Futurity Draws New York’s Top Juveniles



The Futurity Stakes (GI) — sometimes referred to as the Belmont Futurity — was at one time, in the late 1800s, the richest race in North America. Up until 1957, horses were eligible to run after their connections made payment while they were still in utero, and after bouncing around from Sheepshead Bay Racetrack to Belmont and then to Aqueduct, it’s been a staple on the fall racing calendar at the Elmont, New York, oval since 1968.

Many good horses have won the Futurity, including Triple Crown winners Citation, Secretariat and Affirmed. Some other notables include Tom Fool, Native Dancer, Never Bend, Riva Ridge, Swale and Holy Bull.

This year, six will line up in the one-mile event and all have hopes to make the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park, as the race is the final event for 2-year-olds whose connections hope will make the gate for Racing’s Championship Day. Carded as the 8th, the race is set to go off at 4:13 p.m. ET.

New York-bred Snydergaard makes his first foray into open company, but judging by his last win by 10 lengths in the restricted Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga in late August, the son of Majesticperfection should have little trouble handling his competition in here. Todd Pletcher, looking for his third win in the race, trains the chestnut colt and will leg up John Velazquez, who himself will be looking for his sixth Futurity win. Snydergaard will no doubt be gunning for the lead from the break and will be very tough for his competition to run down.

Practical Joke, who quite possibly carries the most clever name in racing today (by Into Mischief — Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor) rides a two-race win streak, including the Hopeful Stakes (GI) last out. The Chad Brown trainee has never done a thing wrong either in the mornings or afternoons and is one of the bunch who likes to sit off the pace and wait for the speed to back up. The rail isn’t an ideal draw in the one-turn mile, but, because of his running style, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If he can avoid getting trapped on the rail under jockey Joel Rosario, getting to the wire in front for the sole Grade I winner in the field is a good bet.

Favorable Outcome is the other runner trainer Chad Brown will tighten the girth on and the Kentucky-bred son of Flatter will make his first start against winners after breaking his maiden by six lengths at Saratoga back in August. His best asset for this race, aside from talent and connections, is that he looks to be a mid-pack runner who will get a lot of speed to run at. Javier Castellano returns to ride and the pair drew the five post, which is good considering most of the speed will be to their inside. He’s training well and a top effort puts him right in the hunt.

Big Gray Rocket ships in from California off a nice 6 ¾-length maiden win at Del Mar. The Futurity may be the one big juvenile race Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has yet to win, so he sends in one of his big guns. The son of Tapit and the Grade I-winning Game Plan mare Mistical Plan has been training spectacularly at his home base of Santa Anita since he broke his maiden five weeks ago and is another who will appreciate a quick pace in front of him. Mike Smith, who won this race aboard the great Holy Bull in 1993, makes the cross-country trip for the mount and the pair deserve an extra-long look before heading to the windows.

It isn’t very often you get a Todd Pletcher-trained maiden winner at 12-1 on the morning line in a juvenile stakes, but Thirst For Victory is one. He broke his maiden despite trouble and while his numbers didn’t set any records, he did have some trouble so, with a clean trip, we can probably expect some improvement.

Lookin at Blessing will be part of the pace for sure and if he runs back to his last, where he broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths, he’ll be right in the thick of things at the wire.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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