Drop The Ball, Hurrikane Kingcole, Googoo Gaagaa and Intimidate are all fascinating horses: there’s something compelling about them that draws us in. I made a list of five of the most fascinating young horses to compete during 2013. One thing they all have in common is extreme speed, but some have been better than others at harnessing it. Most of them have issues to deal with, and how successful they are at overcoming those issues will determine whether they go the way of To Dream On and Odds On Equuleus or Bee and Captaintreacherous.
Ron Burke’s mid-season acquisition Ultimate Beachboy rates high on the fascination quotient. The SBSW gelding, out of the ten-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare Ultimate Bet, brought $57,000 at Harrisburg and is obviously fast and apparently very lazy. Burke bought him a couple of weeks before the Adios. Oddly enough another SBSW gelding, Beach Memories, who won the PA Championship, shares the world record for a three-year-old gelding on a 5/8 track with Ultimate Beachboy. Limelight Beach, who looked to be the top dog in his class for a while there, is another incomplete Beach. The same goes for Somewhere In LA, Cowboy Terrier and Normandy Invasion.
Beachboy gave the Adios a shot, without much luck. He then went back and forth with Sam Hill in the preferred class at The Meadows and he also competed in the Stallion Series. In one of those starts he dawdled along 15 lengths behind the field , until he kicked the bike, got scared, and proceeded to catch and pass the field, winning by a neck. Although he earned a respectable $127,000 for the year, they’ll be looking for more consistency in the open class in 2014. Burke already has Foiled, Sweet Lou, Clear Vision and Annieswesterncard. Also, Dedi’s Dragon will be graduating along with Ultimate Beachboy to the senior class.
Dewey needs a winner—desperately; a high profile son that is. His daughter Ma Chere Hall looked good chasing Bee around but Dewycolorintheline didn’t impress, that Yonkers Trot win notwithstanding. Dewey’s hope for vindication lay with Kentucky SS champ Master Of Law. The striking gelding, who was a $70,000 Lexington purchase, is out of the millionaire Possess The Magic, winner of the BC, Bluegrass, Debutante and Kentuckiana. When he outclassed the field in the $250,000 Kentucky SS Championship it represented his fifth straight victory. During that race he rolled effortlessly to the top during a :26.4 second quarter. It looked like he might surpass RFL and Spider in the fall. However, after an impressive win in his CTC elimination for Scott Zeron, he broke in the final. Then he broke in the bluegrass and the KY Futurity as well as in his final start, the Erskine at Hoosier Park. He was favored in all but two starts—the CTC and Kentucky Futurity. Master of Law won 6 of 11 starts—whenever he stayed flat.
While he’s been flying under the radar throughout the season, the small American Ideal colt He’s Watching qualifies as one of the most fascinating horses of 2013. While he jumped early in the year, his primary issue is the fact that he’s essentially unstaked and must be supplemented to everything. The fact that he’s by a name stallion and only sold for $3,000 at the sales adds to his allure. His dam, Baberhood, recently sold for $130,000 in foal to Rocknroll. His fourth dam is the outstanding Abercrombie mare Leah Almahurst, a millionaire who won the BC and Jugette. Colts of this quality that sell dirt cheap and aren’t staked don’t come along very often.
He won all eight of his starts and earned close to $300,000 in the New York SS. His extreme speed was evident right from the start as he came home in :26.1 in his first qualifier at Mohawk. He broke on the first turn in his first start at Saratoga for Jim Morrill and subsequently made up more than 14 lengths to win in :55. Next time out he broke Heston Blue Chip’s track record at Buffalo. Later on he set a world record for his class with a mile in :50 at Tioga, erasing Heaven’s mark. He’s Watching also broke the track record at Vernon and set a world record at Yonkers.
The Muscara family, who are connected to Mister Big, Mach Three and Art Official, bought into the colt and will take control when his racing days are over. David Menary and his owners say they’ll be supplementing him to everything in sight next year. We’ll see if he goes heavy on the NYSS circuit and picks his spots on the Grand Circuit, ala Heston Blue Chip, or favors the GC like Vegas Vacation. He’s a finalist, along with BC winner Luck Be Withyou, for the Dan Patch. Typically the BC winner vs. a sire stakes colt would be no contest but Luck was ignored all year in the Top Ten Poll while He’s Watching has been a second tier presence all along. I can’t see him losing that race.
There was quite a bit of controversy this year over whether or not the track at Pocono is a full mile in circumference. Just about all the trotting world records have been set there. The one that really drew attention to this issue was Cooler Schooner’s word record of :51.3 in a PASS race. She hit the quarter in :26.4 and was up by six at the 3/8 for John Campbell. Division champ Shake It Cerry tried to catch up from the 5/8 on but, as valiant as her effort was, she was no threat as Schooner breezed home in :28.1. The 1:51.3 mile also eclipsed anything ever done on a mile track. This was three ticks faster than Father Patrick went and two full seconds faster than BC and Merrie Annabelle winner Shake It Cerry went. In the context of that division this was the equivalent of Steady Star time trialing in :52 in 1971.
Cooler Schooner (Broadway Hall—Pine Schooner—Pine Chip) was bred and is owned by Fashion Farms, as was the case with her full sister Broadway Schooner, a division winner in 2009 off of scores in the BC and the Oaks. Their dam is a sister to the accomplished Supergill stallion Toss Out, who banked $1.7 million two decades back.
Despite her advantage in the speed mark category Cooler Schooner was no Shake It Cerry. She beat NW2 in her first start, won a pair of PASS races and took her BC elimination—that was it. No Merrie Annabelle, Goldsmith Maid, Matron or BC; those races went to Cerry. Still, the pair were co-favorites in the BC at even money. Schooner wasn’t content with a pocket trip behind Cerry and ran out to the quarter. That was her last start. Let’s hope she gets her act together before July. Check Me Out was a great filly but Maven and Missy B made it somewhat competitive and beat her in the BC and the Filly Futurity. Contrast that with this year when Bee towered over her foes.
Fifth, but by no means last, on this list of fascinating horses from 2013 is the Art Major filly, She’s Da Bomb. The speedy miss is a full sister to the 2011 Wilson winner, Major Bombay. Her second dam, Mattaroni, was a Dan Patch winner in 1998. During her career that one won the Adioo Volo, Countess Adios, Sweetheart, Kentuckiana and ISS. And Mattaroni is a sister to the dams of Village Jasper and Rocklamation. She’s Da Bomb (For all of her Canadian starts she was Shes Da Bomb?) is trained by Tony O’Sullivan and owned by Frank Bellino.
This freshman filly won splits of the Bluegrass, Eternal Camnation and Champlain; she and Precocious Beauty are the O’Brien finalists. She drew off from the field to win the Eternal Camnation by five lengths for Doug McNair after being parked the quarter in :28. She’s Da Bomb subsequently wowed Jody Jamieson in the Champlain. He said he was “ecstatic” about having the opportunity to drive her going forward. She won that race in :50.3 as the 1/5 favorite. Jamieson then won a split of the Bluegrass with her as the even money favorite from the ten post.
She disappointed in her BC elimination as the 2/5 favorite, and she was unable to come from the back in the final. However, with Allstar Rating, Uffizi Hanover and Southwind Silence set to join her in the sophomore battle with Precocious Beauty, 2014 could be a year for the three-year-old pacing fillies to shine.