The final thoroughbred meet of the racing season at Los Alamitos Race Course features the last major graded stakes race for juveniles this year with the running of Saturday’s CashCall Futurity. Horse racing bettors will get one final glimpse at a few up-and-coming 2-year-olds.
The winner of this race is sure to move up in the rankings as one of the early 3-year olds to watch for the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail. While the final field for Saturday's main event has yet to be set, I have singled out a trio of 2-year old probables to wheel together in a trifecta play.
2016 CashCall Futurity Stakes
The CashCall Futurity is a Grade 1 stakes race open to 2-year old thoroughbreds. It will be contested on the dirt track at Los Alamitos over a distance of 1 1/16 miles and the total guaranteed prize purse has been set at $300,000.
Famed trainer Bob Baffert is expected to have two entries in this race, and I see both of them finishing in the money starting with Mastery (pictured) as my top choice. This 2-year old Kentucky-bred colt has proven himself to be a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender with a recent victory in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar over a distance of seven furlongs Nov. 19. This followed a victory in a Maiden Special Weight race at Santa Anita on Oct. 22 in his only two races as a juvenile.
A pedigree of Candy Ride, Mastery is already ranked by Horse Racing Nation at No. 254 and he should boast the highest HRN rating in the field at 7.71.
My second choice for Saturday would be trainer Doug O'Neill's Dangerfield. This Kentucky-bred colt has been busy as a 2-year old with five previous races on his early resume. Following just one finish in the money at Del Mar in three previous MSW races this summer, he started to get into gear with a first-place run in the non-graded Oak Tree Juvenile Stakes at Pleasanton on Oct. 1 over a distance of 1 mile 70 yards. O'Neill extended the distance a bit in his first graded event Nov. 19, and the colt responded with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Dangerfield has earned a solid HRN rating of 6.87 for his early efforts as a pedigree of Into Mischief. This race is a chance to prove that he deserves to be in the conversation when it comes to Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
Baffert's other probable entry into Saturday's race is Hot Sean, who is coming off a very promising second-place finish in last month's Delta Downs Jackpot. He has an HRN rating of 5.47, which could be a bit low in my book given his latest run. This Kentucky-bred colt started his racing career by taking second in a MSW race at Del Mar on Aug. 28 at a distance of 5½ furlongs. A pedigree of Flatter with a progeny that can be traced all the way back to Seattle Slew, it was very encouraging to see him handle the added distance his last time out.
Another colt to watch in this race would be Bobby Abu Dhabi with a HRN rating of 6.12. Trained by Peter Miller, this is one more Kentucky-bred 2-year old trying to make a name for himself in what will be his first career start.