Hanson: Spot Plays for Day 1 of Future Champions Festival at Newmarket

October 11th, 2023

The emphasis is on juveniles at Newmarket's Future Champions Festival this weekend, which kicks off Friday when four Group races will be offered. Not only will fillies take center stage in the featured Group 1, but also have legitimate chances in the the two pattern events open to males, too.

Here are horses of interest in Friday's three two-year-old stakes:

Race 1 — Cornwallis (G3) — 8:50 a.m. ET

Fifteen were declared for this wide-open, five-furlong dash, and I'm hoping #4 Rosario (12-1) can build on his recent third in the Flying Childers (G2) at Doncaster.

Rosario entered the Flying Childers having not run in nearly three months, since his fine debut win in at Ffos Las in Wales. Given those two factors, and that he was tackling England's top juvenile sprinter Big Evs, it was no surprise Rosario started at 33-1.

In the event, Rosario outran expectations. Despite conceding recency, he finished 4 1/2 lengths adrift of Breeders' Cup-bound Big Evs and 1 3/4 lengths behind returning rival Flora of Bermuda.

I'm hoping Rosario can close the gap on that filly with a more productive late bid second off the bench, and the prospect of rain and softening of the Newmarket course might also be beneficial to Rosario. His sire, Harry Angel, generally thrived in such conditions.

Race 2 — Oh So Sharp (G3) — 9:25 a.m. ET

This has been the English season to fade Godolphin runners generally, but I do fancy their #4 Dance Sequence (5-2) in this spot.

Dance Sequence looked far from the finished article winning on debut at Newmarket on July 1, but did hold on by a measured half-length without having to be called on for much more than vigorous hand encouragement by jockey William Buick.

Dance Sequence descends from Playful Act, who captured Friday's Group 1 feature back in 2004.

Race 5 — Fillies' Mile (G1) — 11:10 a.m. ET

#6 See the Fire (6-1), who won on debut Aug. 12 going seven furlongs over the July Course, stepped up to contest the one-mile May Hill (G2) at Doncaster last month and turned in a decent effort to finish second, three lengths behind Darnation. That rival had previously won a Group 3, but perhaps didn't care for faster ground at Longchamp when only fifth in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Oct. 1.

See the Fire has as much upside as anyone else here, and the public choices do not stand out in my estimation. Pedigree lovers will find her attractive, too, as she's a daughter of Sea the Stars and Arabian Queen, who infamously knocked off Golden Horn in the 2015 Juddmonte International (G1) at odds of 50-1.