Speed & Class Ratings: Juveniles Wit, High Oak among standouts

August 26th, 2021

A collection of juveniles by first-season sires have made the biggest early impression for students looking to see if they can spot the likely Breeders’ Cup winners.

Perhaps the best of them is a son of Practical Joke. The dual Grade 1-winning two-year-old has sired 10 winners to date and the most impressive has been Wit, an eight-length winner of the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga July 17. His peak Brisnet Class rating of 122.4 is the best of the juveniles noted here, and his Brisnet Speed rating of 96 just one below the best.

Practical Joke finished third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) behind Classic Empire – another who has made a good start as a stallion – but he was best up to a mile. The 1 1/16-mile Juvenile might be as far as Wit gets.

There should be fewer doubts about the stamina of the progeny of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner, who has made a smashing start to lead all juvenile sires. His early winners include Pappacap (Speed 89, Class 120.3), who took out the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar Aug. 7, and Wicked Halo (Speed 95, Class 121.0), successful in the Adirondack (G2) at Saratoga Aug. 8. Their next targets should be watched with interest.

Another to watch is High Oak (Speed 97, Class 121.0), a first-crop son of Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Gormley. High Oak was at double-digit odds in the Saratoga Special (G2) Aug.14 despite winning his debut at Belmont Park, but he ran away in the stretch for a three-length victory. Behind him in fourth was the Super Saver colt Double Thunder (Speed 81, Class 118.3), who earlier came from last to win the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Other winners to date of juvenile graded stakes – both progeny of first-crop sires – are Mohaymen’s daughter Elm Drive (Speed 96, Class 121.2), who showed terrific grit to win the Sorrento (G2) at Del Mar, and Schuylerville (G3) winner Pretty Birdie (Speed 90, Class 120.5), whose sire, Bird Song, is now in Saudi Arabia.

Outside graded stakes company, among the most impressive juveniles have been Behave Virginia (Speed 90, Class 119.1), who beat Wicked Halo in the Debutante S. at Churchill Downs in June, and the Wesley Ward-trained fillies Averly Jane (Speed 97, Class 119.1) and Happy Soul (Speed 88, Class 117.2).

It’s possible some of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup juvenile winners haven’t raced at all yet, and even more possible the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner hasn’t raced. The next month will provide more clues for both.



Wicked Halo

Happy Soul

Averly Jane