Samraat stayed undefeated with a win in the Feb. 1 Withers. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
Making the Grade, which will run through the 2014 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the next Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.
This week we take a closer look at Samraat, winner of the Grade 3 Withers Stakes on Feb. 1 at Aqueduct.
Samraat won his first three starts by a combined margin of 25 ¾ lengths, including a 16 ¾-length tour de force against New York-breds in the Damon Runyon Stakes. The Withers Stakes marked a significant jump in the quality of competition but the talented Noble Causeway colt cleared the hurdle impressively with a one-length win in his graded stakes debut.
Dark Bay or Brown Colt
Sire (Father): Noble Causeway
Dam (Mother): Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie
Owner-Breeder: My Meadowview Farm (Ky.)
Trainer: Rick Violette
Ability: With four wins in as many starts, it’s easy to see that Samraat has considerable talent. His first graded stakes test was a big step for the New York-bred on the 2014 Road to the Kentucky Derby. Samraat not only won but he put away a pretty nice opponent in Uncle Sigh in a race that essentially turned into a match race between the two of them.
The first clear sign that Samraat was a fast horse came when he won his debut by 3 ½ lengths in October at Belmont and recorded a 94 Equibase Speed Figure. He followed with a 5 1/2 –length romp that earned him a 92 Equibase Speed Figure before he closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a 108 figure in the Damon Runyon. The 108 was just a point back of the best speed figure among all 2-year-old males behind champion Shared Belief and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Outstrip. In his 2014 debut, Samraat took a step back in the speed figure department with a 95, but coming off a short layoff he has room to improve in his next two starts when the stakes become higher and the competition gets tougher.
Running style: Samraat had led from start to finish in his previous three races, but in the Withers he broke like a rocket and then settled in second behind Uncle Sigh. He was glued on his outside flank through the first six furlongs before shifting gears with about a quarter-mile left in the 1 1/16-mile race. Uncle Sigh battled bravely but was no match for the victor.
SAMRAAT WINS THE WITHERS BY A LENGTH
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglinese Photos
Samraat’s first three races were probably just an indication that he was faster than the opposition, much faster in fact. The Withers was the first time he was challenged at all early in a race and it is a great sign that he dropped right in behind the speed and waited until he was given his cue to put away a talented rival.
This is a horse with an abundance of speed and the ability to ration it if necessary. That’s a great combination.
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Connections: Samraat is trained by Rick Violette, who is the president of the National Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Violette has won more than 750 career races, including 30 graded stakes. He trained multiple graded stakes winner Read the Footnotes, who finished seventh in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. Read the Footnotes is Violette’s only previous Kentucky Derby starter. Violette has had two starters in the Belmont Stakes, with Citadeed’s third-place finish in 1995 giving the trainer a top-three finish in a U.S. classic.
My Meadowview Farm has had multiple starters in the Kentucky Derby with Noble Causeway, 14th in 2005, its best result. My Meadowview is owned by Leonard Riggio, the chairman of Barnes & Noble Inc., the world's largest bookseller.
Samraat’s regular rider, Jose Ortiz, is a 21-year-old native of Puerto Rico who ranked 10th in North America by victories in 2013 with 224. Ortiz has never had a Kentucky Derby starter. He also guided highly regarded 3-year-old Strong Mandate to a Grade 1 win in the 2013 Hopeful Stakes.
Pedigree: Samraat is from the third crop of 2005 Florida Derby runner-up Noble Causeway, who is a son of influential sire Giant’s Causeway. From 123 lifetime starters, Noble Causeway is the sire of 73 winners, including five stakes winners and four group or graded stakes winners.
Samraat is one of six winners from seven starters out of the Indian Charlie mare Little Indian Girl, a winner at 1 1/16 miles. He is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to three stakes-placed winners, including Screen Legend who was third in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie in 2009. Little Indian Girl is a half-sister to Nonsuch Bay, winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes in 2002.
Samraat’s grandam (maternal grandmother) was a winner at 1 mile and 70 yards.
Noble Causeway could develop into a very nice sire, and the maternal half of Samraat’s pedigree boasts some class and stamina although you would not say an abundance of either in this case.