Kentucky Derby Trail: Second of June More Than Just a Name
It is rare to see a young horse born in May this far advanced, never mind June. For example, Second of June is three months younger than Silver Wagon, the Hopeful (gr. I) winner whom he has beaten decisively in his last two starts, the Holy Bull and What a Pleasure Stakes. Make no mistake, three months makes a great deal of difference at this stage of a horse's life.
As an example of what Second of June has to overcome to win the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), of the past 25Derby winners, one was born in January, seven in February, 10 in March, four in April, and three in May. None were born as late as June.
Second of June, who toed out and brought a meager $7,500 at last year's Ocala January mixed sale, not only has overcome his physical flaw and late foaling date, he even managed to win first time out last August, going seven furlongs, and you don't often see a 2-year-old winning his debut at seven furlongs. He has now won his last three starts, all by daylight.
Trainer Bill Cesare, bought the colt because they shared the same birthday. He changed his name from Gaudy to Second of June and raced him under his mother Barbara's name. "Before I even saw the horse I wrote down to buy him," Cesare said. "I was told he was sound, but wouldn't stand training. The fact we had the same birthday, I felt it was fate and decided to buy him anyway. If the guy who owned his half-sister didn't bid against me I would have gotten him even cheaper."
So, is Cesare concerned about the colt's late birthday and how much he's accomplished so early in his 3-year-old campaign? "All I know is that he came out of the Holy Bull better than he went in," Cesare said. "He's a freak of nature. And the best thing is that he's maturing mentally. I hate to think if he continues to mature physically. After we bought him, we sent him to my wife's mother's farm in Davie and brought him to Calder in April. A horse often will work as many as 25 times on the farm and the track before he runs. We only workedhim seven times before he broke his maiden. He was pretty much fit. I never should have run him in that second start (the Seacliff Stakes). He was real bad in the gate that day and I should have schooled him in the gate more. Mentally, he's still a bit immature and he did get hot before the Holy Bull. But he just keeps getting better. It's still a long way to the Kentucky Derby, but I guess you can say I've got the flavor of the month right now."
Second of June, despite sweating up in the paddock, ran a very professional race and had no trouble turning aside the challenge of Silver Wagon, who went off as the 8-5 favorite. Silver Wagon's connections felt their colt was dead-short in the What a Pleasure, and that there was no way Second of June would beat him again. But, this colt just keeps doing things he's not supposed to. What shouldn't be overlooked is that Silver Wagon did finish 10 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher Friends Lake.
By Louis Quatorze, who also sired Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner and Travers (gr. I) runner-up Repent, Second of June is out of the Spectacular Bid mare Whow, who also produced Second of June's three-quarter brother Jack Flash, runner-up in the Jim Beam Stakes (gr. II). Whow is a half-sister to Vanity Handicap (gr. I) winner Afifa, multiple stakes-winning grass horses Alias Smith, and graded stakes-winning English sprinter Auction Ring. Louis Quatorze ran the co-fastest Preakness (gr. I) ever and was beaten a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Despite a sire and grandsire who should have no trouble producing a distance horse, Second of June has a dosage index of 4.33, over the desired number of 4.00, which gives him yet another obstacle to overcome. Anyone care to tell him he can't go 1 1/4 miles? Until he proves otherwise, it looks as if you can throw the book away with this guy.
In the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II), run the same day as the Holy Bull, St Averil showed his runner-up performance to Lion Heart in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) was no fluke. The son of Saint Ballado had to work to put Lucky Pulpit away, but you have to remember this was only the colt's third career start, and he was tracking a very fast pace, with fractions of :45 3/5 and 1:09 4/5. He has plenty of stamina,with names like Hawaii and Diplomat Way, and his great-grandsire, Paavo, is a half-brother to the great international distance horse Exceller. St Averil boasts a 1.53 DI and should only get better as the distances stretch out.
Lucky Pulpit ran an excellent race, pressing the quick fractions, and you certainly have to give another shot to third-place finisher Master David, who raced between horses and didn't find his best stride until it was too late. Trainer Bobby Frankel said he'll likely add blinkers next time out. Master David also was cutting back in distance after finishing second in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (gr. II). Distance will be his game, so just consider this a sharpener for his next likely start in the San Felipe (gr. II). Finishing a head behind Master David was the Bob Baffert-trained Preachinatthebar, who was coming off a two-turn maiden victory. The son of Silver Charm left himself with too much to do and then didn't corner very well turning for home, losing a lot of ground. He closed willingly on the far outside and should improve off this effort.
Despite published reports of a $3 million offer for Laurel Futurity (gr. III) winner Tapit by owner Michael Gill, trainer Michael Dickinson said Wednesday the coltis "not for sale."
Read the Footnotes, winner of the Nashua (gr. III) and Remsen, has been working sharply at Palm Meadows. The son of Smoke Glacken worked a half in :47 on Jan. 16, then followed that up with a 5-furlong breeze in 1:01 2/5 Wednesday morning.
Another colt who has been making great progress in the morning is Odds On, who has recovered from shin problems. The son of Silver Charm, trained by Baffert, worked 5 furlongs in :59 1/5 Wednesday following a 1:00 2/5 drill on Jan. 15, and a :48 breeze on Jan. 9. Also at Santa Anita, Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Action This Day followed up his 7-furlong work in 1:25 3/5 with a :59 4/5 move on Jan. 11. Trainer Dick Mandella skipped the Santa Catalina to point for the nine-furlong Sham Stakes.
Mandella also has Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Minister Eric back on the work tab. The son of Old Trieste breezed 3 furlongs in :37 3/5, then came right back with a half-mile breeze in :48 2/5 on Jan. 20.
Tiger Hunt, winner of the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes and second in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is still several weeks from a work, but is a strong galloper and shouldn't need much to get ready for his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III). Stablemate Shadowland should be the horse to beat in this weekend's Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
One colt back on the work tab at Oaklawn Park is Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) runner-up, Gran Prospect, who breezed a half in :51 1/5 on Jan. 18.