Standout 2-year-olds so far

We’re one month into the stakes season for 2-year-olds. What do we know?

Nothing. We know absolutely nothing.

It’s easy to make these children into superstars already for winning a few races, but most of the time, we don’t see true Derby contenders until late in the season, and in Justify’s case, not until their 3-year-old campaign starts. It’s a game of hope and expectations; some dreams of a Derby win are crushed with a few disappointing finishes after a stakes win.

That being said, here’s what’s happened so far:

  • 8-5 favorite Fore Left made it 2 for 2 with an easy win in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont June 9. He led the 5 1/2-furlong race from start to finish, opening up a one-length lead at the start and then cruising to a five-length victory over Theitalianamerican. The son of Twirling Candy covered the distance in 1:04.44.
  • In the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs June 29, Phantom Boss made up for his second-place finish to Fore Left in their debuts at Santa Anita by winning his second straight race.

    The son of Shackleford settled into fourth place and then had to go four wide in the turn to battle for first, along with Verb, Rowdy Yates and Snell Yeah. But Phantom Boss pulled away in the final furlong, winning by a half-length over Rowdy Yates. Verb was third.
  • By Your Side made up ground in the homestretch, battling Tomato Bill for the lead before cruising to a three-length victory in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga – the only race Man O’ War lost. This time, the favorite won as By Your Side settled into second, seemed to stagnate entering the homestretch, but straightened up and won going away. Tomato Bill was second, Raging Whiskey was third.
  • The horse that everyone seems to be talking about is Dennis’ Moment, who won his maiden by 19 3/4 lengths at Ellis Park. The highly regarded son of Tiznow lost his debut when he unseated jockey Robby Albarado after clipping heels with another horse, but looked unstoppable in this race. Trainer Dale Romans called the horse “the total package.”

Next up in the stakes races: The Saratoga Special and Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on August 10.

Peter Lee

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