As the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company conducts its March Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training on Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s time to check up on the top sellers from 2017 OBS March.
Sale-topping filly Diamondsandpearls, who went to Kerri Radcliffe (then acting as agent for Phoenix Thoroughbred) for $1.7 million, was a flashy prospect last summer for Bob Baffert. The daughter of Congrats and Azalea Belle romped in her July 2 debut at Santa Anita, but ran well below that level when a poor fourth in the Sorrento (G2). Exiting that race with an injury, Diamondsandpearls was subsequently exported to Great Britain. According to an early January report by Chris McGrath in Thoroughbred Daily News, plans call for her to get back into shape in her Newmarket home before being repatriated to continue her U.S. career.
The $1.25 million Orb-Remember colt Explorer has yet to race for Baffert, but the Triple Crown nominee has been working regularly at Los Alamitos. His past two moves have been five-furlong bullets, the last in :59.80 March 7. From the Phipps family of Heavenly Prize, he had been a consistent presence on the worktab in July and August, only to disappear until resuming in January. The Solis/Litt Bloodstock purchase is owned by the Roth family’s LNJ Foxwoods and NK Racing.
Beyond Ambition, a $1.1 million daughter of Tapit, has been unplaced in both of her starts for Larry Best’s OXO Equine. The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil was a distant fourth in her unveiling at Los Alamitos July 15, and last of nine when resurfacing January 28 at Santa Anita. As of this writing, she hasn’t worked back since. But Beyond Ambition has plenty of residual value as a broodmare prospect. Her dam, Arienza, is the Grade 2-placed daughter of Giant’s Causeway and Azeri.
OXO’s $1.05 million Arch colt has turned out a lot better. You know him as Instilled Regard, who’s made noise as a major Kentucky Derby (G1) contender. A winner third time out for Hollendorfer, but in his first route attempt, Instilled Regard next hung tough between McKinzie and Solomini in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1). He shipped to Fair Grounds to capture the Lecomte (G3) in style, but regressed in his ensuing visit to New Orleans and wound up fourth in the Risen Star (G2). Instilled Regard is reportedly working toward the April 7 Santa Anita Derby (G1) (but the March 24 Louisiana Derby [G2] is still possible), most recently firing a bullet :59.20 for five-eighths at Santa Anita March 7. He’s from the same family as the aforementioned Explorer, the difference being that Instilled Regard is actually descended from Heavenly Prize herself (out of her daughter Enhancing).
The $1 million Pioneerof the Nile-Heavenly Vision colt named Ruler of the Nile, a three-quarter brother to Cairo Prince, just rolled by 7 1/4 lengths in his debut Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Robert and Lawana Low, he was an intended starter at Gulfstream Park February 24, but got loose behind the gate and had to be scratched. Interestingly, given his pedigree and connections, Ruler of the Nile was not made eligible for the Triple Crown by the early deadline. Aside from the relationship to Cairo Prince, Ruler of the Nile is also closely related to the dam of Outwork, Pletcher’s 2016 Wood Memorial (G1) winner.
Triple Crown nominee Ironwood, a son of Curlin and Storm Hearted who sold to Rattler Racing for $950,000, coincidentally debuted in that same Tampa race and wound up sixth behind Ruler of the Nile. Since Ironwood hadn’t worked since February 9 at Gulfstream Park, I wouldn’t have expected him to turn up in the entries a month later. And Ironwood, who was an also-eligible at Turfway Park (?) March 2, was actually a vet scratch from a March 3 maiden at Tampa. He’s only the fifth starter for trainer Abraham Gardea. Curiously, Ironwood’s trainer was listed as Tom Morley on the Triple Crown nominations list.
Souper Scat Daddy, a $950,000 purchase by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation (as if the “Souper” name didn’t give it away), has not recorded an official breeze since November 2 at Churchill Downs. Trainer Mark Casse had high hopes when he spoke with Steve Sherack of Thoroughbred Daily News last July: “That colt has shown huge potential.” The Scat Daddy-West Side Dancer colt is a half-brother to Grade 2 winners Discreet Dancer and Travelin Man, from the family of Aidan O’Brien celebrities Duke of Marmalade and Ruler of the World, and thus the tribe of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, and Lemon Drop Kid.
Triple Crown nominee Pitino, a $950,000 colt by Union Rags and out of Alexandra Rylee, was gaveled down to trainer Doug O’Neill’s brother Dennis. He has raced just once, checking in sixth at Del Mar November 11. The Zedan Racing Stables runner was back on the worktab at Santa Anita this winter, but his last move came on February 12.
The Medaglia d’Oro colt Apostle brought $900,000 from trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. as agent for Karl and Cathi Glassman, and the blueblood has shaped with promise in his two starts at Gulfstream Park. After a tiring fifth in his seven-furlong unveiling on January 6, he was a fast-closing third to He Takes Charge over 1 1/16 miles on February 10. Yet to resume working as of this writing, Apostle bears watching as a half-brother to Grade 3-winning millionaire Carve; Sloane Avenue, unlucky not to be a Group winner after just missing to Tamarkuz from the horror post 15 in the 2015 Godolphin Mile (G2); and ill-fated Apropos, a Grade 1-placed stakes victress. Their dam, Apt, is herself a half-sister to champion Blame.
Also commanding $900,000 was the Union Rags-Delightfully So colt Navistar, a Pletcher Triple Crown nominee who went into many notebooks as the runner-up to Mask in their mutual debut October 20 at Belmont Park. The Robert LaPenta colorbearer came right back to break his maiden (over He Takes Charge) at Gulfstream December 16. Entered in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, he ended up scratching thanks to travel problems. Navistar was rerouted to a February 4 allowance at Gulfstream, where he lost all chance after veering out badly on the far turn. Hall of Famer John Velazquez wisely eased him. Concerns were assuaged when Navistar walked off the track, and racing manager John Panagot tweeted that the colt appeared “OK and jogged sound on the asphalt back at the barn after a head-scratcher for us.” Back on the Palm Beach Downs worktab February 24, he’s been a regular every Saturday morning since.