Breeders’ Cup Friday was for the youngsters and some sensational performances took place. The race for champion two-year-old male is over with Game Winner clinching that award with his Juvenile (G1) triumph. Colt is four-for-four this season for Bob Baffert and should be a unanimous selection.
Newspaperofrecord, who blitzed her third consecutive field in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) stroll, makes the race for champion two-year-old filly a most interesting one. I will save the debate for another day, though.
Here are a few other horses that piqued my interest on “Future Stars Friday.”
The ease in which Jaywalk took the Juvenile Fillies (G1) was among the most impressive races that I viewed over the weekend. Daughter of freshman sire Cross Traffic broke best and took pilot Joel Rosario right to the lead in a solid field.
Gray looked to be traveling in effortless fashion to the top of the lane, and she rolled home from there by 5 1/2 impressive lengths. From a visual standpoint Jaywalk clearly passed the test for me. She did everything in a smooth and professional manner. And the numbers backed it up!
Jaywalk earned substantial 110 and 114 BRIS E1 and E2 Pace figures. Instead of tiring after demanding splits, the lass found another gear to kick clear in the lane. Filly registered a hefty 103 BRIS Speed number and looks like a star to me. The fact that Rosario got off of Spinaway (G1) queen Sippican Harbor to ride Jaywalk was an indicator of his opinion of the winner.
Runner-up Restless Rider ran her race to be second for Ken McPeek. Talented and consistently very good daughter of Distorted Humor has endured a superb two-year-old campaign with an Alcibiades (G1) tally, a pair of Grade-1 seconds, and a splendid Debutante romp.
In both of her 2018 setbacks, Restless Rider traveled wide throughout over demanding surfaces. Gray will be a force as a sophomore with continued development.
Juvenile Turf (G1) second Uncle Benny is a fine prospect that I look forward to watching in 2019. Jason Servis trainee has run a trio of huge races to begin his career while handling whatever has been thrown in his direction.
Colt won at first asking in wire-to-wire fashion at Monmouth Park on the main oval. In his second appearance, Uncle Benny rallied from last with an eight-wide burst to earn a victory in the grassy Futurity at six furlongs over “Good” turf at Belmont.
Going long for the initial time while facing Grade1-foes over a “Yielding” turf surface at Churchill, Uncle Benny broke slow, got in some traffic and also got bumped hard in the final stages of the Juvenile Turf. Yet, he still finished a close second.
Uncle Benny’s second dam is two-time Grade1-winning millionaire Starrer, who thrived on the dirt. And her half-sister, Stellar Jayne, is a three-time Grade1-winning millionaire on the same surface.
With a pedigree to run long and to handle the main track, Uncle Benny is high on my list of early Kentucky Derby (G1) prospects leading into 2019.
I am glad Knicks Go followed up his Breeders’ Futurity (G1) heist with a big showing in the Juvenile. I never thought the Ben Colebrook trainee was a fluke at Keeneland after getting his final five-sixteenths in a swift :31 3/5. And I don’t think this race was an accident, either.
The combination of route racing, and the addition of Lasix, has really turned the colt into a major player. Son of Paynter doesn’t sport the best classic pedigree and he might have limitations down the road. But nobody should doubt the class and ability of the Maryland-bred.