Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Thursday, September 05, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/05/2013 #
  • Whyruawesome (Photo by Michael Adolphson)

In Today’s Notes: Whyruawesome to Answer the Question in Futurity; Catalano Takes Familiar Path with Solitary Ranger

Saturday’s Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity, the centerpiece for juveniles at the Arlington International Racecourse 2013 meet, presents a promising field of nine juveniles with the majority of their careers ahead of them.  One horse who hopes to make that future an awesome one is Windy Hill Farm’s Whyruawesome, a flashy maiden victor in a seven-furlong event on Aug. 16. 

Trained by first-year trainer Anne P. Smith, Whyruawesome closed from 10 lengths behind a lukewarm :23.15 and :47.86 pace before barreling down the stretch greenly – nearly ducking into the inside rail and running up on the heels of subsequent runner-up (and favorite) Category – to win by a deceptively undemanding half-length. 

“First time out, I was confident.  I bet on him before the race, but you never know with 2-year-olds,” explained Smith. “But, then he ran well, so I’m happy.” 

The betting public was even more dubious, as they let the colt go off at odds of 17-1.  He will not be as overlooked on Saturday with a 4-1 morning line, but his trainer is excited for the challenge.  “I’m looking forward to it, definitely.  He’s training very well and getting stronger every day.  I’ve been working on his strength,” Smith reported.

The son of Grade I-winning juvenile Whywhywhy has not always seemed so precocious for Smith.  Such has been a recent development that happened to occur at the opportune moment.  “We had plenty of works in him before he ran – lots of slow works.  Then one day in company he decided ‘I got it!’ and all of a sudden drew off.  It was a surprise because he wasn’t like that for a while – he wasn’t the dominant (horse) at all,” explained a pleased Smith. 

The conditioner also warned that his green race was not indicative of the gelding being a nervous type.  Apparently, the colt was simply looking around while shifting paths.  “He’s not skittish, but he’ll walk looking to the side for the while and he did that the other day (at the crowd).  He just likes to look around.  He’s not a silly horse.”

Smith is also confident that the chestnut son of Awesome Again mare Awesome Frances will have no problem negotiating the additional real estate.  “He feels like he can handle two turns,” she stated.  Such inclination is corroborated by the fact that despite being by a sprinting stallion, his damside includes such stamina influences as Caro, Sky Classic and the aforementioned Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning Awesome Again. 

The trainer also mentioned that stable star Nates Mineshaft is back in good health after a minor hind-end setback suffered in the Arlington Million.  “Nate is back to normal.  I feel better about him, now,” said Smith. 

“He’ll most likely stay here for the Illinois Owners’ Stakes.  Hopefully it’ll stay on the grass and not go to a one-turn mile (on the main track),” Smith elaborated.  In May, in the multiple graded stakes winner’s first race for Smith, he faired very poorly in the one-turn mile of the Grade III Hanshin Cup.  “We also considered the (Grade I) Shadwell Mile, but I don’t think he’s proven himself on the grass well enough to do that.”

Two-time Arlington-Washington Futurity-winning trainer Wayne Catalano brings an interesting prospect into the 2013 renewal in William D. Pate and Marshall E. Dowell’s Solitary Ranger.  A son of freshman U S Ranger, one of the last sons to go to stud for super sire Danzig, Solitary Ranger will be greatly supported because of his connections, but has never won in two starts, has not started since April 26 and has yet to race beyond 4½ furlongs. 

Still, Catalano is very confident in the colt.  “He’s coming up great.  We’ve won with a maiden in that race before, so we’re going to try to do it again,” recollected the conditioner.  “Major Gain broke his maiden in that same race, so we’re going to try and do it once more.”

Unlike Gary and Mary West’s Major Gain, who had a race over the course four weeks prior to his victory, Solitary Ranger will have to overcome a much longer break – 19 weeks – and run on a track upon which he has never raced.  What the colt does have going for him is his back-class is superior to his predecessor. 

In his last race, a Keeneland maiden, he chased home subsequent Group I winner (in France) No Nay Never to only lose by two lengths.  No Nay Never is currently one of the highest rated juveniles for trainer Wesley Ward.  In his debut, 19 days prior, Solitary Ranger ran into another tough Ward charge in the highly regarded Pablo Del Monte and was second to him as well.

Also to Solitary Ranger’s favor will be a series of impressive works over the local surface, including two consecutive bullet works at five furlongs.  The dark bay colt also has the addition of one of the leading riders at the meet, Florent Geroux, who currently strikes at a 28% clip when teamed with Catalano.