Season of hope shifts to potential as babies hit the track

The earliest 2-year-olds have begun to emerge at tracks across North America.

by Brett Sturman

After months of training down, it’s that time of year where 2-year-olds start to make their public debuts on the racetrack. To this point, trainers may have a sense for what type of young horse that they have on their hands, but they haven’t really known for sure. Competition in the form of qualifying races against horses from other barns is where the rubber begins to meet the road.

Adding to the anticipation are the 2-year-olds that reflect a new sires first crop. For this year, former foals now of racing age from highly-touted trotting sires Greenshoe and Six Pack, and Captain Crunch on the pacing side. As these 2-year-olds hit the track in the coming weeks it’ll still be way too premature to pass any judgement on the success of their sires, but even the earliest indications of things to come can be of interest.

This past week, 2-year-old qualifiers have gotten underway in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario. Action is starting in New Jersey as well, with baby races at The Meadowlands yesterday (Saturday) and another slate of 2-year-old races on tap tomorrow (Monday) at Gaitway Farm.

Some notables thus far in the super early going include a horse named Four Sixes, the first ever (qualifying) winner by Six Pack. A winner in 2:02 last week at The Meadows, Four Sixes was a $30,000 yearling buy from the Lexington Selected Sale last year. Out of the mare Highland Glider, he comes from the same family of world champion Godiva Hall.

To date, the fastest 2-year-old is Rose Run Zeke, who won by close to 10 lengths in 1:56.3 at The Meadows. He’s by Stay Hungry, who impressed last year as a first-crop sire. That group included plenty of fast winners including one that went in 1:49.2, and his highest earners included Three Diamonds winner, Zanatta, as well as Annapolis Hanover. Perhaps Zeke could be a sign of things to come in the sire’s second racing crop.

In Ohio, a 2-year-old trotter by Walner named Pick Pocket went in a rather remarkably fast 1:58.3 in a qualifier at Northfield Park last week. The proceeding qualifier that morning on the pace was won by a Captaintreacherous horse in 1:58 and of interest in that race, was third-place finisher Beautiful Lather, who reflects the first 2-year-old to qualify for new Ohio-sire and former world record holder Lather Up.

Saturday morning at The Meadowlands saw the debut of several Greenshoe babies, though they were upended at first asking by offspring from some other prolific sires. A Father Patrick filly named The Moment, who was a $95,000 Harrisburg buy, won the morning’s fastest race in 1:59.4. Father Patrick had another winner in the morning as well; a colt named Alfaromeo in 2:01.1, whose dam is a full sibling to Southwind Frank. A Greenshoe 2-year-old named Call Of The Wild came close in that morning’s second baby race, when he lost by just a head to a Chapter Seven colt named Situationship in a race that went in 2:00.4. Another Chapter Seven colt, this one named Wild Ticket and a $200,000 Lexington Selected Sale yearling buy, won the mornings final baby race in the same 2:00.4 clocking. Pricey $200,000 Walner filly Dreaming Of Sydney was another winner in the morning, her win coming in 2:03.2.

In the upcoming 2-year-old qualifiers at Gaitway Farm on Monday, the fourth race will give the first glimpse into sire Captain Crunch. A colt named Blood Bond, by Captain Crunch, was a $100,000 purchase from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and comes from an impeccable pedigree. He’s a half to Grand Circuit stakes winners Blood Brother and Bloodline (both Somebeachsomewhere), as well as Blood Money (Sweet Lou). Second dam Arterra produced world champion If I Can Dream, 3-year-old pacing colt of the year and successful sire Western Terror, as well as Cinderalla Guy. He’ll be trained by Ron Burke.

The highest priced 2-year-old to race on that card will be Mirage Hanover (Bettor’s Delight) in the sixth race. A $175,000 yearling purchase from Harrisburg, Mirage Hanover is a half to Mad Max Hanover (Always B Miki). Jake Leamon, who trained Mad Max Hanover, a $50,000 yearling that went on to take a 1:47.4 mark last year at 3 in a Tompkins-Geers split, as well as being second in last year’s Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace, will also train Mirage Hanover.

The lone Greenshoe on the qualifying card comes in the first race, where a filly named Cahira Hanover debuts as an $80,000 Harrisburg buy. The third foal from an unsuspecting dam thus far, her third dam Image Control was an O’Brien winner back in 1998 and produced fellow O’Brien trotting filly award winner Pure Ivory, who took home the honor in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006.

Another one of the higher priced yearlings to take to the track Monday will be in the fifth race, when a colt by Captaintreacherous named Concealed makes his first start. A $160,000 Lexington buy, he’s the first foal out of the dam Unseen, and his third dam produced the great Glowing Report, as well as other sub 1:50 winners Perfect Union and Urgent Action.