Saturday's Insights: Expensive Sophomores Kick Off Careers at Fair Grounds

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Run Classic at OBS last year | ThoroStride

Sponsored by Alex Nichols Agency

4th-FG, $50K, Msw, 3yo, 6f, post time: 2.29 p.m. ET

A number of freshly minted sophomores who were pricey sales horses kick off their careers in this six-panel maiden, led by Tom Durant's RUN CLASSIC (Runhappy), a $475,000 OBS purchase  (:20 3/5) and the highest-priced juvenile to sell by his sire. Trainer Bret Calhoun sends him to post, where he will have to face former $650,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling Constituency (Candy Ride {Arg}). The CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm runner, who is conditioned by Dallas Stewart, is out of stakes-placed Zermatt (Tiznow) from the family of Breeders' Cup champ and MGISW Rushing Fall (More Than Ready). They'll both have to get by Susan Moulton's Gunner Paul (Exaggerator), a $150,000 OBS buy (:10 2/5), whose year older half-sister, Merneith (American Pharoah), ended 2020 with a listed stakes win at Keeneland on Breeders' Cup Saturday before a third in the GI La Brea S. at Santa Anita. Gunner Paul hails from the barn of Wayne Catalano. On the also-eligible list is OXO Equine's Koolhaus (Nyquist), a $600,000 Keeneland November weanling whose dam is a half-sister to champion Lady Eli (Divine Park) and MGSW Bizzy Caroline (Afleet Alex). He's one of two Brad Cox entrants in the field. TJCIS PPs

OSCAR PERFORMANCE HALF-BROTHER DEBUTS

4th-GP, $50K, Msw, 3yo, 1mT, post time: 1:10 p.m. ET

PERFORMING ARTS (Dansili {GB}), a half-brother to four-time Grade I winner and promising young sire Oscar Performance (Kitten's Joy), makes his debut for trainer Brian Lynch. The Amerman homebred is also a half to millionaire Oscar Nominated (Kitten's Joy). Jose Ortiz is booked to ride. Courageously (Quality Road), a $625,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by John Oxley, showed speed and reported home third behind impressive next out Dania Beach S. hero Kentucky Pharoah (American Pharoah) in his debut over course and distance Dec. 19. Trainer Mark Casse adds Lasix this time. Alexander Valley (Medaglia d'Oro), the second-most expensive horse to switch hands when bringing $2.15 million from Godolphin at the 2019 KEESEP sale, switches to grass following a well-beaten sixth on debut for Bill Mott Dec. 12. He is the first foal out of GISW Tara's Tango (Unbridled's Song). TJCIS PPs

SOPHOMORES SLUG IT OUT IN TWO-TURN ALLOWANCE

8th-Fair Grounds, $55K, Alw/Opt. Clm., 3yo, 1 1/16m, post time: 4:25 ET

About 2 1/2 hours prior to the running of the GIII Lecomte S., a field of 10 3-year-olds take in this allowance test that could toss up a starter or two for races like the GII Risen Star S. and GII Louisiana Derby over the next couple of months. MANOR HOUSE (Upstart) was one of two in the field whose connections toyed with the idea of the Lecomte before setting for this obviously softer spot. The Florida-bred has one previous start to his credit, a 12 1/4-length, gate-to-wire romp going Laurel's one-turn mile Dec. 12, good for a 76 Beyer Speed Figure. The Newtown Anner colorbearer looks to have held his form with a pair of strong local breezes on display. Angkor (Anchor Down) was a well-backed graduate first time out, scoring by four lengths at Churchill Nov. 1, and got valuable two-turn experience when missing by a dirty nostril in Louisville Nov. 22. Gagetown (Exaggerator), a two-length debut winner sprinting at Churchill in November, stretches out off a solid runner-up effort behind the talented Quick Tempo (Tapizar) in the Dec. 19 Sugar Bowl S., while Beep Beep (Tapizar), who was also cross-entered in the Lecomte, tries a distance of ground, having raced away to a 3 1/2-length victory on his seven-furlong Churchill debut Nov. 29. TJCIS PPs

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