July 25th marked arguably the best day for 2yo racing so far this year, with a quartet of intriguing races being held at Saratoga and one more being run at Del Mar. Here’s a recap of all the action!
Saratoga Race 1: Maiden Special Weight
5 1/2 furlongs on dirt
Mark Casse’s Moon King, who sold for $675,000 as a 2yo-in-training earlier this year, was heavily favored to win while facing five rivals, but after carving out solid fractions of :22.75 and :46.30, he tired in the homestretch and finished fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths for the win. However, as a son of Malibu Moon out of a Seeking the Gold mare, Moon King is bred to improve with distance, and I think he’s a colt to watch in the future.
In the meantime, Realm scored an impressive victory, tracking Moon King’s pace before taking command and drawing off to win in the time of 1:05 flat. Trained by Barclay Tagg, the Virginia-bred son of Haynesfield looked good running the final three-sixteenths of a mile in about :18 3/5 and is another colt that should be capable of running farther. War Stroll, from the barn of Kenny McPeek, rallied well in the final furlong to edge the stretch-running Add Four by a nose for second, with each colt gaining more than four lengths on Realm in the final furlong. Add Four, in turn, finished a nose in front of Moon King. Totally Discreet, a first-time starter from the barn of Nick Zito, showed interest while chasing the pace for the first three furlongs before steadily retreating to finish last of six. However, Zito’s runners often need a race or two before they’re ready to win, and Totally Discreet showed flashes of speed and might be on to keep an eye on.
Saratoga Race 3: Maiden Special Weight
8 1/2 furlongs on turf
The Bill Mott-trained first-time starter Site Read was one of the longest shots in the field at 21-1, but ran more like a 1-5 favorite when scoring a spectacular victory. Reserved a dozen lengths off the early lead by jockey Jose Lezcano, Site Read began to rally strongly in the second half of the race, and entering the homestretch, the son of Tizdejavu burst clear of his rivals and drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths while running the final five-sixteenths of a mile in about :28 4/5 — wow! Off of that performance, Site Read must be considered to be among the early favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) in October at Keeneland. Chad Brown’s first-time starter Life Imitates Art rallied well on the far turn before flattening out in the homestretch to finish second in a nice debut, while Swagger Jagger tracked fast fractions of :22.78, :46.40, and 1:11.42 before tiring to finish third. Smarty Kitten looked like a winner when putting in an eye-catching rally on the final turn, but drifted out at the top of the stretch and tired thereafter to finish sixth by 10 1/2 lengths. However, the move he made on the far turn was impressive enough to suggest that Smarty Kitten won’t be a maiden for much longer.
Saratoga Race 5: Maiden Special Weight
5 1/2 furlongs on dirt
Todd Pletcher won his first 2yo race of the meet when he sent out 6-1 shot Saratoga Mischief to score a narrow victory in this 5 1/2-furlong sprint. The son of Into Mischief settled 1 1/2 lengths off the pace through an opening quarter-mile in :22.32, then gradually advanced on the outside to take command and hold off an impressive late rally from Greenpointcrusader. The latter, a Dominick Schettino-trained runner that was making his debut, rated in fifth early on before closing 2 1/4 lengths on Saratoga Mischief in the final furlong to just miss winning. Both colts ran very well, as the final time of 1:04.23 was substantially quicker than the time of 1:05 posted by Realm in the first race. Show Bound made an early rally from sixth to reach contention in the homestretch before flattening out to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Greenpointcrusader.
Saratoga Race 9: Sanford Stakes (gr. III)
In a race that featured a controversially disqualification, Rudy Rodriguez’ Magna Light went straight to the lead through fractions of :22.52 and :45.98, opened up a commanding two-length lead in the homestretch, then ducked outward sharply under left-handed urging before drifting back inward to interfere with eventual third-place finisher Percolator. Despite his swerving in the homestretch, Magna Light held on to win by three-quarters of a length over Todd Pletcher’s Uncle Vinny in the time of 1:10.92, but was disqualified to third for his interference with Percolator. The latter chased the pace in third before moving into second in the homestretch, and–if not for Magna Light’s actions–might have been able to hold second over Uncle Vinny, who rallied from four lengths back at the eighth pole to fall less than a length short of catching the winner. Awesome Slew also put in a respectable rally to finish fourth despite a slow start and a bit of traffic trouble.
Link to Uncle Vinny’s pedigree
Link to Magna Light’s pedigree
Del Mar Race 6: Maiden Special Weight
6 furlongs on dirt
Keith Desormeaux’s Exaggerator was the favorite at just over 2-1, and the son of Curlin lived up to expectations while winning by a nose. In seventh place after a half-mile in :46.77, Exaggerator put in a game rally under jockey Kent Desormeaux to catch Miner’s Light right at the finish. The latter colt was actually ten lengths off the lead after the first quarter-mile, well behind Exaggerator, and made an early move to grab a one-length lead at the eighth pole before just failing to hold on at odds of 23-1. The final time was 1:11.50, a solid clocking over the slow track at Del Mar. On Fire helped set the pace and led after a half-mile, but tired in the final two furlongs to finish third, 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner.