Sunday’s Stars of Tomorrow I card on opening day at Churchill Downs featured a pair of two-year-old stakes winners who impressed in different ways: the filly Finite romped in stakes-record time in the $122,097 Rags to Riches S., while the unbeaten colt South Bend kept his poise in traffic in the $123,664 Street Sense S.
Finite, the 5-2 second choice, was employing the turf-to-dirt angle after her 4 1/4-length maiden score at Kentucky Downs. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for her breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds, Thomas J. Reiman, William Dickson, and Deborah A. Easter, the chestnut attended the pace set by even-money favorite Specially through fractions of :22.87, :45.78, and 1:10.37.
By that point, Finite was drawing alongside, and she dashed right away upon straightening into the stretch. Widening her advantage to six lengths, she reeled off the mile in 1:35.53 to erase champion Monomoy Girl’s stakes record of 1:36.29 from 2017.
Runner-up Lady Glamour, who stalked in third in the middle stages of the race, was herself six lengths clear of Gone Glimmering in third. Specially retreated to last, and assistant trainer David Carroll surmised it was a case of wheeling back on three weeks’ rest from a big debut victory.
Finite was trying a mile for the first time. She had placed second in her first two starts on the Saratoga dirt, chasing Sweet Kisses on July 19 and Mrs. Danvers on August 18.
“She relaxed so comfortable for me today after breaking so well,” winning rider Ricardo Santana Jr. said. “I got her in the perfect spot and she responded every step of the way to the finish. She’s a very nice filly and I think she can go longer.”
Asmussen mentioned the next logical step is Stars of Tomorrow II on November 30, specifically the Golden Rod (G2), a scoring race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
“She definitely passed the test today stretching out in distance,” the trainer said. “She’s a very quality filly and had a nice win at Kentucky Downs coming into this race. The Golden Rod is definitely the right race for her after this type of performance so it was encouraging to see her stretch out.”
Finite is a Munnings half-sister to multiple stakes scorer Reride, third in the 2018 UAE Derby (G2). They are out of the multiple stakes-winning Tapit mare Remit, who is a full sister to multiple Grade 2 hero and millionaire Tapiture, Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Retap, and current Super Derby (G3) victor Rotation.
In the Street Sense, 7-5 favorite South Bend came within an ace of a stakes record himself, clocking 1:35.56 to miss McCraken’s 2016 mark of 1:35.55. The Sagamore Farm colorbearer is now a perfect three-for-three for trainer Stan Hough.
Under regular rider Julien Leparoux, South Bend took up a ground-saving stalking spot behind front-running Silver Prospector through splits of :22.86, :46.24, and 1:10.57. But he got shuffled back rounding the far turn with nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, American Butterfly briefly headed Silver Prospector, who fought back to reclaim the lead. When American Butterfly couldn’t hold his position in the stretch, a gap opened, and South Bend eventually forged his way through to prevail by a length.
Fighting Seabee rallied on the outside to grab second by a half-length from Silver Prospector. Shotski, in the hunt for a while, wound up fourth, and American Butterfly faded to fifth of 10.
South Bend broke his maiden by a nose in a six-furlong maiden at Churchill on September 14 and prevailed by a neck in an October 5 Keeneland allowance at about seven furlongs. Leparoux commented that the colt is learning as he goes.
“I think he’s still figuring everything out at this stage,” his rider said, “and to be this talented is very exciting. When he got an open spot late in the stretch he finally realized he needed to start running fast again to get through and he got up to win.”
Like Finite, South Bend is bound for Stars of Tomorrow II, when he’ll stretch out in search of Kentucky Derby points in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
“It’s always nice to have a horse show this much talent early in his career,” Hough said. “He hasn’t shown me anything yet that he can’t stretch out around two turns so the Kentucky Jockey Club at the end of the meet would make sense.”
By Algorithms and out of multiple Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Sandra’s Rose, South Bend is a half-brother to multiple Canadian stakes victor He’s the Reason. This is the family of Grade 1 heroines Fault and Bast, a top contender in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Because his sire is by Bernardini and his dam is by Old Trieste, South Bend is inbred 3×3 to Hall of Famer A.P. Indy.