Thursday, November 28, 2013

20 Two-Year-Olds to Watch

We're nearing year's end and that means one thing: we'll soon have a new three-year-old crop to watch, with the hopes that our favorite will become the next Frankel, Black Caviar, or Citation. Even if that's not likely to happen, we're still most certainly assured another great season of racing that will have more highs and lows than Millennium Force at Cedar Point.

With that being said, below, I've listed who I believe are the top 20 most promising two-year-old horses both in America and Europe. This list isn't exclusive to horses that would specifically be pointed to the Kentucky Derby or the Guineas, per se. It is instead meant to highlight horses that I believe can be successful three-year-olds, no matter their niche. 

1. Honor Code (A.P. Indy-Serena's Cat, by Storm Cat)
Lightly-raced colt from the final crop of A.P. Indy is about as blue-blooded as it gets. To add to his stellar pedigree are his two spectacularly run races. He broke his maiden in his first start, which was over the slop at Saratoga, after having spotted a solid field (two others went on to win next time out) over 20 lengths in what was easily one of the most memorable races of the year and he backed that up with a good second in the G1 Champagne. His connections opted to skip the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in favor of the Remsen.




2. Toormore (Arakan-Danetime Out, by Danetime)
The Richard Hannon-trained Toormore has an unblemished record in the three races he's ran. He ran gamely to defeat Outstrip, who of course went on to when the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, and he followed that up by dominating Group 1 winner Sudirman. He's the one to beat amongst next year's crop of top class Euros.




3. Miss France (Dansili-Miss Tahiti, by Tirol)
After a tough debut in which she finished ninth, Miss France hasn't looked back. This daughter of prolific sire Dansili broke her maiden at Chantilly over Indonesienne, who went on to win a Group 1 on the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe undercard, and she was hardly urged in her easy victory in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp stakes.

4. She's a Tiger (Tale of the Cat-Shandra Smiles, by Cahill Road)
The ever-consistent She's a Tiger hasn't finished worse than second in six races. A victory in the G1 Del Mar Debutante and a second place finish (after being disqualified from first) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies highlight her career to this point. She's a half to multiple G1 winning sprinter Smiling Tiger.




5. Cairo Prince (Pioneerof the Nile-Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)
He may only have two races to his name thus far, but the son of successful juvenile sire Pioneerof the Nile hasn't missed a beat. After easily winning his first time out, he impressively won the G2 Nashua, which was his first start against winners, despite starting from the outside post.

6. Australia (Galileo-Ouija Board, by Cape Cross)
Aidan O'Brien trains this royally bred son of two-time Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Ouija Board, who has only gotten better with time. Despite having to settle for second after breaking slowly in his debut, Australia has since won twice, the most recent of which was a demolition job of the highly regarded Free Eagle in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.



7. Shared Belief (Candy Ride-Common Hope, by Storm Cat)
In two victories in as many starts, Shared Belief's average margin of victory is just over seven lengths. Not even the well regarded Kobe's Back could come close when they met in the G3 Hollywood Prevue earlier this month.



8. No Nay Never (Scat Daddy-Cat's Eye Witness, by Elusive Quality)
This son of successful American sire Scat Daddy has won each of his three starts. After breaking his maiden in his debut at Keeneland, he became trainer Wesley Ward's latest Ascot winner when he took the Norfolk Stakes. It was his win in the Group 1 Prix Morny over both Vorda and Rizeena that cemented his status as one of the top two-year-olds in the world. He's expected to return to Europe next year and will most likely be pointed towards the St James Palace Stakes.




9. Havana (Dunkirk-Missy Turtle, by Kyle's Our Man)
Todd Pletcher's latest young star has defeated some of the best two-year olds in America, including the aforementioned Honor Code in the G1 Champagne. The son of leading American juvenile sire Dunkirk, Havana contested a fast pace set by Debt Ceiling in the Champagne, and yet he was still able to finish ahead of the fast-closing Honor Code. He backed up that effort with a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.



10. Arethusa (A.P. Indy-Miss Coronado, by Coronado's Quest)
A horse we've previously profiled on the blog, Arethusa is by former Horse of the Year A.P. Indy out of a graded stakes winning Coronado's Quest mare. While she didn't have the best debut, Arethusa improved to hit the board behind the well-regarded Georgia and Be Proud in her next two efforts. Her most recent run, which was in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park, however, is what has catapulted her to being one of the top juvenile fillies in the world. After sitting at the back of the pack early, she showed an impressive turn of foot, which allowed her to take the lead at the top of the stretch and never look back.


