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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pick for Churchill, Race 4

I love baby races, although it seems awful early for them. Barring a sloppy track, here's how I see race 4 at Churchill today:

Churchill Race 4 (4.5f MSW, 2yo)
The only filly in a field of eight, Sparkle of Light catches my eye, particularly with a strong set of gate workouts. Wesley Ward is a master of 2-year-olds, winning 30% with debut maidens, 58% ITM. Her dam Blushing Hope (Housebuster) has had 3 winners from 3 starters, and her sire Alke hits 21% with his first-time starters. What’s not to like? Additionally, Blushing Hope is a half-sister to recent G1 Blue Grass place-getter Massone.

For the exacta, how about Flatter Than Me? More sharp workouts from this son of Flatter out of the Boston Harbor mare Hannah’s Doll (a half-sister to the millionaire warrior Scott’s Scoundrel). He’s a half-brother to the Indian Charlie filly Auspicious who won her first 2-year-old effort, and recently finished third in the Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn.


malcer said...

Wesley Ward specializes in getting his juveniles into peak form prematurely, then cleans up those ridiculously over-funded races with horses that will never accomplish anything similar once the real racehorses enter the game.

Baby races (and the overblown purses for 2yo races in general) are a major incentive for breeders to produce ever-more premature and fundamentally unsound horses that will be out of the game at age 3, but will have probably been gainful enough anyway to pass their inferior genes on to further generations of thoroughbreds who will be unable to run more than five races in their lifetime, or will break down on the track.

In Japan, where equine superstars run til the age of seven, or even ten, 2yo races offer between 50-60% of the purse of races for grown-ups and there are few stakes races for them, none before August.

Baby racing is destructive for the breed and the sport, and frankly shouldn't be supported by anyone who likes either.

Superfecta said...

I'd disagree with malcer - most veterinary research published over the past decade continues to demonstrate that horses who race at two are more durable than those who do not - if they don't run (or at the very least train very hard) then, they simply do not develop the same bone structure.

I certainly appreciate that breeding horses that peak at 2 is pointless, but that's a separate issue from racing and training regimens - more racing=studier horses in the long run.

malcer said...

I didn't say it was bad from a veterinary perspective. I'm aware of those studies and definitely lack the knowledge to take a stand on this issue.

I don't think they are unsound *because* they start in those races, but breeders and owners have no incentive to focus on soundness when they can get as much income for lesser expenses by breeding for premature sprinters that won't last 10 lifetime starts, but might well prove lucrative by winning much for beating little. Did you see that Ward-win at Keeneland - 30K for having the only horse in the field that was actually trying (dashed for a 15-or-so-lenght lead, rest didn't start running until the stretch).

I think there can't be any doubt that the fields of most 2yo stakes and baby races are usually ridiculous for that level when seen in retrospect.

Just look at almost any of last year's juvenile stakes and 40K-plus baby races (say, pre-June) and look where those horses are now.

Lack of equine superstars is one of the major problems of this sport; lack soundness is the second-most important reason for that, lack of incentive for horses to run at older ages is the main one. High-pursed baby races provide incentive to increase those problems.