Remember Winstrella? His claim to fame: runner-up to powerhouse Curlin in his maiden score at Gulfstream last year. He’s back after a 10-month layoff and on the turf for the first time in race 8 at Belmont on Wednesday. It looks like Todd Pletcher intended for a turf career for this one, but when he broke his maiden at Aqueduct in a race taken off the turf and then easily defeated allowance company at Belmont, plans changed. It was a dumb idea, as he finished nearly a dozen lengths back of Delightful Kiss in the Iowa Derby as the favorite, and again well-back in the Lemon Drop Kid Stakes in August. His pedigree screams grass: his dam Minstrella was champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland when she won the G1 Phoenix Stakes and G1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, and then the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. By G1 Epsom Derby winner The Minstrel, Minstrella has 4 turf winners already—will Winstrella make 5?
Also in that race—for a $50K tag—is Hotstufanthensome. Hard to believe it was little more than a year ago that he lost the G3 Pan America Handicap to Jambalaya by ½ length! Of course, this gelding is 8-years-old now…. The up-and-comers in this race are 4-year-olds Extra Zip who’s 3 for 3 this year, and Sir Lowry who is 3 for 3 in the money this year, never losing by more than a head.
A couple interesting maiden special weights for 2-year-olds at Churchill:
In race 5, Fast Draw (Gone West-Bright Candles, by El Gran Senor) will probably go off at very short odds, considering his string of excellent works, and his pedigree. Out of the multi-G1 placed Bright Candles, he is a full-brother to G1 winner and sire Grand Slam who was precocious at 2 (won Champagne and Belmont Futurity), as were a number of his other siblings. Ken McPeek-trained Indyama Jones also sports strong works, although none from the gate which bothers me slightly, so I’ll peg Silver City to perform well—I love the last two long, fast works. Bullion Cache finished third his first time out for Todd Pletcher, so he should get a piece with the conditioning.
In race 8, I love Indeedingly (Street Cry-Dance Cat, by Danzig). Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Robbie Albarado, this 2-year-old colt broke from the rail and battled 3-5 favorite Screen Your Friend before losing by a neck in his first outing. Here the only obstacle appears to be his far outside post position (10). Excellent pedigree. His dam is a half-sister to G1 Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade. He also has some interesting female inbreeding, specifically 6 x 5 x 4 to Almahmoud, grand-dam of Northern Dancer through her daughter Natalma, and of Halo through her daughter Cosmah. A promising first-time-starter is Buzzin and Dreamin (Five Star Day-Bumble Bee Mama, by Notebook) who is an outcross—no common ancestors in his first five generations (although he does pick up Raise a Native again six back on his dam-side through Majestic Prince). His grand-dam Whirl’s Girl is a full-sister to G3 Round Table winner Fan the Flame and a half-sister to G2 Bed O’Roses victress Incinerate (dam of G1 Gazelle winner In the Gold). Another well-bred first-timer is Masked Man (Mineshaft-Catcher, by Storm Cat); his grand-dam Train Robbery was multi-G1 placed, and his dam is a full-sister to G1 BC Classic winner Cat Thief, who also placed third in the G1 BC Juvenile. He might be late to blossom like other Mineshafts, but his dam was stakes-placed at 2 (Bassinet). Should be another interesting race...