During the summer meet at Del Mar, plenty of two-year-old colts stamped themselves as future Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown contenders by scoring impressive victories. Some–such as Nyquist–are already well-known, but there are many others that are still flying under the radar. Here are three colts to keep an eye on from the Del Mar meet!
1. Justin Squared
It looks like Bob Baffert and the Zayats have another promising runner in their barn! Justin Squared, who hails from a family of Baffert-trained runners (his sire is Zensational and his broodmare sire is Vindication), Justin Squared could not have been much more impressive in his debut on September 5th, sprinting to the lead and carving out fractions of :21.90 and :44.87 before cruising home under a hand ride to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Wow! His final time of 1:03.37 for 5 1/2 furlongs translated to a Beyer speed figure of 86, and while his pedigree suggests that he might be more of a sprinter than a two-turn runner, Justin Squared looks to be among the best 2yos in California and is definitely one to follow during the coming months. Since his maiden win, he’s turned in three workouts at Santa Anita, most recently going five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5, but it’s hard to say where he might run next. He could potentially train up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on October 31st at Keeneland, or his connections could opt for an easier race in the October 18th Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita.
2. Smokey Image
After beginning his career with three straight victories, including a pair of stakes races at Pleasanton and Santa Rosa, the Golden Gate Fields-based Smokey Image shipped to Del Mar and romped to victory in the six-furlong I’m Smokin Stakes. Sent off as the odds-on favorite at 3-5, Smokey Image broke sharply and dueled for the lead through fractions of :22.39 and :45.65, then ran the fifth furlong in :11.80 to finally leave the talented colt Found Money behind en route to 4 1/4-length victory in the time of 1:09.60 seconds. Trained by Greg James, the California-bred son of Southern Image has a pedigree that suggests additional distance is within his capabilities, and it will be interesting to see where he runs next.
3. Who’s Out
After finishing fourth in his debut at Del Mar on August 2nd, Who’s Out stepped up in a big way on August 29th to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight in dominating fashion. With Mike Smith in the saddle, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt showed solid speed while dueling for the lead through fractions of :22.26 and :45.78, then put away his pursuers in the homestretch and drew off under a hand ride to win by an impressive 7 1/2 lengths in 1:17.03 seconds. By Tale of Ekati out of a Carson City mare, he’s got enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest that two turns won’t be an issue, and he looks like a major contender for the late-season stakes races in California.
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