Saturday, September 29, 2012

Frontrunner Stakes Racing Roundup

Today at Santa Anita Park, trainer Doug O’Neill will send Know More to the starting gate as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the debut of the $250,000 Frontrunner Stakes (G1) which was formerly known as the Norfolk Stakes.

The Frontrunner is an important prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) later this fall at Santa Anita Park. It also is the first race of the new grading system used by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for the Kentucky Derby (G1) next spring. The winner of the Frontrunner will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive four points, third-place finisher will get two points and the fourth-place finisher will get one point.

In the months to come, I’ll be keeping a chart of the points that each horse has accumulated on the Kentucky Derby Trail and it looks like it will be easy to keep track of the leaders – time will tell.

In August, owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill sent the first-time starter Know More to the starting gate at 8-1 odds in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar racetrack and the gamble paid off with a win for the nice looking son of Lion Heart.

They brought Know More back a month later at the same track and, after trailing mid-pack for most of the race, he rallied in the stretch to finish second to Rolling Fog in the Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Know More was my long shot pick in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and I liked him in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) too. If Know More continues to move forward, he should be competitive in today’s race.

Lion Heart, the sire of Know More was competitive as a two-year-old, winning the Hollywood Prevue (G3) and Hollywood Futurity (G1). The damsire of Know More is the Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and the dam, Seattle Qui, has four winners from five starters and two stakes winner.

Spectacular Bid, the sire of the second dam Qui Bid, won the Young America Stakes, Laurel Futurity, Worlds' Playground Stakes and Champagne Stakes (G1) as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, Spectacular Bid won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes (G1) and finished third in the Belmont Stakes (G1).

In addition, Spectacular Bid also sired the 1993 Norfolk winner Shepherd’s Field.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Norfolk Stakes a record five times and it looks like he’s aiming to be the first winner of the Frontrunner Stakes (G1). Baffert sends three horses to the starting gate today – Power Broker (4-1), Carving (6-1) and Den’s Legacy (12-1). Of those three, I like Power Broker the best.

Power Broker has yet to break his maiden and he comes into the race with a narrow loss in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes at Del Mar on September 5. The time of 1:35 for the race is what I like to see in a young competitor and if he repeats that performance he should be competitive in today’s race.

Pulpit, the sire of Power Broker, also sired Essence of Dubai who won the 2001 edition of the Norfolk Stakes and later went on as a 3-year-old to win the UAE 2000 Guineas Stakes (G3), UAE Derby (G2) and Super Derby (G2).

Wild Again, the damsire of Power Broker, won the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Dry Summer (6-1) comes in to the race with a narrow win by a neck over Power Broker in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes. Both horses earned a 90 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort which is the highest speed figure of all the young horses entered in today’s race.

As a 2-year-old, Any Given Saturday, the sire of Dry Summer, was a decent middle-distance horse who won an 8½-furlong allowance race at Keeneland and finished second at the same distance in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).

Dry Summer is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line which has produced the most winners of the Norfolk since 1990: Supremo (1994), Souvenir Copy (1997), Roman Ruler (2004), Street Hero (2008), Lookin at Lucky (2009) and Jaycito (2010).

If Dry Summer continues to move forward, he should be competitive in today’s race.

A long shot I like is Dirty Swagg who comes into the race at 12-1 morning line odds. In his first three starts, Dirty Swagg struggled as a competitor finishing off the board in all three races. But in his last outing, Dirty Swagg finally broke his maiden to win by a half-length going a mile at Del Mar racetrack on September 1.

Dirty Swagg will have to improve his game and continue to move forward if he is going to win the Frontrunner and he has the breeding to do that.

Street Hero, the sire of Dirty Swagg, won the 2008 running of the Norfolk Stakes (G1) and he’s also a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line.

Dirty Swagg’s damsire, Tabasco Cat, and Conquistador Cielo, the sire of the second dam, were both Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.

If Dirty Swagg looks good in the paddock, he could be worthy of a wager.


I got my schedule messed up and thought that the Royal Lodge Stakes was next weekend. Here are the Kentucky Derby leaders:

Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard

Individual Leaders, total points

Power Broker, 10
Steeler, 10
Know More, 4
Artigiano, 4
Capo Bastone, 2
Al Waab, 2

Carving, 1
Birdman, 1

Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2), Newmarket, September 29, 2012
1. Steeler
2. Artigiano
3. Al Waab
4. Birdman

Frontrunner Stakes (G1), Santa Anita Park, September 29, 2012
1. Power Broker
2. Know More
3. Capo Bastone
4. Carving

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