Friday, July 23, 2010

Del Mar, Saratoga Summer Meet

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of The Horseplayer Magazine.

Now that the Triple Crown is over, the next crop of 2-year-old thoroughbreds are ready to begin racing.

Pedigree, of course, is one of the most important tool handicappers have when wagering on precocious juveniles – it can determine which horses have the potential to be rising stars and stakes winners.

Not surprisingly, descendents of the Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer sire lines perform extremely well as juveniles, and it would do the horseplayer some good to pay attention to these pedigrees as the prestigious 2-year-old races at Del Mar and Saratoga get underway.

Del Mar (July 21 to September 8)

Del Mar hosts two marquee races for juvenile colts: the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1).

The Best Pal Stakes (G2) is eponymously named after the California-bred racehorse, who began racing at two and had over $5.6 million in earnings when he retired at the age of eight. The Best Pal Stakes (G2) produced this year’s Preakness (G1) winner, Lookin At Lucky, who also won 2009’s Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Traditionally held on the closing day of the meet, the Del Mar Futurity (G1) has long been a springboard for top runners. Del Mar Futurity (G1) winners that became classic champions include:

• Lookin At Lucky (Preakness)
• Silver Charm (Kentucky Derby, Preakness)
• Gato del Sol (Kentucky Derby)
• Tomy Lee (Kentucky Derby).

Saratoga (July 23 to September 6)

Saratoga hosts the Sanford Stakes (G2), Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) and Three Chimney’s Hopeful Stakes (G1) – all prestigious races in their own right. Sanford Stakes (G2) winners that went on to become a classic champion include:

• Affirmed (Triple Crown winner)
• Secretariat (Triple Crown winner)
• Afleet Alex (Preakness, Belmont)
• Regret (Kentucky Derby)
• Vagrant (Kentucky Derby)
• Spendthrift (Belmont)

Saratoga Special Stakes winners that became classic champions include:

• Whirlaway (Triple Crown winner)
• Morvich (Kentucky Derby)
• Regret (Kentucky Derby)
• Swale (Kentucky Derby, Belmont)
• Bold Forbes (Kentucky Derby, Belmont)
• Native Dancer (Preakness, Belmont)
• Bimelech (Preakness, Belmont)
• Conquistador Cielo (Belmont)
• Blue Larkspur (Belmont)
• Colin (Belmont)
• Summer Squall (Preakness)

Three Chimney’s Hopeful Stakes winners that became classic champions include:

• Affirmed (Triple Crown winner)
• Secretariat (Triple Crown winner)
• Whirlaway (Triple Crown winner)
• Foolish Pleasure (Kentucky Derby)
• Morvich (Kentucky Derby)
• Regret (Kentucky Derby)
• Ben Ali (Kentucky Derby)
• Afleet Alex ({Preakness, Belmont)
• Man O’War (Preakness, Belmont)
• Native Dancer (Preakness, Belmont)
• Nashua (Preakness, Belmont)
• Bimelech (Preakness, Belmont)
• Needles (Kentucky Derby, Belmont)
• Middle Ground (Kentucky Derby, Belmont)
• Zev (Kentucky Derby, Belmont)
• Jaipur (Belmont)
• Peter Pan (Belmont)
• Summer Squall (Preakness)

Sire Lines for the Last Five Key 2-Year-Old Stakes

Sanford Stakes (G2), $150,000, 6 furlongs, July 25
Year - Horse, Sire, Sire Line
2009 - Backtalk, Smarty Jones, Mr. Prospector
2008 - Desert Party, Street Cry, Mr. Prospector
2007 - Ready’s Image More Than Ready Royal Charger
2006 - Scat Daddy Johannesburg Northern Dancer
Note: in 2005, the Sanford Stakes (G2) was not run.

Best Pal Stakes (G2), purse $150,000, 6 ½ furlongs, August 8
Year - Horse, Sire, Sire Line
2009 - Lookin At Lucky, Smart Strike, Mr. Prospector
2008 - Azul Leon, Lion Heart, Northern Dancer
2007 - Salute The Sarge, Forest Wildcat, Northern Dancer
2006 - Principle Secret, Sea Of Secrets, Northern Dancer
2005 - What A Song, Songandaprayer, Mr. Prospector

Saratoga Special (G2), $150,000, 6 ½ furlongs, August 16
Year - Horse, Sire, Sire Line
2009 - D’Funnybone, D’Wildcat, Northern Dancer
2008 - Run Away and Hide, City Zip, Mr. Prospector
2007 - Kodiak Kowboy, Posse, Northern Dancer
2006 - Chace City, Carson City, Mr. Prospector
2005 - Henny Hughes, Hennessy, Northern Dancer

Three Chimney’s Hopeful (G1), $250,000, 7 furlongs, September 6
Year - Horse, Sire, Sire Line
2009 - Dublin Afleet Alex, Mr. Prospector
2008 - Vineyard Haven Lido Palace, Mr. Prospector
2007 - Majestic Warrior A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler
2006 - Circular Quay Thunder Gulch, Mr. Prospector
2005 - First Samurai Giant’s Causeway, Northern Dancer

Del Mar Futurity (G1), $300,000, 7 furlongs, September 8
Year - Horse, Sire, Sire Line
2009 - Lookin At Lucky, Smart Strike, Mr. Prospector
2008 - Midshipman, Unbridled’s Song, Mr. Prospector
2007 - Georgie Boy, Tribal Rule, Northern Dancer
2006 - Horse Greeley, Mr. Greeley, Mr. Prospector
2005 - Stevie Wonderboy, Stephen Got, Even Bold Ruler


  1. Hi Calvin, nice beginning for the up coming two year old races. Truly the RTTR commentary.


  2. Great stats, looks like Saratoga is far and ahead of the pack! Perhaps it should be renamed the Birthplace of Champions instead of the Graveyard.

  3. Barry, railrunner,

    Thanks for the compliment.


    I think a large part of the difference is that track like Saratoga and Belmont have been around a lot longer than Del Mar and Santa Anita.