Follow these 5 to start 2022
Photo: Joe Labozzetta / NYRA
In this bi-weekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicap watchlist, reviews runners who have recently caught his eye, and provides insight into which horses are expected to return in the near future.
New to the Watchlist
Aqueduct played nice to the speed horses last week, but no one told Untreaty that. Nyquist’s son on Friday shrugged off a rough start to the rally and beat race leader Pioneer Spirit in an optional one-mile allowance, winning three-quarters length in a quick time of 1. : 36.49 seconds.
Another winner by Nyquist @DarleyStallions
– TVG (@TVG) December 31, 2021
The triumph marked Untreated’s second consecutive allowance score since returning from a 7-1 / 2-month layoff. Todd Pletcher’s trainee turned 4 on Saturday and has the potential to grow into an accomplished older horse. Remember, Pletcher thought enough about Untreated to throw him into the Blue Grass (G2) on the Kentucky Derby Road.
Sold for $ 475,000 as a yearling, Wharton recouped some of his hefty purchase price when he claimed the win in his Santa Anita debut on Friday. And if its impressive performance is any indication, Wharton could recoup the rest of its price soon.
From start to finish, Wharton ran very well in the 6 1/2 stadium maiden special weight. After covering an opening quarter mile in 22.11 seconds, Wharton took the lead and cleared to score 5 1/4 lengths in 1: 17.52 seconds on a good track.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Wharton was ridden to victory by John Velazquez and looks like a promising colt. I can’t wait to see what he can accomplish in the future.
Recent Watchlist Winners
The accomplished sprinter kicked off her 2022 campaign with a clear victory Sunday at Kalookan Queen in Santa Anita. Sprinting forward in split times of 22.15 and 44.96 seconds, Edgeway got off to a good start down the home stretch to beat ranked winner Merneith by 1 3/4 lengths, stopping the clock at 6 1/2 stages in a solid 1: 16.85. Another solid season should be on the horizon for Edgeway, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint to wrap up 2021.
Bob Baffert’s trainee took his record to 2 for 2 with a resounding victory in the one-mile Sham (G3) race at Santa Anita. Violence’s son by no means had a rough journey, running up front through modest fractions of 24.46, 48.95 and 1: 12.84. But he was also clearly the best on the home stretch, passing teammate Rockefeller to win by 2 3/4 length in 1: 38.32. It is becoming a very beautiful prospect.
Worth another try
I have thunder
Although Got Thunder finished behind Wharton in the second run of Friday’s first heat at Santa Anita, I won’t judge his efforts too harshly. Granted, Got Thunder was beaten 5 1/4 lengths while favored at 7-10. But Arrogate’s son is being bred to run for a long time and improve with maturity, so there’s a chance Got Thunder could still be of use to trainer John Sadler.
Off the watch list
On his first start after a 13-and-a-half-month layoff, Full Impact failed to shoot in an optional Sunday allowance claimant while sprinting six stadiums at Oaklawn Park. The previously undefeated 5-year-old gave way to the corner to finish last, so I want to see Full Impact show more sparks next time around before I put him back on my watch list.
Here is my complete and up-to-date list of horses to watch out for.