Seeing as though a good 80% of my barn is 2 year olds I figured a stand-alone article on them would garner a few views. My first year in the game has been a tumultuous one, filled with some great moments and also filled with some really disappointing ones. I learned a ton about breeding including that the breeding process is by far the most unforgiving yet rewarding part of the game. More importantly I managed to meet a ton of great people that have made the game that much more fun.
I broke up the article into a few sections: Best 2 Year Old, Bluegrass Hopefuls, Best Turf Router, Best Dirt Sprinters, Best Turf Sprinters and my Problem Children. I figured my best Bluegrass Hopefuls were the equivalent to my best Dirt Routers which is why I didn’t create a section for it. Without further ado here’s some of Francua’s best and worst of 2018.
Best 2-Year Old:
TURN EM’ LOOSE (CARAVAGGIO x WRITTEN TYCOON x KINGMAMBO) –
Easily my best baby this season as he won the Grade 2 Royal Dodge earning himself a bid to run in the G1 Breeders Bowl Juvenile Turf. He didn’t run a lick on Breeders Bowl day but it was still great to take part in one of the biggest race days of the year. I shut him down after the Breeders Bowl and plan on bringing him back in February of 2019 for a big 3 year old season. Given how some of his half-brothers/sisters have run I may even give him a shot on dirt.
AFTERNOON APPROACH (DAWN APPROACH (IRE) x MEDICEAN (GB) x REDOUTE’S CHOICE)
Mare: Kody’s FIFTY STAIRWAY
He started his career by running against his breeding on the turf against some monsters in the ESR Aladar Turf King and ran an admirable 5th. Since switching to the dirt though he’s 2-2 ITM with a 2nd place finish and in his most recent; a victory running a mile. In his two dirt tries the speed fig improved from 85 to 88 and he looks as though he may get better with distance. He’s essentially done for his 2 year old season and will likely get started early in his 3 year old season against allowance horses.
BLUEGRASS BLAME (BLAME x BLUEGRASS CAT x VINDICATION)
This guy got started in July and has progressively gotten better as the distance has increased. He broke his maiden with a 91 speed fig going a mile and his first time out against winners was a small regression to an 89 in a 5th place finish on an off track. I’m going to attribute the regression to him just not caring for the off surface. He’s also done for his 2 year old season and will come back mid-January to take on allowance runners again.
CAIRO ROAD (CAIRO PRINCE x QUALITY ROAD x DANEHILL DANCER) –
Mare: Bizall’s REDEEMING DOLLARS
Distance wise he’s the only one of my bunch to prove he can win at longer than a mile with his maiden victory coming in the form of a 90 speed fig stalking effort. He’s getting one more race before year’s end against allowance NW2L’s going 8.5 furlongs which will ultimately determine how much confidence I have in him for his 3 year old season.
MINION OF WAR (WAR FRONT x A.P INDY x ALYDAR) –
His debut going a mile on the dirt saw him score an 85 speed fig in an 2nd which oddly enough looks to be a better performance than his actual maiden victory speed of 81. Despite the disparity in the figures I’m of the belief that he was cruising so easily in the maiden victory that he didn’t push it. He’s set to run one more before year’s end against allowance NW2L’s going 8.5 furlongs in New York.
PSALM OF WAR (WAR CHANT x PLEASANT COLONY x AFFIRMED) –
He’s been a pleasant surprise as the only out of the money finish in his career came in the form of a 7 furlong sprint in his debut. Since switching to routing he’s 3-3 ITM with two victories posting back to back 89 speed figs. He’s done for his 2 year old season and will likely run against Stakes company when he comes back January.
ULTRA SUNRISE (CURLIN x STORM CAT x A.P. INDY)
Mare: BELLE TRUMPET
This son of CURLIN is kind of on the outside looking in at the moment. Based on the breeding and his two performances alone I believe he’s uber talented, but I’m not so sure he’s going to get it together in time for a chance at the Bluegrass. Despite that in the two second places finishes he’s posted 81 and 85 speed figs. He’s got one more shot at breaking the maiden before year’s end where he’s heading to West Virginia to run against another talented group of colts.
