First and foremost, I want to say thanks to the SRF staff for all their past coverage as much as welcoming me onto staff to cover some stakes racing. I hope that I can provide the community with as much information, entertainment, and quality coverage as the wonderful writers have done here in the past. Being welcomed to SRF, I thought for my first article it may be worthwhile to reflect on Howl Of The Hound’s near history-breaking run. Sold at auction for less than $30, Howl of the Hound was by no means the cream of my 2 year old crop that season. That fact that he sold for less than thirty dollars with a direct quote from MB Stables, “I doubt my max bid was more than thirty-five dollars,” proves that HRP is nearly identical to real life racing– At least when scouring for talent. The horse captured the imagination of the site for three weeks between the PRK to the Belmont. Opinions buzzed the forums, those who thought he couldn’t win and those who thought he wouldn’t lose. It felt like the Secretariat run, or perhaps American Pharoah run– the collective imagination of the community directed on one virtual horse, to see if the impossible could be done. Albeit, the real-life horses just broke gaps in TC winners, while at HRP we’ve yet to see this done. It seemed like the right moment, it seemed like everything was falling into place. Yet, it wasn’t meant to be. A three-quarter length upset by a driving hard War Chant caused a collective gasp from the HRP community. For a lot of us, the gasp was out of shock that Howl of the Hound handled the distance that well, that he fought to the lead and had a chance to win. For me, it was shock that he lost. I thought perhaps it was the right moment for HRP to see a TC winner, to draw in new owners, to generate immense excitement about the biggest accomplishments in the sport. It wasn’t meant to be thought. But for 5 weeks following the KYD, Howl of the Hound had me logging in daily to read the forums, to check in with Dan on weight and training, going to the chatroom to debate whether HOTH had the pedigree to go the distance. It was exciting, an excitement we share exclusively with one-another. I told anyone who would listen about HOTH and his potential to win the virtual triple crown and how no horse had done it and how big the prize money would be…. From my fiancé to the stranger I met in line at Churchill Downs during race day, the reactions were the same. They stared at me in utter disbelief that a grown man could be excitement over “a game.” This is a small community, a niche community. Together for a brief moment, it seemed like PS squabbling and personal vendettas disappeared– And we focused on the race. THE race. HOTH coming down the stretch, battling Princess Jasmine off the lead only to see a closing War Chant get by for a 3/4 win. Despite the silent viewer on my computer screen, I swear I could hear the roar of the crowd. It reminded me of watching Zenyatta shake loose in the 2009 Breeder’s Cup Classic. That’s why we love this game. Those moments. Whether you are the breeder of the TC contender, the trainer, or the owner trying to spoil the feat. While War Chant proved too much for HOTH at 12F, HOTH gave us all something we probably didn’t have a year ago; strong belief that the Triple Crown is winnable. Just like in real life, the journey to the 2022 Triple Crown chase begins now. For hundreds of virtual owners and trainers, we begin prepping and placing our two year olds in hopes of having a KYD contender. So in our of HOTH and Dan as well as War Chant and Dave, who gave us the most remarkable race I’ve ever seen at HRP… I’d like to take a way too early look at potential triple crown threats in 2022!
So in our of HOTH and Dan as well as War Chant and Dave, who gave us the most remarkable race I’ve ever seen at HRP… I’d like to take a way too early look at potential triple crown threats in 2022!
Way Too Early KYD Rankings for 2022:
Grouse Mountain: 9/2
After an $180 purchase, Harrell Racing cashed in immediately by winning the Tremont. Well conformed and showcasing a 1:11.1 6F work, there is no reason Grouse Mountain shouldn’t be the favorite for the BC Juvi and at the top of the way too early countdown!
Mb Stables brings an Apples to Oranges colt with the right build. Breaking maiden on first out April 10th, it’s obvious Dan is being patient with this Colt, as he hasn’t returned to the track yet. With the right breeding and build, not to mention being in the right stable– I’d add this one to the watch list, cause I’d say he’s in for some big entries coming up.
