Later today, Baffert will have an opportunity to get the important graded stakes money he needs when he sends Castaway and Stirred Up to the starting gate in the 10th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park.
Castaway is the 2-1 morning line favorite while Stirred Up was installed as an 8-1 long shot. Both are late-maturing young colts and I like them best in this race. Of the two, Stirred Up has the more impressive pedigree.
After five previous attempts, in January Castaway finally broke his maiden in his debut as a 3-year-old and he could be improving at just the right time of year.
In his maiden win, Castaway led from gate-to-wire and won by 2¼-lengths covering the 8½-furlongs in a very nice time of 1:41.83. His time for the mile was 1:35.19 and for that effort he earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure.
A month later at Oaklawn Park, Castaway followed up his maiden win with a 3¾-length victory in the one mile Southwest Stakes (G3) and a repeat of the form he showed in his two previous wins will make him tough to beat in today’s race.
Stirred Up did not race as a 2-year-old but since his second-place finish in his maiden debut in January, he’s finished third in one mile maiden race at Santa Anita Park on February 11 and finally broke his maiden at the same racetrack running 8½-furlongs in 1:43 flat on March 3.
In his maiden win, Stirred Up trailed near the rear of the “herd” for most of the race but I like how he took the lead in the stretch to gain the victory. Here’s the chart call:
STIRRED UP between horses early, settled inside then a bit off the rail, continued outside a rival leaving the backstretch, moved up outside leaving the second turn and three deep into the stretch, gained the lead in midstretch and gamely prevailed under urging.
His Brisnet Speed Figure’s – 93, 90 and 93 - are in the high range I like to see in a promising young colt and his pedigree indicates that he may have classic potential.
In the first three generations, four of the seven stallions in the pedigree – Lemon Drop Kid, Kingmambo, Seattle Slew and Summer Squall were Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. In addition, the dam of Kingmambo, Miesque, was also a classic winner of the Dubai Poule D'essai Des Poulains (Group 1).
Quiet American, the damsire of Stirred Up, is a descendent of the Fappiano branch of Mr. Prospector which has produced numerous classic winners and he also sired the 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner Real Quiet.
The distaff influence in the pedigree is also impressive with several important lines, most notably, the tail-female line of Missy Baba – a Matriarch of the Turf and the fourth dam of Stirred Up’s sire Lemon Drop Kid and dam Summer Delight. Missy Baba is also a tail-female descendant of Summer Squall – the sire of Stirred Up’s second dam Cap Rouge.
I’ll be watching with keen interest to see if Stirred Up makes another move forward on the trail.
Ender Knievel finally broke his maiden, after three previous attempts, running a mile in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park on February 5. Ender Knievel led from gate-to-wire and won impressively by 7¾-lengths. He has room to improve in his second start of the season and another move forward will make him competitive in today’s race.
In six career starts, Isn’t He Clever has only been off the board once and he boasts a 4-1-0 record. His worst performance was a fifth-place finish in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on February 4. Later that month, He followed that effort with a 1¾-length victory in the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park.
Since then, Isn’t He Clever fired a bullet work out at Sunland Park and he could be ready to run a good race.