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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM


Taking A Look At Post Triple Crown Late Developers

While the racing world remains in awe of the indisputable championship of first-in-thirty-seven-year Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, the upper tier sophomores are catching their breaths.
As of right now the presses are relatively quiet as the scribes wait to see if American Pharoah begins the second phase of his 3-year old (and most likely final) campaign either at Monmouth (Haskell Invitational) or Belmont (Jim Dandy Stakes) which each takes place the first weekend in August.

Undoubtedly there will eventually be attention paid to arguably the second-in-line Frosted and his further development as well as the return to serious training and racing of Dortmund and Firing Line (remember them) as well as the possible maturity of the likes of Keen Ice, Mubtaahij, Carpe Diem, Upstart and Materiality among others that competed early in the 2015 campaign and in one or more Triple Crown races.

But as we’ve discovered in recent weeks and as we have seen year in and year out, there are any number of late developers who weren’t quite ready to take on the Triple Crown races but nonetheless made careers nonetheless.

Today we are going to take a look at a number of recent 3-year old stakes races, both on dirt and grass and perhaps discover a few gems in the rough as the year moves through the summer and forward into fall racing.


Below we take a look at what could turn out to be key indicators of 3-year old males that have won or contended in what are considered under-card or secondary stakes races. From these races we have seen enough to get these runners on our radar as we move forward.

The stakes races in question took place between May 1 and June 21 and we’ll start with the most recent and move through the weeks to Kentucky Derby eve.

June 21 - PEGASUS STAKES (Monmouth)
Mr. Jordan - WIN $6.00
In his first race since being disqualified from first to second in the minor Tarpon Stakes at Gulfstream on April 25 the Eddie Plesa trained colt stalked the leader, took over in mid-stretch and held on. He has to be tested a bit more but is worth following.

June 20 - OHIO DERBY (Thistledown)
Mr. Z - WIN - $15.60...Tencendor - 2nd...Diving Rod - 3rd
Where have we seen this before? Is Mr. Z the second coming of Will Take Charge (also trained by D Wayne Lukas) a colt who was an afterthought in the Triple Crown but after a 7 week break returned to finish second to Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy and then win the Travers before moving on to a great fall campaign. Yes, this I the Ohio Derby and not the Travers, but still. Following him home were Tencendor, who made his first start since being up the track in the Kentucky Derby and Divining Rod, who skipped the Belmont Stakes after finishing third in the Preakness after winning the Bluegrass Stakes prior to that. Of the three, given his tactical speed and the fact that he was only beaten a nose and a head, Diving Rod might very well have the best upside.

June 14 - PLATE TRIAL (Woodbine)
Danish Dynaformer - WIN - $9.90...Conquest Curlinate - 2nd
As a winner of this precursor for the Queen’s Plate (part of the Canadian Triple Crown), Danish Dynaformer ran his third straight improved race as he got up inside the sixteenth pole to catch Conquest Curlinate, who closed and got first jump before giving way late. Both will likely return for the Queen’s Plate and where they evolve from there will remain to be scene. The runner-up has already shown ability in the states when he finished second to Madefromlucky in the Peter Pan Stakes and second in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and third prior to that in the Rebel at Oaklawn.

June 7 - AFFIRMED STAKES (Santa Anita)
Gimme Da Lute - WIN $9.20
Rallied to catch the well-regarded 3-5 favorite Prospect Park in this 8 1/2 furlong test and might be on an upswing after finishing a rallying third at 6 furlongs in the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard and third in the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

June 6 - EASY GOER STAKES (Belmont)
Japan - WIN $6.10
Lightly raced son of Medaglia d’Oro beat a reduced field of 3 in this first stakes test but did so in command. It remains to be seen whether the Bill Mott trainee will continue to move forward or go the way of recent Easy Goer Stakes winners such as Kid Cruz, Power Broker and Teeth Of The Dog, who became useful runners but never scaled the heights of the upper echelons.

May 30 -PENN MILE STAKES - Turf - (Penn National)
Force The Pass - WIN $20.00
The well-bred turf loving son of Speightstown has been a gem of consistency with this win, a head-short second to Woodwin W. in the James Murphy Stakes on the Preakness after a win at Gulfstream in the Cutter Bay Stakes after he broke his maiden over the same circuit in his prior. So far he has shown good mile speed on grass. If he can extend that he could be a serious turf campaigner as the year moves forward.

May 30 - PENNINE RIDGE STAKES - Turf - (Belmont)
Divisidero - WIN $6.30
The Bill Bradley trained son of Kitten’s Joy validated his upset win in the American Turf Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard when he outgunned the Chad Brown 4-5 entry which h finished second and third. He is getting stronger and could be a significant late season player on the lawn.

May 16 - JAMES MURPHY STAKES - Turf - (Pimlico)
Woodwin W. - WIN 9.00...Force The Pass - 2nd
We’ve already touted the exploits of Force The Pass (see the Penn Mile Stakes above) so obviously there is much to like about this son of More Than Ready, who made it three in a row as he moved from a maiden win at Gulfstream on March 18 to an allowance win at Pimlico on April 24 to this. He’ll have to continue to progress if he wants to moved forward in the likes of the Grade III National Hall Of Fame Museum Stakes at Saratoga and its kind. But he might be this good.

May 16 - SIR BARTON STAKES (Pimlico)
Fame And Power - WIN $6.00
As they usually do, Bob Baffert runners move forward quickly. This guy broke his maiden in hand on March 8 at Santa Anita, shipped to Keeneland for the Lexington and finished third behind solid contenders Divining Rod and Donworth and followed that with a impressive win on the Preakness undercard in the Sir Barton. Baffert’s barn is loaded, but he’ll find room for this guy so stay alert.

May 10 - LAZ BARRERA STAKES (Santa Anita)
Kentuckian - WIN $4.00
Well backed and showed why as this Jerry Hollendorfer trained son of Tiznow absolutely destroyed his rivals with a 7 furlong time of 1:20 4/5. Freshened since that strong showing the colt is in training and pointing towards the seminal Los Alamitos (previously Hollywood Derby) scheduled for July 4th. We’ll know much more about the colt after that race but the test was won by Shared Belief a year ago so a victory for Kentuckian will definitely confirm the buzz.

May 9 - PETER PAN STAKES (Belmont)
Madefromlucky - WIN $11.40...Conquest Curlinate - 2nd
We’ve already discussed the potential of second place finisher Conquest Curlinate and Madefromlucky was to say the least a major disappointment in the Belmont Stakes after such a promising showing in the Peter Pan. The Todd Pletcher trainee needs to regroup, but at this point it is too early to dismiss him completely off one bad start.

May 2 - AMERICAN TURF STAKES (Churchill)
Divisidero - WIN $19.20
(See Pennine Ridge Stakes above for discussion as to the winner.) But second place finisher A Lot was solidly competitive and trainer Bill Mott has kept him on edge by sending him out to a smart 5.75 length win as the 1-2 favorite in the 7 furlong Paradise Creek Stakes on 5/23 in a very stout 1:21 3/5. Son of Tapit has already shown serious tactical speed and bloodlines say he will stretch out. Just as the best baseball players move up from Triple A to attempt to claim their place in the upper echelons so will the above-mentioned runners look to move forward. And if they do, you’ll catch that at the right price much sooner than later.

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