War Code: 6/1
This colt built to impress has the Wolfmoon Rising pedigree in common with 2021’s TC hopeful, Howl of the Hound. The mare side blends in Cherokee Sunset and that combination earned Serenity Stables a second try winner at Santa Anita Park. The works are sharp and with time and growth, I only see this horse getting better. Plus, he just sort of has that Triple Crown sounding name, doesn’t he? Say it with me, “War Code.”
Orange Chicken: 8/1
The darling of early 2 Y.O. chatter, a son of Aggravation and bred by Arindel, Orange Chicken scored a $91 MSW win at CD on May 6th. Prior to that he was atop the 5F work list and near the top of the 6F work list. Since, he’s logged a 1:38.4 mile time at BEL, proving he can add distance to his stellar style. This one can’t fly under the radar, because he’s been on everyone’s radar since early January 2021. Likely heading to the Bashford Manor at CD later this month, Orange Chicken should be a top contender going forward.
The Godfather: 8/1
Out of hot young sire, Con Artist, comes a router conformed colt by Smokey Stover. Another one the HRP community saw atop the works lists early on. His first race he lost to another on this list in Paco, but didn’t disappoint in his second start, scoring at CD. It’s clear Smokey wanted a quick win to pad EPR with this one before showing patience. I expected him in the Tremont but he was a no show, meaning big races are ahead. He has the pedigree and trainer to make a lot of noise.
D J C Racing Stables touts a 2 for 2 by Que Niagra. He beat The Godfather in first start at Santa Anita Park, then went on to win KY Juvenile against a class of twos who had some hype coming into the race. With his EPR perfect and his conformation and size suggesting he might grow into distance, this horse will be one to watch despite not posting blistering works like others. Still, 1:11.3 6F is no slow poke work and D J C has the experience get to a horse where it needs to be.
Union Mills: 10/1
Patiently waiting until April 23rd for a MSW start, Union Mills didn’t disappoint for Sccj Stables. He crossed first at SA in route to posting a 90 first out speed figure. A special colt that is free of the Charley Farley lines, this one could be the next War Chant? A valuable horse on the track and shed, but first, it’ll have to prove it’s worth in route to the KYD.
Loquacious Luka: 10/1
Loquacious: Talkative. Appropriate name for Night Rider Stables quality colt. Coming up a nose short in the Tremont, this colt shows that added distance is likely going to benefit him. Working 1.11.3 6F, I’m sure Raj is chomping at the bit to get him on at 1 Mile. If I know this trainer at all, then you can expect to see Luka in the biggest races on the trail to the Juvi BC, then the KYD, and he might just have himself something special.
Up In Smoke: 12/1
The breeder of Howl of the Hound comes into the 2 year old season with another Marry Me Mandy foal that looks to threaten the KYD trail. All eyes were on this gelding after winning the DMR Trials and going on to score a first out MSW victory at Santa Anita against elite rival Orange Chicken. The owner moved away from top end competition and into a NM bred stakes, scoring a second win in the Copper Top Futurity. With EPR pumped up and works looking formidable (1.11.2 6F), Up In Smoke is going to have to step up in class for Jive Inc. next out.
Another colt for Smokey Stover, this one out of promising young sire Neon Wolf, a colt with conformation to die for. You love to see it go out and handle MSW first out at Santa Anita. A 58.4 5F work back is March looks wonderful, but we haven’t seen a work since mid April from this one and nothing at the 6F distance. Which leaves us wondering if adding furlongs causes an issue here? Or perhaps Smokey is playing this close to the vest.
Hey Ralphie Boy: 15/1
YME Stable is a well known quality breeder at HRP, he only joined the game in 2003, and remains relevant to this day at the stakes level. So it’d be wise to pay attention when he has a 1:11.2 6F worker fresh off a MSW score at WO. The pedigree screams distance and the confirmation is near perfect. YME isn’t new to the game (He may’ve helped build it actually, lol) and he’ll head into 2022 with a quality KYD prospect.
