Friday, February 10, 2012

Derby Hopeful: Creative Cause

In 2011, I posted “Juvenile Spotlights” about two-year-olds I had followed since early on in their careers. Now that it’s 2012, everyone’s focus is on the Kentucky Derby. Some horses from past Juvenile Spotlights will be featured, as well as additional horses on the Derby trail.

In the perfect San Diego weather, a stunning gray colt flashed across the synthetic track at Del Mar. TVG analysts had been raving about the juvenile all day long and I found myself eager to catch sight of him for the first time, though it would only be on a television screen. Nonetheless, his effortless strides impressed me as he swept to victory in his graded stakes debut. Creative Cause had just won the Best Pal Stakes (GII).

The gray two-year-old had only made one prior start, a five-furlong maiden special weight over Hollywood Park's all-weather surface. He'd galloped his way to a 4 3/4-length triumph in a final time of 56.90 seconds. Needless to say, he garnered the attention of many with that win and even more when he crossed the wire successfully next out in the Best Pal.

Creative Cause
Photo: Terri Cage

A month later, trainer Mike Harrington ran the colt in the Del Mar Futurity (GI). Creative Cause emerged from the starting gate as if he had been shot out of a cannon before settling off the leaders. His rally in the stretch was not as breathtaking as it had been in his previous two starts, but he still appeared to be in contention in mid-stretch. However, he was squeezed by Majestic City and Drill just before the wire and crossed the finish line in third before being bumped up into second.

He returned to his winning ways in the Norfolk Stakes (GI) in his following start, in which he made his dirt debut. After breaking cleanly from the gate, the gray colt found a stalking position in second for the majority of the race before pouncing to the lead near the end of the far turn. He continued to advance from there, striding along to a 3 1/4-length score.

Creative Cause competed against the best juveniles in the world on dirt in his subsequent race, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI). As usual, the Mike Harrington trainee settled off the pace before making his move on the far turn. Forgotten by many due to the thrilling battle between Union Rags and eventual winner Hansen, Creative Cause ran a game third, beaten just over a length.

It is clear that Creative Cause has racing talent, but his aptitude does not come to a halt there. He is also bred for success and to go the distance.

His sire, Giant's Causeway, was the 2000 European Horse of the Year and has since found himself in the top ten on the leading sires list seven times, topping the list twice. He, a horse that won at ten furlongs multiple times himself, is capable of producing routers. For instance, he is the sire of Giant Oak - winner of the Clark Handicap (GI, 9F) and Donn Handicap (GI, 9F), runner-up in the Washington Park Handicap (GIII, 9.5F) and Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII, 10F), and third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (GII, 14F). He has also produced Swift Temper, winner of the Delaware Handicap (GII, 10F), and Heatseeker, winner of Santa Anita Handicap (GI, 10F).

The dam of Creative Cause, Dream of Summer, was a very prosperous racehorse in her own right. She at one time won five races in a row, including the A Gleam Invitational Handicap (GII, 7F), the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (GIII, 6.5F), and the California Cup Matron Handicap (8.5F). Though that winning streak ended, Dream of Summer went on to win the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI, 8.5F) over champion Ashado, the Gardenia Handicap (GIII, 8F), and the California Cup Matron Handicap for the second year in a row.

Creative Cause hails from female family one, which is one of the most prolific families there is. This family has produced fourteen victors of the Run for the Roses, which ranks it second behind female family four in the number of Derby winners per family.

One major aspect other than track performances and pedigree that is important in the analysis of a Kentucky Derby contender is the conformation of the prospect. Creative Cause is not lacking in that department, either. Tying in well to his shoulder is his slender gray neck. His shoulder is long and sloping, causing him to be evenly balanced and to therefore possess a topline that is shorter in correlation to his underline. His impressive stride is aided by his long, powerful hip, which allows him to drive more from the hindquarters. He has long, quality muscling and stands on a straight, correct column of bone. Though he does not have perfect conformation, he definitely has the build of an athlete.

As one of the top juveniles of 2011, Creative Cause is already considered one of the top sophomores of 2012, though he will not start until February 19, when he makes his three-year-old debut in the San Vicente Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita. As long as Creative Cause can continue to build on his already impressive race record, there is no reason why he should not be considered one of the top contenders for Kentucky Derby 138.

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