A busy Saturday of racing at Gulfstream Park produced a trio of promising maiden winners with possible Road to the Kentucky Derby aspirations. But 3-year-olds are in action all around the country at this time of year, and Aqueduct also tossed up an exciting prospect.
Let’s highlight four of the most noteworthy sophomore maiden winners from the week of Jan. 4-10:
Candy Man Rocket
Candy Man Rocket never fired in his debut at Churchill Downs, finishing seventh over a sloppy track. But the son of Candy Ride rebounded impressively on Saturday at Gulfstream, tracking splits of :22.79 and :46.11 before powering clear to win a 6-furlong sprint by 9 1/4 lengths in 1:11.28. Trained by Bill Mott, Candy Man Rocket was produced by a Forestry mare, so it’s unclear whether classic distances will be his true forte. But the dark bay colt clearly has talent.
First-time starter from the barn of Chad Brown rallied impressively from behind :23.70, :48.14, and 1:13.72 fractions to score by 2 3/4 lengths in one-turn mile maiden race on Friday at Aqueduct, reaching the finish line in 1:39.67. A son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags out of a mare by Preakness (G1) winner Bernardini, Carillo has the pedigree to thrive over classic distances and should only improve when tackling two turns in the future.
A son of Into Mischief out of an Elusive Quality mare, Lamutanaatty is bred for speed and early maturity, so it was no surprise to see him win his debut on Saturday at Gulfstream. Dashing 6 furlongs, the Chad Brown trainee dueled for command through splits of :23.08 and :46.59, then withstood a challenge from midpack closer Sainthood to score by a head in 1:11.92. The top two pulled 4 1/4 lengths clear of the rest, though the final time was 0.64 slower than the clocking posted by Candy Man Rocket on the same afternoon.
The fourth time was the charm for Simovitch, a son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense conditioned by Bill Mott. Runner-up behind Donegal Moon in a fast one-mile maiden race on Dec. 12 at Gulfstream, Simovitch graduated for fun in a nearly identical race on Saturday. After pressing fractions of :23.99 and :47.29 while racing between runners, Simovitch edged clear down the lane to beat a large field by 3 1/2 lengths. The Donald R. Dizney homebred stopped the timer in 1:39.04.