ZAPP DADDY (GHOSTZAPPER x SCAT DADDY x TAPIT)
He’s probably the one I am highest on for the moment. His first two runs were sprints that were clearly too short for him to have a shot at winning. Looking back at the running lines, he was screaming at me for two turns I was just deaf to it. Since making the move to routing he’s broken his maiden with a 91 speed fig and beaten 48K NW2L’s with a 95 speed fig. He’s done for his 2 year old season and will return to run against either graded or stakes to start next season.
STRIKE PAY DIRT (BERNARDINI x SMART STRIKE)
Alright so this guy is interesting mainly because I haven’t tried to run him at anything longer than 7 furlongs to date. He’s recently coming off a stakes victory in which he wired the field and posted a 93 speed fig going 6 furlongs. He does have a victory going 7 furlongs against allowance runners and the breeding suggests he should be able to handle routing. My heart is telling me to give him a chance at routing but my mind is telling me to keep him sprinting. We shall see what I do with him upon his return as a 3 year old but I’m already leaning towards giving him an opportunity at routing.
CARSON’S PRAYER (SONGANDAPRAYER x CARSON CITY x HENNESSY)
This girl is probably my only hope at an Oaks bid in 2019 and that hope is a very small glimmer. She’s been very competitive against Florida breds which I consider to be good in its own right. Her only attempt outside of local runners is a 5th place finish against open company in a stakes race at a distance she’d never gone before. While the finish wasn’t what I’m used to seeing out of her I can’t really be mad at that performance given all the new conditions she faced. She did manage to run an 86 in that performance and will more than likely make her 3 year old debut trying a mile against open allowance runners.
Best Turf Router:
ESPIRI (IRONICUS x CHARM SPIRIT (IRE)x EXCELLENT ART)
Mare: Oldmoonfarms74’s POLE OF THE DAY
This fellow looks like he’s going to be really special. He’s managed to earn that SW badge in what was a fantastic performance going two turns in the Hey Zeus Turf Juvenile. He earned a 98 speed fig that day which as I understand is extremely fast for a 2 year old. I did rush him back to run in the G3 Philanthropist to close out his 2 year old season. Be that as it may he still ended up running well as he’d close and finish 4th by about 3 lengths. It probably goes without saying but he’ll be running with graded or stakes company when he comes back as a 3 year old.
Best 2 Year Old Dirt Sprinters
STRIKE PAY DIRT – See Derby Hopefuls
ROBIX (HARD SPUN x ELUSIVE QUALITY x FOREST WILDCAT)
Mare: Scratch Bred
She’s a scratch bred filly who’s got a hard-nosed front running style. She broke her maiden at first asking and followed that up two races later with an allowance NW2L victory. Against my better judgement she did try stakes company at 6.5 furlongs which only reassured my feeling that she didn’t want to run that far. Unless there is a dramatic improvement in stamina when she turns 3 I doubt she’ll be going much further than 6 furlongs in the future.
NO SWEARING (MR SPEAKER x ROSES IN MAY x MR. GREELEY)
Mare: Sjmeola’s GREELEY GOOD
Only two races under his belt, but he broke the maiden at first asking and finished a close second on a stretch out to 6 furlongs. His dam GREELEY GOOD was a 500K stakes winner back in her hay day. He popped out an 82 speed fig in just his second race so I’m excited to see what he can do in the very near future.
Best 2 Year Old Turf Sprinters
RHYTHYM SHOOTER (I AM INVINCIBLE (AUS) x DUBAI MILLENIUM x SWORD DANCE)
Mare: Scratch Bred
Between both of my I AM INVINCIBLE babies they’ve produced 5 wins in 8 races with this guy owning three of them. He’s already earned his SW badge as he took down the Alba Sea King Turf Juvenile back in October and has earned just shy of $100K through his young career. His most recent race was a disappointing effort but I’m not too worried as I expect he’ll bounce back quickly.
