Horses to Watch: May 2014

-- (International) Belle Couture (Redoute's Choice - Helsinge, by Desert Sun)
Half-sister to Black Caviar finished second in debut before oh so easily breaking her maiden at Caulfield last time out.

-- Can'thelpbelieving (Duke of Marmalade - Embark, by Soviet Star) 

 Lightly raced three-year-old has a win to go along with two runner-up finishes in four starts since arriving in America. His lone off the board finish came in the G3 Palm Beach S., in which the likes of Mr. Speaker and Storming Inti got the minor awards. 

-- Cat Burglar (Unbridled's Song - Be My Prospect, by Forest Wildcat)

Winner of two straight allowance optional claimers at Santa Anita, the most recent of which was over 2013 Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie.

-- Catron (Distorted Humor - Cindy's Mom, by A.P. Indy)

After being forwardly placed in most of his starts, many of which were sprints, this Todd Pletcher trainee stretched out to 8.5 furlongs and a change of tactics, which saw him drop to the back early and make one sweeping run, proved to be successful in a recent allowance optional claimer at Belmont. After being caught in some unfavorable pace scenarios in his last few starts, it'll be interesting to see if this distance and running style stick. 

-- Chelios (Distorted Humor - Grat, by A.P. Indy)

Was second to Cherubim before impressively breaking his maiden over the likes of Rprettyboyfloyd and Dublin Up -- closed nicely to finish second in an allowance optional claimer last time out after taking a few months off due to injury. 

-- Code West (Lemon Drop Kid - Charitabledonation, by Saint Ballado)

Winner of last year's G3 Matt Winn finished second, beaten only one half length, behind Charming Kitten when returning from a nearly nine month layoff, not to mention that came on the synthetic. Watch out for him when he switches back to dirt. 

-- Divine Oath (Broken Vow - Rejoicing, by Forestry)

Broke maiden over Ring Weekend before defeating Big Bazinga in an allowance optional claimer, finished second to Mr. Speaker last time out in the G3 Coolmore Lexington despite a slow start after he brushed the gate.

-- Dynamic Impact (Tiznow - Featherbed, by Smart Strike)

He didn't break his maiden until his fifth attempt, but he's really came into his own since then, as he backed that win up with a very nice win over the always tough Midnight Hawk in the G3 Illinois Derby. The Preakness may very well be his next start. 

-- Fashion Fund (Oasis Dream - So Silk, by Rainbow Quest)
Twice having finished relatively close behind Wedding Ring at Newmarket, Fashion Fund made her US debut for Shug McGaughey a winning one when she furiously closed down the stretch of a one mile MSW on turf at Keeneland. 

-- Financial Mogul (Street Boss - Trav n' Kris, by Snow Chief)
Ran in tough company all year long before finishing sixth after a horror trip in the G3 Bay Shore when taking on Coup de Grace and Kobe's Back -- looks to fit at this class and distance, however. 

-- Flamboyant (Peer Gynt - Relicia Bere, by Until Sundown)
May have only won by a neck, but he was much the best in his American debut, which came in the La Puente S. at Santa Anita -- a bit concerning that he hasn't worked since the victory, however. 

-- Gala Award (Bernardini - Wilshewed, by Carson City)
Twice a winner on the turf, including the G3 Palm Beach, before switching to the all weather for the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland -- came on late in that one, but a switch back to the turf is likely in his future.

-- Green Mask (Mizzen Mast - Bonsai Beauty, by Forestry)
This isn't the first time I've had Green Mask on a "Horse to Watch" list (see here: Green Mask), but he's worth repeating. After a huge performance in his debut, he tailed off in his next start, but in his 2014 debut, which was also his debut for trainer Christophe Clement, he dominated a NW2 allowance at Keeneland over the likes of Twang, who has gone on to run well since. 

-- (International) The Great War (War Front - Guide, by Pulpit)
Undefeated in two starts, this Aidan O'Brien trained son of War Front has won both of his races easily, the most recent of which you can watch by clicking the link HERE

-- Hootenanny (Quality Road - More Hennessy, by Hennessy)
Wesley Ward two-year-old was very impressive in debut when winning by four and one quarter lengths at Keeneland. What's even more impressive, however, was that he did so with his final two furlongs having been run faster than his first two according to this piece by Pat Cummings

-- La Madrina (Tapit - Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway)
It takes a lot for me to throw a Tapit on the "Horses to Watch list," but this three-year-old filly is the first of a few on here. This Shug McGaughey trainee has only run once, but she ran what was perhaps the most impressive performance on the Florida Derby undercard en route to a five and one quarter length victory, which is shown below. 

-- Myositis Dan (Istan - Cranberry Sauce, by Harlan's Holiday)
He's been as consistent as they come this year, having never finished outside the top three in four starts, but while many perceived him to be a synthetic specialist, he nearly stole the show in the G3 Derby Trial on dirt at Churchill Downs, where he absolutely stormed home to miss by less than a head

-- Safety Belt (Easing Along - Santiaga, by Deputy Commander)
After some success in Argentina, Safety Belt shipped up to the US and won an allowance optional claimer on the the downhill turf course at Santa Anita over the likes of the always game Rangi.

-- Sweet Acclaim (Acclamation - Wildsplash, by Deputy Minister)
Lightly raced three-year-old Chad Brown filly won her debut before finishing third behind Miss France, who has since gone on to win the 1000 Guineas. She made her three-year-old at US debut at Keeneland in the G3 Appalachian S. where she finished second behind the undefeated Daring Dancer. I'd be very interested in seeing her run in a turf sprint. 

-- Tonalist (Tapit - Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony)
He missed the Wood Memorial after falling ill, but this three-year-old son of Tapit is, in my opinion, one of the best of this year's three-year-old crop. He's back on the worktab and planning to run in the Peter Pan S. at Belmont. Don't forget we most recently saw him in what may very well been the deepest "Derby prep." I'm of course referring to the allowance optional claimer on the Fountain of Youth undercard, which was won by Constitution and in which Wicked Strong finished fourth -- both of whom went on to win major Derby preps in their next start. 

-- Venetian Mask (Pulpit - Molto Vita, by Carson City)
The newest winner on this list, Venetian Mask won his debut in impressive fashion over seven furlongs on the dirt today at Parx, which you can watch HERE

-- Wizardly (Elusive Quality - Distinctively, by Awesome Again)
While some have suggested my "longtime maiden crush" was on California staple Rprettyboyfloyd, it was actually on this guy, who had three straight second place finishes before finally breaking his maiden in his seventh attempt. After finishing just behind the likes of Unstoppable Colby and Thundergram, he broke his maiden in a big way -- winning by over seven lengths at Oaklawn Park

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