JC / Railbird


Catching Up

Here we are, less than a month away from Del Mar and Saratoga, and interesting juveniles are starting to appear on the scene. In May, I made mention of Hornblower, the first starter for freshman sire First Samurai. He finished third in his debut at Hastings; “maybe he’ll improve next out,” I wrote. He did, winning his second start, a six-furlong maiden special, last Saturday, giving First Samurai his first winner. The sire scored his second winner on Sunday when Le Mi Geaux, making her second career start for trainer Rick Dutrow, won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special at Churchill Downs by 7 1/4 lengths. Third in her debut, Le Mi Geaux is the second starter from a May 14 Churchill maiden special won by the Ken McPeek trainee Salty Strike (likely favorite in this Saturday’s Debutante) to come back and win her next race. Blue Orleans, second that day, returned to win at the track on June 12, going wire-to-wire in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special. The filly, trained by Todd Pletcher, is by Bluegrass Cat, who has six winners already out of his first crop to race, and is a half-sibling to versatile graded stakes winner Pico Central.

Out at Belmont Park last weekend, photographer Easy Goer caught an unnamed 2-year-old working in company with stakes winner Munnings. The A.P. Indy colt with a distinctive blaze, bought by Coolmore for $1 million at the Keeneland September 2009 sale, is out of the brilliant sprinter Madcap Escapade and a half-sibling to G1 Debutante Stakes and Sorrento Stakes winner Mi Sueno. Once he has a name, he’ll be one for the watch list.

First-Year Sire Giacomo 2-for-2

I always think of 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo as a late bloomer, remembering his string of second-, third-, fourth-place finishes in the run-up to May, overlooking that he won his second start as a 2-year-old (by 10 lengths, going 1 1/16 mile at Hollywood in October 2004). The first-year sire’s first two offspring to hit the track have proven a touch more precocious, both winning first out. Blushing Sis, out of the unraced Carson City mare Three City Sisters, debuted on April 3 at Manor Downs and won by eight lengths as the 3-2 favorite for trainer Cash Asmussen; she returned two weeks later to finish second in the Manor Downs Futurity. At Lone Star on Saturday, Lady Giacamo, 11-1, took a maiden special weight by 4 3/4 lengths after getting bumped at the start, then running wide into the stretch (replay). She’s out of Lady Gallapiat, a winner of five races from eight starts (no stakes) and dam of three other foals, two winners; her third dam is Inreality Star, dam of Meadow Star, the 1990 juvenile filly champion, and turf stakes winner Optic Nerve.

The first starter for First Samurai, winner of the 2005 Hopeful and one of the most physically stunning juveniles I’ve seen, finished third in a maiden special weight at Hastings this afternoon. This 2-year-old caught my eye not only because of his sire, but because of his name — Hornblower, which readers of Jane Smiley’s “A Year at the Races” may remember as the registered name of her homebred, Wowie, who finally won in his 11th start. The two might share more than a tag: “Weakened in the stretch” is the chart note for Hornblower ’08’s first run. Maybe he’ll improve next out. The colt is a half-sibling to graded stakes winner Spice Island, dam of Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.