By Angela Hermann
As the Festival of Champions approaches, we turn our attention to Minnesota-Bred two year olds. Though we haven’t seen all of the contenders hit the track yet, we’ve seen a few standouts break their maidens impressively. Here’s a glance at some of the names we’ll see September 4th:
• Rita’s Cheetah – Our very first two year old victor of the season took down males in her debut at 3 ½ furlongs. She hasn’t raced since but has worked out four times, including a bullet 5/8 on August 9th. This filly is bred to run at two, and has some of the best 2 year olds connections at Canterbury. If she returns to the form she showed in her first out, this could be an upset!
• Final Moment – Fans of Prairie Meadows have seen this filly run a trio of times for Chris Richard. She’s progressed nicely in each effort, amassing over $25,000 in earnings with her win and pair of place finishes. In her initial try, she broke tardy and still ran bravely five wide to finish second as the beaten favorite. Though she showed improved speed in the second go-around, it was in try number three that this Cactus Ridge filly broke her maiden. If she has the speed to wire open company, who knows if any of her statebred foes can keep up…..
• Jill’s Summer Raine – That brings us to this speedy Doug Oliver trainee. Well prepared for her career bow, Jill’s Summer Raine navigated five furlongs from an outside post in near wire-to-wire fashion. She followed in the footsteps of dam Bobsled, whose only race came at two and was won in speedy fashion. Sire Yonaguska did his best work at two as well, taking the G1 Hopeful Stakes in a long string of graded sprint victories. She’s also been working nicely as of late and should bring her A-Game come Festival Day.
• Go Go Jill – This Sampson-owned filly also took three tries to break her maiden, but did so decisively in her first try at 5 ½ furlongs. She’s another daughter of Cactus Ridge, out of stakes winning Go Go Jack. Though the time of her win didn’t break any track records, she appears to be a filly rounding into form at the right time with plenty of room to improve. The Sampsons don’t appear to have many other options for this race, so all hope will be riding on this gray homebred.
• Keewatin Ice – A talented filly that got off to a rough start, Keewatin Ice is most likely going to be one of if not the favorite in the Northern Lights Debutante. Though she broke slowly and had to circle horses, Bryan Porter’s charge determinedly got up by two lengths in her first race on Lady Canterbury day. Bred and owned by Cam Casby, the gray has not been on the track since but off her first effort alone should be taken seriously in a field loaded with speedsters. She appears to be fleet of foot herself in morning workouts, so keep an eye on post position to see where she’ll end up early. She’s a little filly with a big heart – That versatility only makes her more dangerous.
• Sputey’s Cabin – Tim Padilla’s lone two year old filly nominee to this race enters off two straight place finishes, both run against top-flight company. She’s quick, but needs to find a way to stretch her speed just a bit further. Strapped with an outside post in her last, Sputey’s Cabin had to fight slightly quicker fractions that she set in her first race, but stayed on well to finish a few lengths back of Go Go Jill. We know where she’ll be early, it’s just a matter of how long that speed can last. Maybe the third time will be the charm for this daughter of Ballado Chieftain.