Saturday Two-Year-Olds At Saratoga

TwinSpires Staff

July 18th, 2014

Like Friday’s opening day card, there is a trio of two-year-old races on Saturday—a graded stakes plus two maiden special weight races, and it is the latter pair that has our focus today.

Race 1: 8 ½ furlongs on turf

#1 Henry Jones: This is a son of low-profile sire Temple City, who was a Turf and Synthetic specialist in Southern California. Henry Jones is a half sibling to Archie Rice, who won her career debut at Newmarket against 17 rivals. The breeding is the only thing a little intriguing about this horse. Since 2003, her trainer D. Wayne Lukas is just 106-2-0-7 with first-time starters at Saratoga. This horse was reportedly outworked by 2-year-old filly stablemate Lady Zuzu in his most recent drill.

#2 Dubai Sky: This colt is a full brother to the sensationally talented Twirling Candy

There's a lot to like from a pedigree standpoint, and this guy has been training decently and attracts Rosario. However, Since 2008, Bill Mott is winless with two-year-old first time starters at Saratoga. Mott is also just 1 for his last 65 in Juvenile Turf races at Saratoga.

#3 Swing Dixie: This Pennsylvania bred was just a $2,500 yearling purchase and is based at Suffolk Downs. He showed absolutely nothing in his career debut.

#4 The Truth Or Else: Debuted in a Maiden Turf sprint at Belmont and raced evenly throughout. The winner of that race came back and finished second in a Group 3 at Royal Ascot. The experience edge should help, and McPeek is very good with stretching out second-time starters.

#6 Luck of the Kitten: Has a very nice and steady worktab for this race. This son of Kitten's Joy is a full brother to multiple stakes winner Empire Builder. Trainer Wesley Ward is a lousy 8-0-0-1 with debuting Turf Routers at Saratoga, but you certainly get the feeling he's been saving this one for Saratoga.

#7 Kamarius: It's rare to see a Pletcher trained two-year-old get dismissed at 24/1 odds in their debut, but that was this case with this guy when he was ridiculously entered in a five furlong dirt dash at Monmouth. The dam of Kamarius broke her maiden in France, at the distance of ten furlongs. The 2nd dam of Kamarius is Multiple Grade 1 winning router Gorgeous.  This guy is a half sibling to All Included -- a horse who moved up leaps and bounds for these same connections. (Post the PP's for All Included)

The buzzkill with Kamarius, is that throughout Todd Pletcher's training career, he's just 64-11-3-11 (17% wins and $0.86 ROI) with second-time starting Turf routers at Saratoga.

#8 Mr. Discreet: Sired by good grass influence Scat Daddy, his dam is a half to Discreet Cat. Mr. Discreet has trained locally for Pletcher and three of his last four works have come over the lawn. Pletcher does not have great numbers with his Turf debuters at Saratoga, they're just 110-17-12-11 (15% wins and $1.21 ROI)

#9 Lockport: Another son of the previously mentioned low profile sire, Temple City. Even though he has an excellent stamina influence on top, the dam of Lockport was a 4.5 furlong, stop and pop type horse, who competed at Charles Town. Trainer Eddie Kenneally is an impressive 5-for-12 with two-year-old maidens going dirt to turf, but there's not a whole lot else to like other than that good training angle.


1st: Luck of the Kitten

2nd: Kamarius

3rd: The Truth or Else

4th: Mr. Discreet

Race 4: 5 ½ furlongs on the dirt

#1 Special Invitation: Sometimes you uncover a piece of information that initially exhilarates you, only to discover that said piece of info isn't so exciting when put to scrutiny. That was exactly the case with Special Invitation (15/1 morning line) in this race.

On May 9th, Special Invitation took part in a training race at Camarero Race Track in Puerto Rico against three other horses. Believe it or not, Equibase has chart callers at Camarero. Special Invitation won that training race by 15 lengths. He got five furlongs in 1:00 minute flat over a muddy track. The training race performance certainly had to appear impressive to someone, because it earned him a trip back to America, and into the Rudy Rodriguez barn. This felt like an exciting discovery. Hey, Kentucky Derby winner Bold Forbes came from Puerto Rico, and Len Ragozin referred to him in his book as one of the fastest two-year-old sprinters ever.

Indeed, a good horse can surely come from anywhere, but after researching the three horses Special Invitation beat in that training race (Olympiakos, Dogged, and Iris B.) All excitement was lost. He basically dusted three goats, even by Puerto Rican standards. Bye bye, to my visions of cleverly popping with a 20/1 winner. This horse might still have been a little interesting if they entered him for a high-priced Maiden Claiming tag, but putting him in the first open Maiden Special spot they could find on dirt, at Saratoga, is asking way too much.

#2 Blame Jim: This Pletcher trained and Repole owned homebred is a gelding. Blame Jim has reportedly been training impressively. In fact, he's easily bested a different workmate in each of his last three works. Todd Pletcher has a dazzling record with two-year-old first-time starters on dirt at Saratoga. Over the last five years, he's 37-for-104 (36% wins and $2.65 ROI)  There's a lot to like about this guy.

#3 Omarvelous: This horse is bred to be very quick and precocious on the bottom of his pedigree. However, this is such a tough spot to debut in and I will again remind you that, since 2003, D. Wayne Lukas is just 106-2-0-7 with first-time starters at Saratoga.

#4 Now We Are Free: The dam of this horse was a multiple stakes winner, but she got much better with experience and improved as the distances increased. Michelle Nevin is just 1-for-16 with debuters in her brief but impressive training career. We'll watch one and look for this horse later on.

#5 Smithereen: The dam of this horse won her career debut by more than ten lengths. The 2nd dam won her career debut in a stakes race in her native Argentina. Smithereen reportedly impressed with a quick gate work, most recently. By the time this race comes, we might have a better gauge on how the Wesley Ward debuters are running.

#6 Bold Conquest: His dam won her debut impressively at Keeneland, paying $11.40 in the process. Throughout his training career, Steve Asmussen is 96-19-15-12 (20% wins and $1.51 ROI) with two-year-old first time starters at Saratoga. This horse has a nice steady worktab and should be well prepared.

#7 Money Changer: Initially a $55,000 yearling purchase, this horse re-sold for $100,000 after working a quarter mile in 20.20 seconds at the Keeneland April 2-year-old sale. That's not a typo either. Here is video of Money Changer's sales work.

Now, don't get too excited about that scorching fast time. Virtually every horse who worked under-tack at that sale produced a ridiculously fast time. To put it properly, 23 different horses worked a quarter mile at that sale, and Money Changer finished in five-way tie for the second fastest work. A Medaglia d'Oro  colt actually worked a 20 second flat quarter to take the bullet. As previously mentioned, Pletcher has brilliant stats with these type of horses.


1st: Blame Jim

2nd: Bold Conquest

3rd: Smithereen

4th: Money Changer