JC / Railbird

Buzz Babies

Spa Babies

Saratoga opens Friday, and that means some very well bred, very high-priced, and very interesting juveniles will be running, such as this one (DRF+):

Perhaps the most intriguing colt on the grounds from a pedigree standpoint is Brooklyn Bobby, trained by Brian Lynch. Brooklyn Bobby, named in honor of the late Bobby Frankel, is a son of the undefeated European champion Frankel out of the Grade 1 winner Balance, who is a half-sister to Zenyatta. Brooklyn Bobby has worked well on dirt and had a decent work on turf this week.

Lynch said Brooklyn Bobby could debut on turf Aug. 6.

“He’s the sort of a horse if he was guy, you’d want to hang out with him because he’s a cool, cool horse,” Lynch said. “He’s got a great demeanor, and he’s very unexcitable. He seems to take everything in.”

Frankel is off to a good start as a sire, with seven winners from nine runners through July 11: “The verdict so far is favourable. Mostly.”

The Saratoga juveniles spreadsheet will return this year (the 2015 edition.)

9/6/16 Update: The complete 2016 Saratoga juveniles spreadsheet.

Valentina’s Debut

Rachel’s Valentina, the second foal of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, is set to make her debut in race two at Saratoga on Sunday. It’s a six-furlong maiden special weight, and the 2-year-old Bernardini filly is the 6-5 morning line favorite in a field of eight that includes Awesome Dame and Big World, the second- and third-place finishers of the July 2 maiden special at Belmont Park that was won by buzzy Tonasah. Big World came out of it as one to watch — the Tony Dutrow-trained filly recovered well from a poor break and a wide turn to round out the trifecta. Sixth-place finisher Fabulous Devotion is the only other starter from the July 2 Belmont race yet to return, and she finished third in a maiden special at Parx on Monday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher isn’t overselling his expectations for Rachel’s Valentina: “She’s trained very well and she’s as ready as we can have her,” he told the NYRA press office. “She’s not super quick away from the gate, [so] it’s probably not her ideal distance but it’s a good starting point to build on.”

Rachel Alexandra ran sixth at 27-1 in her 2008 debut, a 4 1/2 furlong maiden special on dirt at Churchill Downs. “No menace,” says the chart. She won her second start three weeks later, going five furlongs. In a nice bit of timing, her filly is debuting on Haskell day, exactly six years after Rachel Alexandra won the 2009 Haskell in peerless fashion:

Trainer Barclay Tagg also has an interesting first-time starter in Sunday’s race — Tale for Ruby. The Tale of Ekati filly had two bullet gate works in a row at Belmont Park on July 6 and 13; her sire’s 15% with debut winners. Tagg was quick to score at Saratoga, and one of his first two winners (from two starters) was the 11-1 firster Realm in last Saturday’s first juvenile race.

There were two more juvenile races at Saratoga on Thursday, both won by Pletcher. Race three went to Sudden Surprise, the first starter for New York sire Giant Surprise, who raced once, winning a 2011 juvenile maiden special at Saratoga (he came out of his debut injured). In race five the runner-up was an MTO entry for trainer Bill Mott — True Pleasure drew in when heavy rain forced the 5 1/2 furlong maiden special off turf and finished second in the slop at 12-1 to favored Island Saint, also an MTO entry. The takeaway — with two wins and two seconds from four starters, Mott first-time babies are still live.

8/1/15 Addendum: A little more from Pletcher on Valentina via David Grening (DRF+): “She’s shown enough quality and class and precocity to win first time out,” Pletcher said. “At the same time, she’s not super quick away from the gate, and the ones that are, you can get a pretty good handle on them winning first time out at short distances. Some of these other ones you know want more ground. It might take a race or two to get there. We’re hoping for a good start and clean trip and something to move her forward on to bigger and better things down the road.”

Anticipating

There’s one juvenile I’m looking forward to seeing at Saratoga above all the other well-bred babies who will debut between Friday and Labor Day and that’s Rachel’s Valentina, the second foal of Rachel Alexandra. The 2-year-old filly by Bernardini is in Todd Pletcher’s Oklahoma barn, and she’s been working steadily since late May. David Grening reports that the trainer says she’s “about two works away from running” (DRF+):

“She acts like a filly with quality that you would certainly expect to improve with distance,” Pletcher said. “When you get a horse like that, it’s exciting to get one with that type of pedigree. It goes without saying that everyone has high hopes. They still have to do it. We’ve been very pleased with the way she’s performed since coming in.”

Watch for stablemate Anna House in race six on opening day — the first-time starter breezed four furlongs from the gate with Rachel’s Valentina on July 11. Valentina posted a bullet :47.04, Anna House :47.05.

Rachel Alexandra’s first foal, Jess’s Dream, is also at Saratoga. The 3-year-old Curlin colt’s path to a first start hasn’t been smooth:

[Trainer Kiaran] McLaughlin said Jess’s Dream has suffered from “little issues” such as respiratory problems caused by allergies. “Really weird stuff but he’s doing well,” he said.

7/26/15 Update: Rachel’s Valentina worked again from the gate, going four furlongs in :48.55 with stablemate Preppy. “I thought she worked very well. She’s not super quick away from the gate but she makes up for it once she gets going,” Pletcher told the NYRA press office. “We’ll see how she comes out of it and look through the condition book and try and figure something out.”

One Fast Rose

Our Amazing Rose gets a Beyer speed figure of 91 for winning the fifth race on Thursday at Saratoga by 7 3/4 lengths. She went the five furlongs in :57.68, or .59 seconds faster than stablemate Corfu did winning the second. Both making their career debuts for trainer Todd Pletcher, of course. Watch the replay.

Reworking the Schedule

Steven Crist on changing the Breeders’ Cup two-day line-up with the addition of the Juvenile Sprint to this year’s event:

There are several realignments that would work better, such as emphasizing juveniles or sprinters on Friday. My personal preference would be to run the seven newest races on Friday and the original eight on Saturday. Any of these schemes, or others, would work better than “Filly Friday Except for the Juvenile Sprint and Marathon and the Fillies Running Tomorrow Day.”

I’m partial to a juveniles Friday, which not only makes for a good story but better fits the implicit stakes hierarchy Saturday races sit atop.

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