Crazy Ivan: 15/1
Clocking a 1:11.1 6F work on June 4th, Crazy Ivan has launched himself into the discussion for Acber Farm. Breaking MSW first out on April 5th with a less than stellar 51.4 finishing time at 4.5F, it seems time and added distance has been kind to Ivan. Navigation through high end stakes is likely coming for Crazy Ivan, but Acber has been around since 2004 and should have no issues.
Croton Road: 18/1
A first time winner at CD for $91 MSW, Croton Road surely put a smile on Fractious’s face. Not to mention the speed figure at 94. He has the conformation to go long but it’s the avg-heavy forehand that brings into question longevity. Still, fast is fast, so for now Croton Road is on the radar.
Chai West: 20/1
Alydar Stables is another trainer who has been around since the stone age. Coming into the game in 2004, he’s learned to have an eye for talent, and has done it again with Chai West. A well bred colt that is free of Commanding and Cherokee Sunset, but rich with Charley Farley. This horse won on an off track in a good time and boasts a 1.11.2 6F work in late May. As we’re all aware, the rain can come early May on Derby Day! So keep an eye on Chai West, he seems to like the mud.
Salt Who: 25/1
Our first filly on the list, owned by a trainer known to be aggressive with filly placement. Aer Stables has no fear putting his fillies up against the boys. With the high price tag of $200.77 after a 1.11.2 6F work on May 11th, Aer went on to win the first MSW Salt Who was played in and will likely parlay that into an entry against the boys at some point. He’s proven he can navigate tough fields with fillies which makes this horse one to eye.
Junkyard Dog: 30/1
Jive Inc.’s second prospect comes from another Pink Panther line in Pinkman. Junkyard Dog tallies a 58.3 H 5F work and posted the fastest 5F race time for 2 year olds in 2021, winning a $91 MSW. The question will be whether Junkyard Dog can handle added distance. It’ll be a question of pedigree vs conformation, which wins out more than the other. Time will tell.
Queens Park: 50/1
Our second filly on the list torched WO on May 6th with a 1.11.1 6F work, that came nearly 30 days after winning on her first attempt at Santa Anita. So far, everything is falling into place for this filly to make some noise. The real question will be whether Mo Mentum Farms decides to attack the KYD trail, or stick with a safer Oaks campaign.
Warrior Of Chiefs: 50/1
This Wood Duck Stables horse came home at CD in the second fastest race time of 2021 for two year olds. A speed rating of 90. The mare side leaves a little to be desired but the top is a deep Charley Farley line. The conformation looks good until you find the Avg-heavy forehand at the bottom. The only other knock I have is the lack of showing works. I can’t see a 6F but if you go back to mid march, you’ll see a 58.3 5F work, which indicates talent. So we will watch the development on this one.
A Commanding colt out of a stakes winning mare from the Zero Return bloodline. This colt seems to have the kind of build Mb Stables looks for and certainly has the pedigree. Unable to break maiden in the first two attempts, Languish lost his second out by a head bod to Hey Ralphie Boy. Languish will need a bid win soon or he’ll find him self in EPR purgatory.
Wiggling Road: 99/1
Purchased back in early January 2021 from El Primero Rodeo, this one might is the prime example of why I tell small stables to keep horses and not auction them. Team 7 Illusions got a win on this geldings first try, winning a $7.20 MSW at FON. Which really puts him behind the 8-ball in terms of EPR. Still, the 1.11 6F Flat work is impressive, but perhaps not impressive enough to overcome that EPR. Recently on the PS forum, this horse didn’t go for the right price and Team 7 retains the prospect. We’ll see if Wiggling Road can overcome a tier 2/3 jock when he faces stakes talent next out.