Since the closing of Hollywood Park, the California tracks have been juggling track dates and stakes races. The Los Alamitos Futurity a/k/a Cashcall Futurity a/k/a Hollywood Futurity is the last Grade One race of the year held for two year old colts. Since the race’s inception in 1981, 16 colts who hit the board in the Futurity have also run in the money in at least one of the Triple Crown races. Six won the Kentucky Derby and three each the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Last year’s Los Alamitos Futurity hero Dortmund has lost to only one horse, Triple Crown Champ American Pharoah. Dormund finished third in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
In the last two years, the Los Alamitos Futurity drew very strong fields. The late, great Shared Belief kept his win streak intact in ’13, and last year, Dortmund rallied for an edge of your seat performance. This year’s field of seven contenders have all suffered losses at one time or another.
The ones to beat
The likely favorite, out of the (who else) Bob Baffert stable is Toews on Ice (Archarcharch – Wild Forest Cat, by D’wildcat). The son of this year’s fifth-leading freshman sire, has won his last three starts, all stakes races. In Toews on Ice’s last start, Martin Garcia kept the colt up on the lead, taking the short way around the Del Mar oval in the Bob Hope Stakes (G-3). They held off a serious challenge by Mac Daddy Mac, by 1 ¼ lengths. Toews on Ice is the first foal out of the juvenile stake placed Wild Forest Cat. She’s a half to the stakes winning sprinter Glitter City (City Place). The colt’s pedigree indicates that 1 1/16 miles may be as far as he wants to travel. Toews on Ice has been breezing very well at Santa Anita. He posted two muscle-building 6F breezes pre-race. He owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field.
Mor Spirit (Eskendereya – Im a Dixie Girl, by Dixie Union) is one of two colts who have raced 11/16 miles. After winning his maiden impressively by four lengths at Santa Anita, the stablemate to Toews on Ice shipped to Kentucky for a start in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G-2). He was up on the lead in the 1 1/16 mile race, but couldn’t hold of the more experienced Airoforce. Mor Spirit flashed speed in a quick pre-race 4F drill in 47.80 (2/36). Mor Spirit is out of a precocious stakes winning sprinter. His second dam is a multiple stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles and she’s a half sister to the dam of Santa Anita Oaks heroine Stellar Wind. If he can avoid a speed duel, Mor Spirit has the pedigree to handle 1 1/16 miles with ease.
Hitting the Board
The late blooming Urlacher (Discreet Cat – Perceive, by A.P. Indy) raced very greenly down the stretch in his last start, coming out on Sorryaboutnothing who had to check. Jockey James Graham didn’t help matters, as he was whaling on Urlacher’s left side and the colt veered out in response. Urlacher flashed under the wire first, but was DQ’ed for interference, giving Sorryaboutnothing the technical victory. Despite running with his head cocked to the side, trainer Eoin Harty didn’t add blinkers to Urlacher. Previously, Urlacher was trounced by Mor Spirit both times they met up. Urlacher’s unraced dam is a half sister to graded stakes winners Etched (Forestry), Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) and Emotionless (Shamardal). Urlacher’s second dam is Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Unbridled Elaine. Urlacher breezed a bullet 6F in his second to last work. He may not be up to the level of the top two, but if he improves off of his last, Urlacher could be tough.
Sorryaboutnothing (Repent – Royal Card, by Chapel Royal) is making his third start in the Los Al Futurity. Although he was bothered by Urlacher in his last and had to check near the wire, the colt gathered himself and came back competitively. Sorryaboutnothing’s dam is a multiple stakes placed miler. She’s a half sister to a stakes winner who has produced a couple of stakes placed runners, so there’s some decent blacktype in the immediate family. The Doug O’Neil trainee breezed a sharp pre-race 6F, so he should be ready to roll. The only question here is, will the incident in his last race take something out of Sorryaboutnothing?
I’malreadythere (Crown of Thorns – Wildfire Ruby, by Wild Event) has hit the board in four of five starts, but his only win came in maiden turf sprint at Gulfstream Park. He was outclassed by five lengths in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes by Hollywood Don, but did return with a good effort in the Zuma Beach Stakes. I’malreadythere dueled the entire mile over the lawn and missed the win photo by ½ length. The colt hasn’t proven as effective over the dirt. Two tries have resulted in a fourth place maiden race and a distant third in the Bob Hope Stakes 4 ½ lengths behind Toews on Ice. I’malreadythere owns the only blacktype in two generations of his distaff line.
The Wrong Surface
In his initial dirt attempt, Hollywood Don (Tapit – Ocean Drive, by Belong to Me) was a very distant third behind the battling Nyquist and Swipe in the Frontrunner Stakes (G1). Previously, the son of leading sire Tapit strung together back-to-back victories over the lawn, including a 1 ½ length score in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes over a contentious line-up. Hollywood Don is a half to the multiple stakes winning turf sprinter, West Ocean. Three other half siblings preferred turf to dirt and their dam is a multiple G3 winner on grass. Hollywood Don may be versatile to handle multi-surfaces, but so far, his strongest form appears to be over the lawn.
Sorryaboutnothing’s stablemate Frank Conversation (Quality Road – Rushen Heat, by Unusual Heat) needed a search party in his dirt debut, finishing 18+ lengths out of it. The son of Quality Road gave notice that turf is his preferred surface with a 1 ½ length score over the lawn in his next race. He came back to just miss the place spot in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3). Frank Conversation’s dam was second in the 1 ¼ mile California Cup Distance Handicap over grass. She’s a full sister to Las Virgenes Stakes (G1) heroine Golden Doc A and to the multiple graded stakes veteran Unusual Suspect. It isn’t the distance that will get to Frank Conversation, he should handle middle distances and perhaps go farther. The dirt surface is suspect.
Six of the seven colts are pace setter/pressers, so we may wind up with a lively pace.
Bob Baffert has trained seven winners of this race, including last year’s victor, Dortmund. Baffert trained back-to-back winners in ’08 – ’09 with Pioneerof the Nile and Lookin at Lucky and in 1999 – 2000 with Captain Steve and Point Given.
#5 MOR SPIRIT (8-5)
#1 URLACHER (12-1)
#6 SORRYABOUTNOTHING (12-1)
#4 TOEWS ON ICE (9-5)