2YO Maiden Special Weight ‘Picks, Plays and Pontification’ – Keeneland, 04/05/2024

April 4, 2024

Keeneland, Race 2 – Friday, April 5, 2024

By The 2YO EdgeMan

KEE2:040524 – 4 1/2f on Dirt.  Nine colts, two fillies, and one gelding make up this 12-horse field, with one additional gelding on the Also Eligible list.  ‘The 2YO Maestro’ – Wesley Ward – will saddle two of these runners, Paul McEntee also has two, and John Ennis, John A. Hancock, and James Chapman each have one starter in the main field.  A few of the top sires include two from Frosted and one each by Collected, Runhappy, Bernardini, and Munnings.  Additionally, there are two First-Crop sires represented in this contest – Global Campaign and Instilled Regard.  Below are five that drew my interest, followed by my pick in this initial 2YO MSW of the 2024 season.

#3 – Strummin (6/1) – John A. Hancock sends out this colt who is sired by Flameaway.  He was a $12,000 ‘short’ yearling purchase from the 2023 Keeneland January Sale.  Mamma is by Kantharos and she was seven for 44 in her career (0 for 2 at age 2) and has produced one other foal – a 3YO full brother – who is unraced.   Although miles behind Wesley Ward in 2YO MSW wins at KEE in the spring, Hancock has visited the Winner’s Circle four times since 2019, which is the second most of all trainers.  This guy’s last two works have been at four furlongs over the KEE strip and his drill on 3/8/24 at Turfway Park covered three panels in 36.0 seconds (1/15).

#5 – Jet Sweep Joe (5/1) – This colt is one of the two in this field by Frosted and he’s conditioned by Paul McEntee who also does some excellent work with the babies, especially in the spring.  Bred and owned by Hall Stables, this fella has never gone through a public auction ring.  His dam, sired by Pioneerof the Nile, banked north of $200K while winning five times from 22 starts (0 for 1 as a 2YO).  She’s thrown one other foal – a winless (in seven starts) 5YO gelding by Twirling Candy.  This colt also has two works at today’s track and his two of his last three have been bullets.

#9 – Bostotonian (9/5) – The Morning Line favorite was a $40,000 yearling by Bernardini from a mare who was sired by Forest Wildcat.  His dam won as a 2YO in her third start but failed to post another victory in her career after that score.  This gelding is the first of two in this event trained by Wesley Ward.  All that Ward has done is win 23 MSW 2YO races at Keeneland in the spring over the past five years, from 51 to start (45.1%) with an ROI of an even $2.00.  Wesley has already had this gelding out for seven morning workouts, with the most recent four here at Keeneland and they’ve all covered 3/8th of a mile.  His last four have all been bullet works and his most recent two were completed in 35.0 flat.

#10 – Vinegar Hill (15/1) – John Ennis sends out this colt who is the second one in here by Frosted.  He hammered for $15,000 as a yearling (63/78).  His mom (by Coronado’s Quest) broke her maiden at the Keeneland Fall meet as a 2YO and went on to capture two black-type events in her juvenile campaign, ultimately winning four of 11 starts and $132K.  This colt has never worked on today’s strip, but he’s been in Lexington working across town at The Thoroughbred Center.  On 3/12/24, he fired a bullet there (1/38) going three furlongs in 35.0 flat from the gate.  He’ll be ridden by Julien Leparoux. 

#12 – Shoot It True (4/1) – WW will also saddle this lone Munnings filly to challenge the boys.  She was a $340K pickup (10/92) last August at the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Yearling Sale.  Malibu Moon is this filly’s broodmare sire and this filly’s cross has generated two, 2YO MSW winners over races with purses of $30,000 and over from 21 starts (nine unique starters).  Mom only raced twice and never found the Winner’s Circle.  Ward has had this gal out for five morning spins and the last four were at Keeneland.  The first two times that she saw this track (3/8/24 and 3/15/24), she zipped three panels in the fastest time of the day – 34.6 seconds from the gate (1/17) and 36.6 (1/6), respectively.  Tyler Gaffalione will climb into the saddle for today’s run.  

Pick – #12 Shoot It True – She’ll have to overcome the outside gate and will also have to prove ‘Girl Power’ and defeat a field full of boys, but I like her chances.  Nothing needs to be said about Mr. Ward, but I also like her cross and Munnings has had 15.1% (80 of 531) winners of MSW 2YO dirt races with a purse of $30,000 and over in the past 12 years.  And to add to all of that, there are not many better jocks than Tyler.

Contributing Authors

The 2YO Edge Man, Past The Wire

The 2YO EdgeMan

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