There is something invigorating about “getting in on the ground floor”. Something special about discovering someone, or something, before it was famous. “I knew them when…” It applies to businesses, celebrities, athletes, musicians, and many areas of the real world. For me, it applies to horse racing as well. Many of my favorite horses of all time (e.g., Ghostzapper, Uncle Mo, Honor Code) are my favorites, in part, because I watched them before they were famous Graded Stakes winners. I followed their progression from the maiden ranks up to the highest levels of the sport, cheering them on along the way.
It’s also interesting to look back at the early careers of great horses and learn about when they, maybe, weren’t going to be the best and look at who they faced. American Pharoah’s first start was actually won by Om (AP finished 5th). Om has gone on to be a multiple Graded Stakes winner. 2nd place in that race, Iron Fist, is also a Graded Stakes winner. 4th in that race was Calculator, and yep, you guessed it – he’s another Graded Stakes winner. 3rd (One Lucky Dane) and 6th (Daddy D T) both ended up Graded Stakes placed. In a MSW field of 9 back in August of 2014, 4 horses would eventually go on to earn Graded Stakes victories, and 2 more would be Graded Stakes placed. Not to mention that one of those horses would go on to win the first Triple Crown in 37 years. But on that day in August 2014, did anyone at the track, or watching on a TV somewhere, realize that they were watching such a tremendous field of horses compete?
It’s also an interesting thing to look at in the Sim. Did you ever stop to think that your multiple G1 winner lost his maiden race to a horse that could never win another race? What about your $5K claimer, who managed to break his maiden against 2 Graded Stakes winners? Back in March 2008, liam debuted his well bred son of Kitten’s Joy, Ormond. Ormond went off as the 6/1 4th choice, but won by 3 lengths, easily breaking his maiden. It was the best race of Ormond’s 16 race career, as he would never again finish better than 7th in a race (including some bottom level claimers). But does liam realize that, finishing 2nd, 3 lengths behind Ormond in that maiden race, was eventual G2 winner (and $313K earner) Votary, owned by twinhollow? Or even better, that the 3rd place finisher in that maiden race, 6-1/2 lengths behind Ormond (!), was thebigshow’s eventual Bluegrass Derby winner and Sim Hall of Famer Hot And Spicy? Yes, that’s right – Sim Hall of Famer Hot And Spicy lost his debut race to a horse that would never finish better than 7th again!
It’s fascinating to look at the early races of Sim horses and wonder “what if?” And as I spent some time wondering about my 2yos, I started thinking “hmm…I wonder if any of these other horses that my 2yos are running against will turn out to be good”. If you’ve ever had that thought, or even if you haven’t, this new BTB series is for you.
Welcome to the Future Stars Series. In this series, I will be dipping back into the race previews that the BTB is most known for, but with a slight twist. Rather than focusing on the current best horses in the Sim, who are all running in major G1 races, I will instead be focusing on the horses that may be the best horses in the future, to try and get you in on the ground floor of the next big thing in the Sim.
What does that mean, you ask? Well, since we already known that stakes horses are good, it means that we’re going to look at a level below stakes caliber horses. In real life, this would likely be focusing on maiden races with the hot names in the barns of Baffert, Pletcher, Brown, and the like. But the real world is a little different. In the real world, the trainers can tell you that a horse is training particularly well, or is “the best horse I’ve ever trained”. Clockers, exercise riders and track denizens can see who is running particularly well in the mornings. We can see where all the $2 million Keeneland auction buys are planning on running next. So there is plenty of data to scope out when looking to find the next big thing before they ever even hit the race track.
In the sim, we have very little data before a first race. Sure, you can see a pedigree, or who the dam was (if there was one), but that is a pittance of data. So instead, this series will move up slightly, to the allowance level. Specifically, the 3yo allowance level (As the year goes on, this may expand to cover 2yo allowance races as well).
Using a points system that I have devised, based on prior wins, ITM finishes, speed figures, and length of victory, each week this series will preview a 3yo allowance race that has a decent chance of being a “key race” that produces some of the Sim’s future stars. The series will preview the race just like your normal previews (possibly with some additional emphasis on pedigree, as there will be less of a racing history), but instead of celebrating each horse’s history, we’ll be celebrating their potential future. At the end, I will also throw in some additional races that could be the home of future greats.
My hope is that this series will hit on an eventual Sim Eclipse Award winner, or at least a Graded Stakes winner, so that you, the reader, can say “I knew that horse when…!” It’s just as, if not more, likely, that we’ll end up celebrating the limitless potential of a bunch of horses that will eventually become bottom level claimers. But that’s the great thing about getting in early – you never know if you’re gonna have the next Ormond or the next Hot And Spicy. But isn’t it fun to watch them to find out?
As a preview for what’s to come, here were the 10 highest scoring races for the 1st week of 2019:
1) New York – Alw NW2L @ 9f – Won by Union Sports (razer1), 96.336 SP
2) Texas – Alw NW2L @ 6f (Fillies) – Won by Saint Ego (legends7), 87.645 SP
3) Louisiana – Alw NW2L @ 9f – Won by Urban Special (superimpose), 95.012 SP
4) California – Alw NW2L @ 8f – Won by Groom Delay (azul25), 92.506 SP
5) Victoria – Alw NW2L @ 8.5f-T – Won by Legend of Zeus (deyoto8), 98.463 SP
6) New York – Alw NW2L @ 8.5f – Won by A.P. Zapper (silversky1), 91.389 SP
7) Arizona – Alw NW2L @ 8f (Fillies) – Won by Purple Raider (stagedoorjohnny), 88.278 SP
8) Kentucky – Alw @ 7.5f – Won by Record of the Year (stagedoorjohnny), 99.460 SP
9) California – Alw NW2L @ 9f-T – Won by Lever Zerrett (00cencallmoney), 94.489 SP
10) Dubai – Alw NW2L @ 9f-T – Won by Always an Optimist (chorwon), 102.800 SP
There are some very promising 3yos ran in those races (including 2 winners from the stagedoorjohnny stable). In fact, 4 of the 5 fastest 3yo Allowance wins of the weekend came from this group of 10 races (including the fastest, Always an Optimist). Let’s see what happens with these horses as the year progresses.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the Future Stars Series as we try to spot the “Next Big Thing” in the Sim…before they are on anyone else’s radar.