Friday, August 3, 2012

Juvenile Spotlight: Top Tier Lass and Corail

Todd Pletcher is often crowned the king of two-year-olds at Saratoga. This was further confirmed on both Monday and Wednesday, when two of his juvenile fillies broke their maidens in impressive style: Top Tier Lass and Corail. Both fillies traveled five and one-half furlongs – though over different surfaces – at the Spa, joining many two-year-olds trained by Todd Pletcher to break their maiden at Saratoga in impressive style.

Top Tier Lass

Following a clean break, Top Tier Lass was among a four-horse group that immediately went to the lead. Racing on the outside, the chestnut filly remained among the cluster of the leaders but did not take the lead until shortly after they set an initial quarter of 22 seconds flat. She continued to draw away from there, holding a one-length advantage at the top of the stretch.

Despite rallies from others, Top Tier Lass was not threatened by her rivals as John Velazquez urged her down the stretch. Though she received several reminders from Velazquez, Top Tier Lass had no trouble crossing the wire seven lengths in front. The final time over the grass course labeled good was 1:03.34.

Top Tier Lass is a member of Street Boss’s first crop. On the track, Street Boss – a horse based in Southern California – was a spectacular sprinter, winning three graded stakes – three of which were grade ones – and setting two six-furlong track records. Street Boss is of course a son of Street Cry, a top sire known for producing the great champion Zenyatta, as well as the champion Street Sense and eleven other grade one winners. Street Boss has already proven to be a productive sire in his young career, having already sired not only multiple winners, but a stakes winner.

This filly’s dam, Top Tier, is a half-sister to not only two black-type winners and a stakes-placed runner, but the multiple graded stakes-placed Stopshoppingmaria. In addition to producing Top Tier Lass, Top Tier is the dam of the winners Personal Signal and Show Place. Neither of those horses has won beyond a mile and one-sixteenth.

Top Tier’s broodmare sire is King of Kings, an Irish champion who won the first leg of the English Triple Crown, the 2,000 Guineas (GI), at one mile. King of Kings is a son of the great Sadlers Wells, one of the greatest stallions the industry has ever seen. Sadlers Wells is the damsire of such horses as the group one winners Conduit, Henrythenavigator, Reliable Man, Workforce, and Youmzain.

Top Tier Lass certainly is bred like a speedy turf horse, but could also have a future on surfaces other than grass. Of course, she could go farther than five and a half furlongs, but she definitely is not a classic-distance type of filly. However, this filly displayed in her debut that she is clearly talented and one to keep an eye on.


Two years ago, a juvenile Thoroughbred sired by Indian Charlie and trained by Pletcher dominated a maiden at Saratoga prior to finishing a two-year-old campaign that saw him be honored as Champion Two-Year-Old Male. That horse was Uncle Mo. On Wednesday, yet another Todd Pletcher-trained Indian Charlie broke it's maiden. This time, however, it was a filly by the name of Corail.

After breaking from the gate, the bay filly went straight to the lead in Wertheimer and Frere's silks 
– the same silks Goldikova carried to Breeders' Cup Mile (GI) victory three years in a row. She steadily lengthened her lead, holding a one-length advantage as the fillies began to enter the far turn. Following a quarter in 23.16, John Velazquez looked behind him to check the advancement of the others, but found that no one was yet posing a real threat. 

Velazquez began to shake his reins as the curve ended, urging the filly beneath him. Liquid Lunch attempted to rally, but with a strike of the whip, Corail accelerated and began to draw away from the field as Velazquez continued to give her reminders. With ease, Corail flashed under the wire 3 
½ lengths in front, posting a final time of 1:04.52.

Indian Charlie, who was sadly euthanized in December, is also the sire of the champions Fleet Indian and Indian Blessing, as well as such grade one winners as Liaison and Pampered Princess. Indian Charlie has primarily been a sire of speedy horses, but Fleet Indian was capable of winning at ten furlongs.

Corail's dam, Meteor Miracle, is a black-type-winning half-sister to the grade one winners A Phenomenon and Seattle Meteor. In addition to producing Corail, Meteor Miracle has yielded Meteore, who won the La Jolla Handicap (GII) over Del Mar's turf course in 2009. Meteor Miracle is a daughter of Forty Niner's graded stakes-winning son Twining. Forty Niner was a successful broodmare sire himself, having sired the dams of such grade one winners as Albertus Maximus, Island Sand, and Lady of Venice.

Interestingly, Corail's third dam, Patelin, is Kentucky Derby (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) victor I'll Have Another's fifth dam. Patelin, a stakes-winning daughter of the Reine De Course mare Pontivy, was a half-sister to the multiple stakes-winning horses Jaikyl and Pontiflex, as well as the graded stakes-placed Pontoise. Other direct descendants of Patelin include the grade/group one winners Class Play and Reenact.

Though there are traces of stamina in Corail's pedigree, she, like stablemate Top Tier Lass, appears to be more suited for distances under nine furlongs. She is among many talented two-year-olds in Pletchers barn and will need to prove that she can be competitive against tougher company, but she is without a doubt a gifted filly.

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