Sticksstatelydude training at Keeneland in October 2015 – Keeneland Photo
Look out, Nyquist, Exaggerator, and Creator–there’s a promising new three-year-old on the scene, and he looks poised to step up and make some major noise during the second half of the season.
His name is Sticksstatelydude, and as some might recall, he’s a colt that I have thought a lot of since he broke his maiden in eye-catching fashion at Saratoga last year. Following that race, he was entered in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) before scratching, then finished fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland despite a slightly rough trip and a two-month layoff. It was a strong effort given that it was his first start around two turns, and two of the colts that beat him–Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator–came back to win grade I races this year.
Unfortunately, the Breeders’ Futurity marked Sticksstatelydude’s final start of 2016, as he missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) with a minor injury and was on the sidelines for months. He returned to the races on June 19th at Churchill Downs in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming race, and while he was no match for the winner, he did produce a mild late run to finish second.
With that effort under his belt, he stretched out to a mile in an allowance race at Belmont Park. And, to put it simply, Sticksstatelydude took a tremendous step forward and crushed his rivals in a terrific performance.
Despite an awkward stumble at the start, Sticksstatelydude showed plenty of early speed and took command through an opening quarter-mile in :22.78 seconds. Lurking behind him in second place was Bombs Away, a very promising Shug McGaughey-trained colt that had broken his maiden with a big effort at Belmont on June 10th. Off that race, Bombs Away was the heavy favorite at just over even-money, but when Sticksstatelydude threw down a second quarter-mile in :22.65–faster than the first!–it was clear that Bombs Away was about to face a serious challenge.
Showing the speed of a sprinter, Sticksstatelydude threw down a third quarter-mile in :23.75 to run six furlongs in 1:09.18, and while Bombs Away did his best to stay close to the front-running sensation, Sticksstatelydude found another gear in the homestretch and kicked clear in the final furlong to win by 3 1/4 lengths in the fast time of 1:34.04 seconds. That translated to a Beyer speed figure of 103, tied for the highest Beyer speed figure earned by any three-year-old this year.
Sticksstatelydude has shown potential since last year, but this performance has elevated him to a new level. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Sticksstatelydude looks ready to jump into graded stakes company next time out, with races like the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) on August 6th or the $1,250,000 Travers Stakes (gr. I) on August 27th looming as possible targets. The future looks bright for Sticksstatelydude, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he runs next!
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