On The Verge : Two Year Old Stars
Handicapping

On The Verge : Let’s Talk Two Year Olds

On the Verge is a video series we have been releasing for nearly two years— and I have loved every minute of filming it. Being able to discuss upcoming stars with you is something I wholeheartedly look forward to each week.

What I have yet to do, however, is bring to you a written piece discussing juvenile athletes for both their strengths AND weaknesses.

Let me share some thoughts I simply can’t ignore— the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Instagrand

This colt by Into Mischief is a carbon copy of his leading sire. With looks to kill and an effortless way of going, Instagrand appears to possess the very attributes which make up a great horse. (Yes, I went there and used the infamous ‘G word’ all too often thrown around like confetti at a Taylor Swift concert).

But seriously, when was the last time a 2yo showed the turn of foot which Instagrand has so generously displayed in his last 2 starts? He’s brilliantly fast… he’s royally bred… he’s a champion in the making, no doubt.

My only reservation? Is he a horse who will excel going a route of ground? He certainly has the breeding; but, at this point in time, he looks like one hell of a sprinter to me.

That being said, he is far and away the best 2yo in America right now.

Sippican Harbor

Look, I am a woman who likes colts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good filly here and there, but I will take male racehorses at Golden Gate on a Friday afternoon over the females of Keeneland, any day of the week. (This may be a slight exaggeration. Maybe not.)

But… BUT… I love Sippican Harbor. She’s like the boy I never wanted to like growing up, but somehow fell in love with, without ever realizing. The daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Orb (who never won another race after said Derby) is exactly what I look for in a young horse. She’s beautiful, which is obviously of paramount importance; she’s trained by Gary Contessa, who is a likable guy; and she is as versatile as they come.

Though she ran a 5th in debut on the turf of Saratoga, she returned over a sloppy track to lead gate to wire and win by 17 lengths, ahead of a group of maiden fillies.

“But, Dude! What did she beat?” says the status quo handicapper.

The answer? Who knows— and it didn’t matter; because she returned in the G1 Spinaway and ran down a group of very good fillies, with an entirely different trip than she had previously won with.

In just 3 starts, she has run on turf, slop, and a fast track.

Her education will only grow, and she will only get better. Mark my words, she is your 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner. Yeah, it is really early.

No, I don’t care.

Game Winner

“The other Baffert” went and did it again. Just when all eyes were on highly-regarded Roadster, who absolutely ran like anything but his name in the Del Mar Futurity, Game Winner made a sustained run down the stretch to overtake leader Rowayton.

It took about 17 or so minutes for his name to appear atop way-too-early Kentucky Derby lists everywhere, partly because he had just tackled a G1 in California, and partly because his trainer’s name is Bob Baffert. (No disrespect to the White-Haired Wizard— we all know I am a total fangirl)

Personally, I don’t get it. Sure, Game Winner ran a nice race, but how good is the son of Candy Ride, owned by Gary and Mary (How cute, right? Their names rhyme) West? My guess, is not THAT good.

His stretch drive was very reminiscent of a 2yo Mor Spirit, and do you remember all that Mor Spirit accomplished?

Me neither.

Chasing Yesterday

Chasing Yesterday in the post parade as Sippican Harbor (no. 6) wins the Spinaway Stakes (Grade 1), Sep. 1, 2018 at the Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, NY. Ridden by Joel Rosario, and trained by , Gary Contessa finished 2 lengths in front of Restless Rider (No. 11). (Bruce Dudek/Eclipse Sportswire)

The little sister of American Pharaoh was an absolute mess in the G1 Spinaway, finishing well off the board in her second start. She must be an absolute bomb, right?

No. Wrong.

It was clear from her first stride out of the Saratoga gate, that she was not at all taking hold of the racetrack.

Could have been the surface, could have been the size of the field, could have been the shipping for a G1 after just a maiden win. But, the little filly with the big shoes to fill has much to do wrong before I will discount her talent.

She may be “Chasing yesterday” for a while as she figures things out, but I just have a feeling about her. Give her another chance. I think she’ll be a good one.

Bellafina

Guys, she won the G1 Del Mar Debutante rather easily, over budding stars, Mother Mother and Brill. To be entirely honest, I liked the latter 2 much better than the former, prior to Saturday’s race. The shocker? I still like them better.

I in no way discount that Bellafina beat them on the square. However, I believe both are better than the races they ran in the Debutante. Brill, for one, straight up laid an egg. She’s a nice filly who didn’t run a step, and I’m really not certain why.

So, you ask, what do I have against Bellafina?

Nothing. Kind of.

Guys, in her last 2 starts, she charged home on the wrong lead. Sure, she’s young and learning the ropes about what being a racehorse is. But, you have to admit— is there anything stranger-looking than a horse hobbling down the stretch on the wrong lead?

No, no there isn’t.

All of that ^ being said, if she ever figures out she has another lead, watch out— she’s fire.

 

2yo’s are fun. They keep us guessing as they grow— ever learning and changing day to day. Where will these 5 rank 3 months from now when the year comes to a close? While it seems I may know the answer, I am sorry to report that my crystal ball was lost somewhere in the fiery depths of Mount Doom, a.k.a. my bedroom.

I suppose we will just have to see how the season plays out.

Now….go follow us on Instagram @thoroughbredinsider and watch each week’s episode of On The Verge on our IGTV channel 😉

Article written by Nicole Schiveley

Chief Creative Officer

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