run seven times this year, including once for a claiming tag. Trained by Mel Stute, the Maryland-bred gelding is by the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon. Talk about bargain basement purchases, Stute picked him out at the Timonium yearling sale for a paltry $4,700.

One intriguing horse to keep an eye on is Soaring Away, a striking son of Skip Away who became the first horse to wear the silks of Skip Away's owner Carolyn Hine since the death of husband Sonny Hine. Trainer Joe Orseno, preferring a distance race over a sprint, decided to put the colt on the grass for his career debut on at Saratoga Aug. 28 even thought he had never worked over it. Soaring Away, dead-last in the 10-horse field, turned in an electrifying run through the stretch after circling the entire field to win by a half-length. The colt, a $32,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland September, has several partners, including Post Time U.S.A. publisher Gene Stevens.

The fastest 6-furlong time of the Saratoga meet for a 2-year-old was registered on Aug. 22 by Darley Stable's Flushing Meadows, a son of Grand Slam, who broke his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:10 flat for trainer Eoin Harty. Previously, he had broken his maiden impressively at Hollywood Park before finishing a well-beaten third in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II).

Two of the main things you love to see a 2-year-old do is show brilliance and fearlessness. That's exactly what we saw from first-timer Purge earlier in the Saratoga meet. The son of Pulpit squeezed through the narrowest of openings along the rail, then bounded away to win by 4 lengths in a swift 1:10 4/5.

The upcoming Futurity Stakes (gr. I) promises to be an exciting match between the runaway Sanford (gr. II) winner Cuvee and the brilliant maiden winner Value Plus, who like Purge and Chapel Royal comes from the powerful Todd Pletcher barn.

On the Juvenile Fillies front, we saw two standout performances this past week. At Del Mar, the Unbridled filly, Halfbridled, dominated the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I), drawing off to a 5-length victory under Julie Krone, with the favored Victory U.S.A. finishing third. Halfbridled, trained by Dick Mandella, covered the 7 furlongs in a sharp 1:22 1/5. She previously had broken her maiden by 4 1/2 lengths at Del Mar. with her pedigree, she will have no distance limitations.

In the Spinaway (gr. I) at Saratoga the day before, the Todd Pletcher-trained Ashado remained unbeaten by scoring a gutsy 1 1/4-length victory over the D. Wayne Lukas-trained filly Be Gentle. In her previous start, Ashado had won the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. II) by 3 lengths in the slop. Like Halfbridled, she is bred to run all day, being by Saint Ballado from a distance-loving female family.

In the Sorority Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth on Aug. 30, Feline Story, by Tale of the Cat, trained by Stanley Hough, romped by 5 3/4 lengths in a sharp 1:10 4/5 as the 7-5 favorite.