Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hopeful Stakes Racing Roundup

So far, Labor Day weekend has been very rewarding for the stallion Henny Hughes, whose two-year-old colt She Digs Me cruised to 6¼-length victory Saturday in the 78th running of the Sapling Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park.

The win vaulted Henny Hughes from fifth-place to second on the Thoroughbred Times 2011 Juvenile Sire List and he stands poised to take the lead on Monday with a victory by his two-year-old colt J C’s Pride who will go to the post as the 5-2 morning line favorite of the $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.

In his maiden debut, J C’s Pride was a 3½-length runner-up to the speedy Overdriven whose sire Tale Of The Cat is the current leader on the Thoroughbred Times Juvenile Sire list.

J C’s Pride earned a 104 Brisnet Speed figure for that performance and followed that up 26 days later with a 107 speed figure he earned cruising to a 3¼-length win in a 5-furlong sprint at Saratoga on July 27.

His sire, Henny Hughes, was a precocious two-year-old who won the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) and Tremont Stakes and finished second in the Hopeful Stakes (G1), Champagne Stakes (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Hennessy, the grandsire of J C’s Pride, also won the Hopeful Stakes (G1), Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G2) and the Sapling Stakes (G3).

Henny Hughes has 11 juvenile winners in 27 starters for a 41% strike rate. If J C’s Pride repeats the form of his maiden win he will be competitive.

Currency Swap, the 3-1 morning line second-choice, should also be competitive. He comes into the race with a 108 speed figure he earned while cruising to a 6-length romp in a 6½-furlong sprint race at Saratoga on August 6.

High Cotton, the sire of Currency Swap, finished second in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) as a two-year-old and at stud, he is ranked 10th on the Thoroughbred Times 2011 Freshman Sire list with six juvenile winners in 21 starters for a 29% strike rate.

Currency Swap also gets some good influence from his damsire Pine Bluff who at the age of two won the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Nashua Stakes (G3) and finished third in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Futurity Stakes (G1). At the age of three, Pine Bluff won the Rebel Stakes (G3), Arkansas Derby (G2) and Preakness Stakes (G1). Pine Bluff finished second in the Southwest Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

Currency Swap is a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1989 that line has produced eight Hopeful winners: First Samurai (2005), High Yield (1999), Lucky Roberto (1998), Hennessy (1995), Dehere (1993), Salt Lake (1991), Deposit Ticket (1990) and Summer Squall (1989).

Two long shots I like are I’ll Have Another (6-1) and Power World (6-1).

Trainer Doug O’Neill ships I’ll Have Another in from the west coast where in his last race he was a 1¾-length runner-up to the speedy Creative Cause in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar Racetrack on August 7. Prior to that, I’ll Have Another won his maiden debut at Hollywood Park on July 3.

Flower Alley, the sire of I’ll Have Another, finished third in his only start as a two-year-old but at the age of three, he won Lane's End Stakes (G2), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Travers Stakes (G1) and finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G2), Dwyer Stakes (G2) and Breeders' Cup Classic Stakes (G1).

I’ll Have Another also gets some good influence from his damsire Arch and Pleasant Tap the sire of the second dam Force Five Gal who was stakes-placed.

I’ll Have Another is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1989 that line has produced nine Hopeful winners: Dublin (2009), Vineyard Haven (2008), Circular Quay (2006), Afleet Alex (2004), Silver Wagon (2003), Came Home (2001), City Zip (2000, dead-heated with Yonaguska), Smoke Glacken (1996) and Great Navigator (1992).

Power World, also a sire line descendant of Mr. Prospector, has never finished worse than second in three starts and comes into the Hopeful with two second-place finishes in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) and Sanford Stakes (G2).

In his last race, Power World was a 4-length runner-up to the speedy Overdriven in the 6-furlong Sanford Stakes (G2). Power World will probably do better as the races get longer and I think he’ll like the stretch out to 7-furlongs.

Distorted Humor, the sire of Power World, is well known for getting precocious two-year-old sprinters and middle-distance runners as well as the occasional classic winner. Distorted Humor is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide and Belmont Winner Drosselmeyer.

Storm Cat, the damsire of Power World, is also well known for getting precocious two-year-olds. He is the sire of Hopeful winner High Yield (1999) and the great grandsire of First Samurai, winner of the 2005 Hopeful.

The tail-female line of Power World traces back to the fourth dam Lady Be Good, a Matriarch of the turf, who also is the fourth dam of Epsom Derby winner Motivator and the second dam of Wavering Monarch, the grandsire of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Lady Be Good is also the fourth dam of the outstanding filly Goodbye Halo – winner of the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (G1), Demoiselle Stakes (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Kentucky Oaks (G1), Mother Goose Stakes (G1) and Las Virgenes Stakes (G1).

In addition, Lady Be Good is ranked 11th on Roger Lyons of Pedigree Matters Top 40 Dam Lines of SW’s, 1995 to Present.

Honorable mention goes to Laurie’s Rocket (20-1) who’s making a big step up in class but I liked what I saw when he quickened in the final furlong of his last race to break his maiden on July 23 at Saratoga.

Since then, Laurie’s Rocket has fired two bullet work outs over the Saratoga surface and if he looks good in the post parade I’ll probably use him in some wagers.

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