11. Chriselliam (Iffraaj-Danielli, by Danehill)
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf may have been her introduction to a worldwide audience, but she impressed in Europe before her trek to California, particularly when she defeated Rizeena and Ihtimal in the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies' Mile at Newmarket. She is expected to be pointed towards to the 1000 Guineas, for which she is currently the bookies' second choice.



12. New Year's Day (Street Cry-Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)
Going into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, this son of Street Cry was known as "Baffert's other horse," but following an impressive stretch run that saw him overtake Havana late, he exited the race a superstar. While his debut was nothing to write home about, he quietly defeated the likes of Bond Holder and Candy Boy, who have both impressively broken their maidens since. It's unusual to say about a Breeders' Cup champion, but he may be one of the more underrated American horses of this crop.




13. Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor-Beer Baroness, by Mr. Greeley)
At times, Ria Antonia has been brilliant, but she has struggled to maintain the consistency of the horses who are ranked above her. She emphatically broke her maiden in her second attempt, which was over the All Weather at Woodbine, but she struggled to replicate that effort in her next two races. She made good when it counted, however, when she was named the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after She's a Tiger was placed second following a stewards inquiry.

14. Outstrip (Exceed and Excel-Asi Siempre, by El Prado)
Godolphin's newest star Outstrip is arguably the most battle-tested horse of this group. He nearly defeated Toormore in the Veuve Clicquot before winning a Group 2 at Doncaster. He then failed to threaten War Command in the Group 1 Dewhurst, but perhaps that can be attributed to him not handling the soft ground. He emphatically won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but he's just a notch below his top class peers at this point.




15. War Command (War Front-Wandering Star, by Red Ransom)
A winner of four out of his five races, War Command's only loss was a narrow defeat at the hands of Sudirman in a six furlong contest at Curragh. His most recent victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst at Newmarket was more of a workmanlike effort than that of a superstar, but he got the job done.




16. Recepta (Speightstown-Honor Bestowed, by Honor Grades)
Another horse that has previously been profiled on here, Recepta won her debut before struggling in the G1 Frizette. She quickly bounced back, however, to win the Chelsea Flower Stakes on the turf at Belmont despite a very wide trip.

17. Testa Rossi (Dr Fong-Peggy Lane, by Dancing Spree)
A winner of four straight this season, including the G3 Miss Grillo, there's no doubt that this filly knows how to win. She may have finished second behind Chriselliam in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but her run should not be disregarded, particularly since she checked up entering the stretch, but was still able to gather herself and rally to take runner-up honors.



18. Tap It Rich (Tapit-Gold Canyon, by Mr. Prospector)
The lightly-raced son of Tapit only has two runs to his name. His debut was as impressive as they come, as he dominated the field over a mile on the Santa Anita dirt despite breaking slowly. It was his run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile that made me believe, however. His fifth place finish despite a wide trip that gave him no chance at the victory certainly caught my eye.

19. Wired Bryan (Stormy Atlantic-Red Melody, by Runaway Groom)
When Wired Bryan wins, he wins big. This son of Stormy Atlantic already has four wins to his name, including the G2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga and has won his last two outings in dominant fashion. The flashy grey also owns some of the fastest speed figures of the group.



20. Bobby's Kitten (Kitten's Joy-Celestial Woods, by Forestry)
Few juvenile races this year were more impressive than that of Bobby's Kitten in the G3 Pilgrim, in which he easily demolished the field by over six lengths. He entered the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf as the post time favorite off of that result, but he set lighting quick fractions early in that race, which cost him the lead. His ability to hold onto third place, regardless, showed that he's not your average runner. The son of leading American sire Kitten's Joy was named after the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.



On the Rise:
*Indonesienne (Muhtathir-Mydarshaan, by Daarshaan)
Winner of two out of three races, including Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp (only loss 1 1/4 lengths behind Miss France)

*Noble Moon (Malibu Moon-Mambo Bell, by Kingmambo)
Wore down rivals to win debut at Belmont before finishing third behind Cairo Prince in the G2 Nashua

*Pablo Del Monte (Giant's Causeway-One Hot With, by Bring the Heat)
Won both races, both of which were over the All-Weather at Keeneland, but has yet to run in a stakes race.

*Indian Maharaja (Galileo-Again, by Danehill Dancer)
Easily won both races in which he's ran, but he's another who's yet to be tested in a graded stakes.

*Good Old Boy Lukey (Selkirk-Pivotting, by Pivotal)
Three for three including his most recent win in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July










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