CHISELED INMATE (WAR CHANT x NUREYEV x ARCANGUES)
Mare: LOCKED UP
This filly has only one out of the money finish in which she tried two turns and failed miserably. She notched an allowance victory in her most recent race posting an 83 speed fig at 7 furlongs. Her 2 year old season is over but I like what I saw out of her and expect her to make a bid at stakes runners sometime next season.
I AM MARMALADE (I AM INVINCIBLE (AUS) x ALL TOO HARD (AUS) x COMMANDS (AUS))
Mare: Bizall’s GABBIE
The other of my two I AM INVINCIBLE babies has never missed the money and has most recently just won an allowance NW2L posting an 81 speed fig. She’s doesn’t hold the same credentials as her half-brother above but she’s trending in the right direction and will likely get her shot at stakes foes in 2019.
GUN D’ORO (GUN RUNNER x SCAT DADDY x MEDAGLIA D’ORO)
Given that she’s only raced twice (both sprints) I know the jury is still technically out on her but man did she put in some poor efforts. A 44 speed fig on the turf and a 50 on the dirt wasn’t very encouraging to start her career. I’m thinking she’s going to want to route when the time comes and I’m hopeful that she’s like her sire in that she’s a late bloomer. Otherwise this was an investment that took a dump on me.
BRODYTHENAVIGATOR (BRODY THE NAVIGATOR x HENRYTHENAVIGATOR x RAHY)
Mare: WAR LADY D
She’s the first out of WAR LADY D who was an OK horse in her day but her first filly has struggled. She’s had three tries at dirt (2 routes and a sprint) has resulted in a finishes no better than 4th by 7.5 lengths. She also had a 5.5 furlong turf sprint in her debut that resulted in a 5th place finish in which she was never able to get involved. At this point I’m sure she wants to route, I’m just not really sure on what surface yet. She may get a try on the turf routing before the 2 year old season ends but I’m not confident she has the ability to get a win yet.
CAT ON CLOUD NINE (RUN HAPPY x STORM CAT x PROUD BIRDIE)
Mare: DOCTOR PROUD
This one is already running in claimers and has never been close in a route or sprint with his best finish coming in the form of a 6th place 12 length loss. I should probably send him to the farm and geld but I’m basically procrastinating for no reason.
GRIZZLED WAR VET (TO HONOR AND SERVE x FUSAICHI PEGASUS x SCAT DADDY)
Might be the worst one in the barn at this point as she’s never finished better than 6th and her best speed fig to this point is a 68 going a mile. She’s already racing in claimers and has been in for a tag as low as 35K. She won’t get another race this season but when she comes back as a 3 year old she’ll continue to run with low level claimers.
LADY ADONIS (LOOKIN AT LUCKY x TALE OF THE CAT x BE MY GUEST)
She’s been tough to watch through 5 races but looks like she’s slowly improving. My fear with her is that her best race came on a sloppy track going a mile in which she only managed a 5th place finish against 45K claimers. If she’s dependent on off tracks her opportunities are going to be very few and far between.
MIZZ (MIZZEN MAST x DUBAI MILLENIUM x DISTORTED HUMOR)
Just horrible… best speed fig is a 61 against 3K maiden claimers and he still finished 6th by 7 lengths. He’s tried sprinting on both surfaces which has been to no avail. The only thing I’m positive on with this guy is that he’s very distance challenged. Maybe he gets better at 3 years old but my confidence level is pretty low with him right now.
ROCKSANNE (ROCK OF GIBRALTOR x CAERLEON x NORTH PROSPECT)
Remember when I said GRIZZLED WAR VET might be my worst 2 year old? I was wrong…. Since I’m going through my 2 year olds alphabetically I hadn’t gotten to this beautiful disaster. I’ve tried sprinting on the dirt and a couple of claiming routes with him and the best he’s been able to muster is a 53 speed fig. What’s even worse is he’s never been closer than 17 lengths in any race.