As the racing season winds toward winter, serious classic watchers are ever aware of the late-maturing colts who may progress to become the stars of their second season.
One of the sires who is a consistent source of later-maturing juveniles is A.P. Indy’s son Bernardini. A horse who did not come to his form until 3, Bernardini usually gets stock that will be goodish at 2, then improve out of sight through the early months of their 3-year-old season.
On the Nov. 22 race card at Aqueduct, Bernardini had a couple of nice prospects, both winning their maidens while racing a mile on dirt. In the fourth race, Seymourdini became a winner in his third start after a pair of sharp seconds going six furlongs. The bay ridgling went the mile in 1:38.40 and cruised home by nine lengths as the 2-5 favorite. Out of the graded stakes winner Graeme Six (by Graeme Hall), Seymourdini is a half-brother to Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks winner Delightful Joy (Tapit) and to stakes winner Cali Star (Street Cry). Bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Seymourdini sold for $900,000 to Iris Smith Stable at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s April auction this spring.
In the sixth race at Aqueduct, Shagaf won his début by five lengths in 1:37.61. Bred in Kentucky by owner Shadwell Farm, Shagaf is out of the stakes-winning mare Muhaawara, by Unbridled’s Song. Muhaawara is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer (by A.P. Indy), and their dam is G1 winner Habibti. The latter is not the superb Irish-bred mare by the great Sir Gaylord stallion Habitat but is one of the best performers by Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat (Storm Cat).
In addition to Shagaf being another bright maiden winner for the stable, Shadwell has one of the most intriguing stakes juveniles of the late fall season in Mohaymen (Tapit). Winner of both his starts to date, Mohaymen defeated Seymourdini in their debuts and then progressed to win the G2 Nashua Stakes in a mighty professional sort of second start.
Mohaymen is expected to race next in the G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct over nine furlongs, and that race, of all the stakes on the East Coast at this time of year, is the launching pad for classic dreams.
In addition to classic winners like Northern Dancer, Damascus, and Pleasant Colony being past winners of the Remsen, the race has been won recently by such progressive racers as Honor Code, who defeated the talented Cairo Prince in a thrilling renewal of the event in 2013.
In other years, the race has been won by some extraordinary future slugs, but let’s not think about them just yet.
A victory in the Nov. 28 Remsen would be a serious step forward in Mohaymen’s prospects for the classics, emphasizing both his ability to race the distance at this point in his young career, as well as his obvious progressiveness.
The good-looking gray will need both class and stamina as he moves along the unforgiving path to the Kentucky Derby and other classics in 2016.
Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farm and bought for $2.2 million as the equal high-priced yearling of the season at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Mohaymen would appear to be worth every cent if he wins the Remsen and makes himself the wise guys’ choice for the classics of 2016. Furthermore, he would be a really exciting prospect for Shadwell, which has been among the most successful breeders in the world for three decades, although rather quietly so among American fans because the operation infrequently races youngsters in the States.
If sent to follow the program pursued this year by Godolphin stable star Frosted (also by Tapit), Mohaymen would be an exciting prospect to exceed his stable companion (both trained by Kiaran McLaughlin). Frosted was second in the Remsen last year, improved to win the G1 Wood Memorial, then was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont.
And of such things as these are classic dreams made.
**(Written last week before Mohaymen’s victory in the Remsen)