Somewhat lost in the excitement of Maximum Security’s triumphant return to the Grade 1 ranks in the Cigar Mile were the babies of Saturday. Stars of tomorrow? Possibly, we’ll see.
If time is the measure, and it always plays a huge role in assessing talent, handicappers had best make sure they get an excellent read on the speed of the surface.
The Aqueduct main track was deep. How deep? Well, if the choices are slightly deep or very deep, it would land somewhere in the middle, but the arrow would be pointing to the very deep side of the ledger.
Maximum Security ran a brilliantly fast race if the eyeball is a measure, which also plays a huge role in assessing talent; it’s where science turns into art.
The certain to be three-year-old Eclipse champion finished up his one-turn mile in 1:36.46, posting splits of 22.80, 46.17 and 1:11.03. Visually, it was a lot faster than the raw times suggest.
The G2 Remsen at nine furlongs for juveniles is a completely different animal, of course. A second turn and a mile and an eighth is a lot for a two year old to do, even in December.
Mid-Atlantic invader Shotski made all while being hounded throughout, mild pressure considering both Shotski and the rider looked very comfortable on the backside. En route to 1:54.24 were fractions of 24.26, 50.08, 1:115.19 and 1:41.10.
The winner ran great, the runnerup, Ajaaweed, given the dynamics, maybe even better. Appearing a bit heavy-headed, Joel Rosario had to get after him three-eighths from home and when he did, the Curlin colt lengthened stride and was in full stride, wide, at headstretch.
The Shadwell Stable bay was reaching the winner who was tiring nearing the line but they did gallop out as a team; so there’s threat. Chase Tracker was a very willing third. Three interesting soon-to-be-sophomores are worth following.
So is Demoiselle winner Lake Avenue, who is one talented miss. Her final time of 1:54.55 compares quite favorably to the boys as she stretched out well in start three after breaking maiden in second start by a somewhat astounding 12-3/4 lengths in a one-turn Aqueduct sprint.
Long striding Tapit filly cruised to the lead from the disadvantageous 12-slip, Junior Alvarado going on with it when no one else would. And she was no run-off, rating kindly enough while under a very snug hold. After straightening away in the lane, she separated herself.
Bill Mott’s going to have a lot of fun with this one going forward but Mark Hennig, who saddled runnerup Maedean had to be pleased by what he saw. Farther back than she figured to be, she angled off the rail, went into the breach and emerged with a winning place photo, a nice surge indeed.
At Los Alamitos, meanwhile, Bob Baffert won both juvenile stakes–ho hum–even if the races were anything but routine. Considering that Starlet winner Bast had only four rivals to beat, and Los Al Futurity winner Thousand Words had but three challengers, both races provided good theater.
Bast was allowed to set soft-for-California fractions in the G1 Starlet but she was hounded throughout by Dona Veloce, the over-aggressively bet but deservedly well-regarded 1-5 favorite. Bast had a tactical advantage, and used it.
It virtually was the same story in the G2 Los Al Futurity. Dynamics and race shape scenarios was almost a perfect match, final times of 1:43.36 and 1:43.19, respectively, making it so.
Baffert’s 12th Futurity win was courtesy of a game between-rivals stretch finish to hold BC Juvenile money finisher Anneau D’or safe, who was rallying from the middle of the wet track. Both colts ran very well.
Since the track was sloppy, we don’t quite know what any of it means until they come back another day. But they were good horses going into the weekend so in all probability the beat will go on.