War Pass, who kicked off his 2008 Triple Crown campaign with an allowance victory at Gulfstream Feb. 24, stood as the solid 5-2 favorite as the first day of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 drew to a close March 6.
So, did Saturday's Sham Stakes (gr. III) showcase two exceptional 3-year-olds or was it simply about two top horses running agonizingly slow early and coming home fast late over a synthetic surface? We'll know the answer when they hit the quarter pole at Churchill Downs on May 3.
Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) winner Pyro and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) winner Cool Coal Man headline a talented roster of 167 3-year-olds nominated to Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), to be held Saturday, April 12.
Odds-on choice El Gato Malo fell from the ranks of the unbeaten when Colonel John held the closer off in the final furlong to win the $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita March 1.
On Jan. 19, after Eoin Harty sent Colonel John out for his first recorded workout of the year, he said he'd crank him up from there for the Grade III Sham Stakes. Now it's time to see how hard the crank's been turned.
West Point Thoroughbreds' El Gato Malo puts his unbeaten record on the line against Colonel John and five others in the $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita March 1. Another entrant, Coast Guard, will be scratched due to a minor ankle injury.
Undefeated Triple Crown contender El Gato Malo worked six furlongs at Hollywood Park Feb. 15 in a bullet 1:11 4/5, while across town at Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) winner Crown of Thorns turned in a leisurely drill. The pair is headed for a showdown in the 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita on March 1.
This year's Future Wager field includes some interesting morning line odds, withy only five of the 23 horses higher than 20-1 and only three less than 15-1. That means that 15 horses are either 15-1 or 20-1. That all seems to imply that no one -- not even the oddsmaker -- has a clue what to make of this year's classic crop so far.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES by Alan Porter Following the Breeders' Cup World Championships each year, a major focus for race fans is the game of "spot the classic candidate," with bragging rights for the earliest identification of a future star. Colonel John was added to several lists when the youngster scored an impressive victory in a seven-furlong maiden at the Oak Tree-at-Santa Anita meet, and in all probability he has now moved several places up those lists following a decisive win in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park, an effort which may have earned him a tilt at the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
You know it's early when you start carving into the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) before your Thanksgiving turkey, but this is a good time to start evaluating the 2-year-olds and get a jump on this week's grade II Remsen and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and grade III Hollywood Prevue.
Short-priced favorite Colonel John overcame his inexperience and a rail draw in his first two-turn race to deliver a polished victory in the $105,900 Real Quiet Stakes for 2-year-olds on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track Nov. 18.
WinStar Farm's homebred Colonel John, a 4 1/2-length maiden winner in his last start for trainer Eoin Harty, is the likely favorite in Hollywood Park's $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles over the Cushion Track Nov. 18.
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