Here’s Why: Horses to Know in the Sanford Stakes
By Candice Hare
Thursday, July 23, 2014
It’s Saratoga time and Here’s Why is back just in time for when two-year-old racing “gets real”. The Sanford Stakes is the first of the series of three major graded stakes for two-year-olds held at Saratoga with the Saratoga Special and the Hopeful Stakes still to come.
This week, we’re diving into the pedigrees and trainer stats of my top two choices in the Sanford Stakes in order to give some insight into how I handicap two-year-old races, particularly these early season races in which most of the horses are very lightly raced.
He’s Comin in Hot (Early Flyer – Shocktime, by Langfuhr)
By third ranked Texas sire Early Flyer (the list I have has Early Flyer third behind Too Much Bling and Valid Expectations), He’s Comin in Hot looks to have inherited some of his precocity. Early Flyer not only won on debut at Santa Anita over five and one half furlongs, but he proved to be a solid young horse who finished in the top three in his first eight starts. In the last five years, his two year olds have proven to be solid as 52 of 77 have won over 263 starts (20%) and have done even better on dirt, winning 22% of the time. His progeny also typically do well at this six furlong trip, as they’ve won 15% of the time, generally between six furlongs and seven and three quarter furlongs. He’s Comin in Hot’s dam Shocktime, like her son, was trained by Calhoun and she was also a precocious type, having won her first two starts by over a combined 21 lengths including a dominating 12 ¾ stakes win at Lone Star. In addition to Shocktime, He’s Comin in Hot’s second dam Red Thread also produced stakes placed two-year-olds Red Phone and Shockman. Other closely related successful two-year-olds include debut winner Ms. Officer Rocket; Crypto’s Wild, who was fourth in the Grade 3 Landaluce and Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes in her first two starts; two-year-old winner Itsallboutthechase; and runaway debut winner and Display Stakes fourth Runaway Lion. If that’s not enough precocity for you, his grandsire Gilded Time was Champion two-year-old colt who won the Grade 2 Sapling Stakes, Grade 2 Arlington-Washington Futurity, and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, while his second dam sire is Devil His Due — a multiple graded stakes winning son of Champion two-year-old colt Devil’s Bag.
In addition to his fantastic “win early” breeding, trainer Bret Calhoun does very well with these types. Not only does he win over 20 percent of the time with two-year-olds in general, but over the past five years, he’s won 25 percent ($2.01 ROI) with two-year-olds who won last time out. His runners do typically take money (although not nearly as much at Saratoga as, say, Lone Star) and he hasn’t had overwhelming recent success with two-year-old graded stakes runners at Saratoga over the past five years. His win early pedigree, his experience edge, having already ran over the distance, and his inherent early speed make him a major player in this spot. Not to mention, his form has already begun to show slight signs of strength with beaten foes Tapit in the Hole, Acapulco, and Ifyouwinyougetmore having come straight back to win.
Twirling Cinnamon (Twirling Candy – Cinnamon Charlie, by Indian Charlie)
Second ranked first-crop sire Twirling Candy — himself a winner in his only start as a two-year-old — sires contender Twirling Cinnamon. A come from behind winner in his only start, Twirling Cinnamon’s form has quickly been flattered by the likes of both Range Rider and Air America who won next time out.
There isn’t much data to go off of with regards to Twirling Candy being that this is his first crop, but so far, his two-year-olds have won at a 17% clip and that percentage is boosted to 19% winners on dirt. Twirling Cinnamon’s dam Cinnamon Charlie won all three starts as a two-year-old including a four and a quarter length romp in the Pin Oak Stud Hildene Stakes at Laurel Park. All three of Cinnamon Charlie’s wins as a juvenile came over today’s distance of six furlongs. Cinnamon Charlie was also a half sibling to debut two-year-old winners Follow Woody and Multimillionaire. Also appearing close-up in Twirling Cinnamon’s pedigree are Kentucky Derby third place finisher and winner of his first four starts — including a twelve length romp in his only start as a two-year-old — Indian Charlie, multiple graded stakes (and two-year-old debut) winner Cox’s Ridge, and juvenile stakes runaway winner Ride the Rails.
Twirling Cinnamon is trained by Brad Cox, who generally wins 18 percent of the time with two-year-olds. With two-year-olds who have won their last start, Cox has a 1-from-10 record during the past five years for a $0.52 ROI. His overall record over the past five years at Saratoga is good enough, however, to not completely dismiss the horse based upon that one stat, but value should be demanded if planning to bet the horse to win.
She handicaps races on her website ‘Capping with Candice and is the co-host of a weekly YouTube race preview show entitled “Down to the Wire.”
You can follow Candice on Twitter @Chare889.