The 2019 Saratoga summer meet wrapped up on Labor Day with one final afternoon of high-class racing.
There were plenty of racing highlights during the 40-day meet, but while it was fun watching established stars like McKinzie and Midnight Bisou score Grade 1 wins, it was just as exciting to see a boatload of promising, well-bred 2-year-olds showcase their talent and potential in the numerous maiden and stakes races throughout the summer.
It’s entirely possible the best of these youngsters will make some noise in prestigious events like the 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Last year, we highlighted five juveniles to watch from the 2019 Saratoga meet, and four of them (Code of Honor, Complexity, Fog of War, and Mind Control) went on to win Grade 1 races.
Looking ahead, which juveniles from the 2020 Saratoga meet have the best chance to excel in major races down the road? Here are five up-and-coming juveniles you should add to your watch list:
It’s safe to say Basin enjoyed a terrific summer at Saratoga. After winning one of the fastest maiden races of the meet, Basin parlayed a pace-tracking trip into a decisive victory in the Grade 1 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes on closing day.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Basin looked like a winner every step of the way in the Hopeful, tracking fractions of :22.66 and :45.84 while seemingly poised to strike at any moment. Turning for home, Basin briefly drifted outward while challenging for the lead, but once jockey Jose Ortiz got him straightened out, Basin powered clear with authority to score by 6 ½ lengths. He stopped the clock for seven-eighths of a mile in 1:23.48 over a sloppy, sealed track and posted an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.
Sired by the brilliant miler Liam’s Map, Basin left no doubt about his superiority over the best Saratoga juveniles this summer. One of his beaten rivals in the Hopeful was the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes winner By Your Side, who had defeated Basin by a nose at Churchill Downs in June. Basin has obviously risen to a new level since then, but can he keep his momentum going? No Hopeful winner has gone on to prevail in a Triple Crown race since Afleet Alex in 2004-05, but Basin has started off on the right foot and figures to follow his older stakes-winning half-sibling (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) Rise Up down the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
On the final day of the meet, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher unveiled the promising Gouverneur Morris. Favored at 0.65-1, the son of Constitution was outsprinted through an opening quarter-mile in :22.38, but moved up steadily around the turn to assume command at the top of the stretch.
From there, it was a one-horse procession to the finish line. Under a hand ride from jockey John Velazquez, Gouverneur Morris finished fast down the lane, powering clear of his overmatched rivals to score by nine lengths over a sloppy, sealed track. His victory produced an 83 Beyer.
A half-brother to the graded stakes-placed Final Jeopardy, Gouverneur Morris sold for $600,000 as a 2-year-old in training and races for the partnership of Team Valor International and WinStar Farm, who have separately recorded victories in the Kentucky Derby. Together, this powerful team appears to have found a bright prospect in Gouverneur Morris, who is surely bound for a Grade 1 race in the near future.
Tap It to Win
Tap It to Win didn’t look like a star when finishing second in his debut on turf at Woodbine, but as a son of Tapit out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, he’s bred to excel on dirt and relished the change when tackling an Aug. 24 maiden race at Saratoga. After dueling for the lead through fractions of :22.32 and :45.33, Tap It to Win took the lead through a strong penultimate furlong in :11.97 and pulled away steadily down the homestretch to score by 3 ½ lengths. His final time of 1:09.60 for three-quarters of a mile produced a solid 86 Beyer Speed Figure.
Conditioned by Mark Casse, Tap It to Win is a homebred racing for Live Oak Plantation. The ridgling has shown serious speed in morning workouts and appears to have found his home on dirt. Although he was impressive sprinting at Saratoga, he’s bred to thrive running a mile or farther, making him an exciting prospect to follow in the months ahead on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Basin’s victory in the Hopeful was arguably foreshadowed two days earlier when Three Technique cruised to an easy 5 ½-length maiden score at Saratoga. The son of Mr Speaker had finished just 1 ¼ lengths behind Basin in the latter’s maiden win on July 21, so Three Technique’s own decisive triumph – achieved with an 83 Beyer – hinted that Basin would be tough to beat in the Hopeful.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Three Technique isn’t a speed-crazy youngster. Quite to the contrary, he was completely relaxed when breaking his maiden, settling five lengths off the pace (with only one runner beaten) before rallying powerfully in the homestretch. Since Mr Speaker was a Grade 1 winner on turf, it’s possible Three Technique could ultimately have a bright future on grass. But in the meantime, the promise he’s shown on dirt figures to keep him in a prominent spot as he travels down the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Racing for the same team as three-time Grade 1 winner Mitole, Tumbling Sky didn’t have an easy trip in his debut sprinting three-quarters of a mile on Aug. 10. The son of Competitive Edge was bumped at the start, then had to duel hard for the lead through fast fractions of :21.84 and :44.94. Despite these obstacles, Tumbling Sky gamely put away his pace rival at the top of the stretch and narrowly forged clear to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:09.86 seconds.
Tumbling Sky’s 79 Beyer Speed Figure wasn’t overly eye-catching, but the way he resiliently survived an intense pace battle was noteworthy. Conditioned by Steve Asmussen, Tumbling Sky wasn’t popular as a yearling, selling for just $13,000, but he brought $200,000 when resold as a juvenile and appears to have a bright future.