Making the Grade, which will run through the 2018 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners or top performers of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 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.
Enticed battled bravely to the finish line to win the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and earn his first stakes victory on Churchill’s Stars of Tomorrow card. How brightly will this rising star shine? Let’s investigate …
Ability: A homebred of global horse-racing power Godolphin, Enticed is a regally-bred colt who won his career debut by 1 ¾ lengths in a three-quarter-mile sprint on a muddy track at Saratoga Race Course on Sept. 4. That’s a tough race to deduct much of value out of, given the wet track conditions and that the race was far shorter than what figures to be his ideal distance, but credit Enticed for overcoming adversity in his debut. He was “climbing” early, which can be interpreted just how it sounds: he looked like he was climbing rather than running in the early stages on a wet track he almost certainly disliked. Yet his natural talent was enough to allow him to win easily by 1 ¾ lengths while never appearing entirely comfortable.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin next gave Enticed a serious test in class when he entered him in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. The added distance stretching out to a mile and the fast main track at Belmont Park provided a better litmus test and Enticed ran a solid third. He finished 3 ½ lengths behind winner Firenze Fire and three lengths behind runner-up Good Magic, who went on to win the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile four weeks later. For his first two starts, Enticed earned 88 and 89 Equibase Speed Figures.
In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Enticed settled in nicely just behind the pace and waited patiently for his cue to accelerate. He’s a long-striding colt who gobbled up real estate once he straightened out leaving the final turn, and it looked like he might have briefly lost focus after he quickly reached the front. But once it became obvious that runner-up Tiz Mischief was ready for a fight, Enticed dug in gamely and pushed his head in front late. The Kentucky Jockey Club was a gutsy win that earned Enticed a new career-best 95 Equibase Speed Figure. He also gained 10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
While that number is well below the 119 Bolt d’Oro earned for winning the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes and the 113 Good Magic earned in the Juvenile, Enticed looks like a colt who can run all day and should improve as he matures. Plus, he still has plenty of time to develop before the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2018.
Running style: Enticed rallied from off the pace in his first two starts, but he never profiled as a deep closer devoid of speed. He’s got a nice cruising speed and used it effectively in the Kentucky Jockey Club when he stalked the pace from third early, never more than two lengths back in a 14-horse field. He probably will settle in as a stalker who is capable of settling a bit farther back when the pace is especially fast.
Connections: Enticed is owned and bred by the Godolphin operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. Godolphin won Eclipse Awards as outstanding owner in 2009 and 2012, and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley U.S. operation was named co-outstanding owner in 2006 (with Lael Stables) and outstanding breeder in 2012.
Godolphin has won virtually every major race in Europe through the years, but its lone success in the U.S. Triple Crown came in the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is a protégé of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. McLaughlin worked for Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai before returning to the U.S. He trained 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor and also won that year’s Belmont Stakes with Jazil. McLaughlin’s top finish in the Kentucky Derby was a second with Closing Argument in 2005.
Jockey Junior Alvarado has won more than 1,300 races in his career but has yet to record a top-three finish in a U.S. Triple Crown race. He won his first Grade 1 race in 2010 when he guided Éclair de Lune to a win in the Beverly D. Stakes. Other top wins include the 2013 Cigar Mile on Flat Out and the 2014 Whitney Stakes aboard Moreno.
Pedigree: Enticed is from the 10th crop of Medaglia d’Oro, who won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at 1 ¼ miles in 2002, ran second in the ’02 Belmont Stakes, and was the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in ’02 and 2003. Medaglia d’Oro earned $5,754,720 while posting eight wins and seven seconds in 17 starts.
As a sire, Medaglia d’Oro has been equally impressive. He currently ranks fourth among all North American sires with more than $12.4 million in progeny earnings and has ranked seventh or better in each of the previous three years, finishing second in 2015. His top runners include Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra and two-time champion Songbird. At this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Medaglia d’Oro’s Bar of Gold won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint going seven-eighths of a mile on the dirt and Talismanic won the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf going 1 ½ miles on the grass. Medaglia d’Oro is also the sire of the aforementioned dual Grade 1-winning 2-year-old Bolt d’Oro, who ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Enticed’s dam (mother), It’s Tricky, by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, was a Grade 1 winner for Godolphin at one mile, 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles and finished second in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (Distaff). His grandam (maternal grandmother), Catboat, was a graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles.
Improving Enticed has plenty of room for growth with a pedigree that boasts an alluring combination of class and stamina. This is definitely a 2-year-old to add to your Equibase Virtual Stable to follow on the 2018 Triple Crown trail.