Yes, it is early in the juvenile season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t already a few two-year-olds who have established themselves as ones to watch. Topping my list of impressive two-year-olds:
1. The Roundhouse (Fusaichi Pegasus-Circle of Life, by Belong to Me).
Trained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Chris DeCarlo, and owned by Rags to Riches’ Michael Tabor, this chestnut colt (breed in KY by Chelston) looked to be well beaten in his first start at Monmouth on June 15. However, just like his half-brother Circular Quay did in his first race last year at Churchill, The Roundhouse rallied from at least 12 lengths back at one point, closing down the stretch, passing five other horses to win by 1-1/2 lengths; his last furlong was run in about 11 seconds. To say the least, this was a remarkable performance, most notably for his late closing speed.
2. Ever So Pretty (Stormy Atlantic-Wilshewed, by Carson City)
A full sister to Stormello, this filly nearly set a track record at Hollywood in her debut on June 2, going 5 furlongs in 58.55 (the record is 58.45). Trained by Bill Currin, ridden by Mike Smith, and owned by Currin and Al Eisman, Ever So Pretty is a homebred (like her brother) and her dam has been bred back to Stormy Atlantic for a third time. Time will tell if she shares the apparent distance limitations of her brother, but this speedy filly is dynamic to watch. On June 22, she handily worked 6 furlongs at Hollywood Park in 1:13.20 (2/19). She is nominated to run next in the $100,000 Landaluce at Hollywood on June 30.
3. One Hot Wish (Bring the Heat-Wish for a Jeanne, by Roar)
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, One Hot Wish broke the world record for 4-1/2 furlongs, winning a $50,000 race against the boys in 48.87 seconds at Keeneland back on April 12. Her margin of victory? Only 12-1/4 lengths! After that race, she was a late entry in the Keeneland 2-Year-Olds sale, but the top bid of $300,000 failed to meet the reserve placed on her, so she remains with her original connections. Trained by Wesley Ward (who also bred her), the precocious filly (co-owned by Ward and Robert C. Tanklage) hasn’t been seen since. She recorded a 3 furlong workout at Santa Anita on May 27…in 39.6 (19/19). However, her most recent work, on June 22, is much better, handily going 4 furlongs in 49.40 (17/33), and apparently the plan is to aim her for the Del Mar meet this summer.
4. X Rated Cat (Storm Cat-Xtra Heat, by Dixieland Heat)
The second offspring of champion sprinter Xtra Heat, two-year-old X Rated Cat hopes to follow in the successful footsteps of his half-brother Southwestern Heat (second in the G3 Hirsch Jacobs and third in the Rumson Stakes this year). He has not yet raced, but is posting notable workouts at Laurel Park. On June 16, he went 4 furlongs handily in 47.80 (2/20) and on June 23 handily went 3 furlongs in 35.40 (2/19). Whoa, wee! Looks like Xtra Heat’s lightning fast sprint speed has been passed on to this one too. Watch for his first race for trainer Tim Salzman this summer, possibly at Belmont or Saratoga.
Any other suggestions for two-year-olds to put on the watch list?
By the way, here are the nominated horses for the two big upcoming two-year-old races at Belmont on July 1:
$100,000 Tremont Stakes
$100,000 Astoria Stakes (fillies)