Whitney Day maiden heat an important one

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 9th, 2016

The 6TH Race at Saratoga on Saturday was a six-furlong maiden heat for two-year-olds going six panels and as with many of these races early in the Spa meeting, the field appeared to be loaded with prospects. I am tabbing the maiden special weight as a “key” race going forward with a few youngsters seemingly poised to win right back, and one who might be special.

Fact Finding was very professional and classy in a fine debut win and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt has stakes star written all over him. The son of young sire The Factor brought more than $522,000 at a two-year-old training sale in April and looked well worth the investment for the Coolmore connections of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, chasing a clear leader to the top of the lane before putting that rival away with ease. The gray powered home with a great stride to win without duress under John Velazquez.

I have long thought it to be very difficult for a youngster to chase lone speed, overtake the pacesetter and have more in the tank late, but that is exactly what I saw from Fact Finding. His future is extremely bright and the exciting colt established himself as a serious contender for the Hopeful (G1) at the end of the meet. And Fact Finding appears built to handle more ground.

Casses Story hit the gate at the start was buried inside for part of the maiden dash, but the colt showed a lot of ability once clear in the lane to post a solid runner-up finish beneath Julien Leparoux. The $250,000 dark bay colt is still a maiden after a trio of lifetime races to date, but he has run very well as a bridesmaid behind a pair of superb winners in the last two (Bitumen and Fact Finding) and we love Casses Story’s willingness to pass runners as a juvenile. Tab the son of Bernardini for a breakout in the division very soon.

Third-placer Fillet of Sole had little chance after stumbling at the start and trailing to nearly the completion of the far turn, but the Dom Schettino pupil got into gear late. In fact, he looked outstanding flying home past rivals in the final furlong to just miss runner-up honors on the wire. The Union Rags colt improved off his debut, posting a solid 94 BRIS Late Pace figure, and the $350,000 yearling may be one who thrives with more ground to work with. I suggest giving Fillet of Sole a long look on the stretch out, or perhaps a turf try in his next outing.

Another intriguing prospect is Lenstar, who flew out of the gate to a clear lead and established wicked splits in :21 3/5 and :45 to the top of the lane. The $130,000 Shackleford colt ultimately tired to fourth in his career bow, but the Saratoga main track wasn’t exactly playing favorably to front-runners (any horse who goes :21 3/5 at Saratoga can fly) and conditioner Nick Zito rarely puts speed into his juveniles. His horses tend to perform better with experience and Lenstar hinted he may have a lot of quality recording 103 E1 and 103 E2 BRIS Pace numbers in his debut. I assume he will have a huge chance of going wire-to-wire in his subsequent outing.

Fact Finding photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography