Juveniles impress at Del Mar

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

September 7th, 2016

A pair of Grade 1 races were held for two-year-old runners over closing weekend at Del Mar and I came away very impressed with the winners, who look to have bright futures.

Fillies went seven panels on Saturday in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and UNION STRIKE rolled home a sharp and convincing heroine. Trained by newcomer Shelbe Ruis, the second-time starter rated off a contested pace and proved tons the best in the lane under a confident Martin Garcia.

The expensive Union Rags filly was a nice second at first asking and showed marked improvement against a very good field. While the dark bay did have a nice pace set-up and was running on what seemed like the better part of the main oval, Union Strike still made a huge leap in a short time and is easily the leading juvenile filly on the West Coast, if not the country, in my view.

Out of a mare by Smart Strike, she’s cut out to handle two turns with more seasoning and I’m excited to see Union Strike stretch out in the October 1 Chandelier S. (G1), which serves as a final prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita. As Garcia said following the triumph, “And I think the farther they go, the better she's going to be.”

KLIMT drew the outside post in a compact, yet talented field in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and rushed home a superb winner to give Bob Baffert a staggering 13th trophy in the showcase race for juveniles. The son of Quality Road was also an expensive two-year-old in-training purchase ($435k) and has now ripped off wins in three straight, each one more impressive than the other.

Facing a field with less depth than the Debutante but with a measure of quality, too, the bay colt made a nice move to take a short edge at the top of the lane and never looked back in drawing off in a solid final time. An April foal, Klimt gave every impression that he will run longer going forward. Baffert said afterward, “We’ve always thought that going two turns is where he’s really going to excel.”

Both of these exciting youngsters interestingly have ties to Dixie Union -- as he is the grandsire to Union Strike and the broodmare sire to Klimt. I expect both to fare well in early November at Santa Anita.

Union Strike and Klimt photos courtesy of Benoit