Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jaeger first to defend his own honor

A $350,000 sales colt is the 5/2 favorite on the morning line for a maiden special weight race at Delaware Park Saturday, the first of a handful of horses whose prices I took a stand against this year to step up to the gate and try to make me eat my words.

Jaeger certainly has all the advantages a horse could ask. Pedigree? He's by $70,000 per mating, sire of champions Indian Charlie out of The Church Lady, a Valid Wager mare who has produced two stakes horses by Doneraile Court: SHEYENNE GIRL and Codio. His second dam was a stakes-placer and stakes-producer; his third dam bore six stakes horses, two of them blacktype winners. Successful operators Padua Stables clunked down major coin to buy Hip 123 at Keeneland's April sale, and turned him over to arguably the best trainer in America, Todd Pletcher, who has named an excellent jockey in Fernando Jara to ride.

What's not to like?

Well, not much, really, except the price vs. the expectations. And that's what I detailed on my blog after that Keeneland sale.

While there is black type on the page, not only is none of it graded, it really hasn't even occurred outside of restricted company. His stakes siblings performed at Northlands Park and Hastings Park in Canada -- certainly better than not performing anywhere, but hardly the equivalent of winning a highly competitive stakes race at Woodbine, Canada's premier track.

Jaeger's dam was unraced, which always leaves me wondering why -- is it some conformational fault or other deficiency she might have passed along to the foal? While stakes-placed Codio ran 21 times and earned $148,035, stakes winning Sheyenne Girl made four starts at 2 last year, collected $42,545, but hasn't seen a track again through nine and a half months of 2010; that's suspicious. And bear in mind Indian Charlie only raced five times himself, though his progeny are averaging about 13.7 starts for their careers, which is average durability.

Sound or not, Jaeger's four older siblings to race -- all multiple winners and two stakes horses, mind you, useful racehorses -- combined haven't quite earned $300,000; less than what was paid for this one horse.

Still, I understand that despite being unraced, The Church Lady has produced four winning racehorses, and that's to her credit. As stated when panning this price as among the "surreal" from KEEAPR, I conceded that this one has every chance to be a good racehorse, too. But it will take better than "good" to earn back $350,000.

Of course, earnings at the track aren't the only consideration. A son of Indian Charlie from a blacktype female family -- even restricted blacktype -- has some hope of a stallion career, if he can win a stakes race somewhere himself, preferably more than one and of course, most preferably graded. That was no doubt in the back of Padua's minds when the stable spent more than double the sale's average price to get him.

Provided I haven't wagered on the race and since I don't yet own any to compete with them, I never root against a horse. They're magnificent animals and I respect them all. And I have no reason to cheer against Padua, Pletcher and Jara on Saturday, even though I took a bit of a stand against this horse on price at KEEAPR.

It's good to see him make the racetrack as a 2-year-old -- the first of that small handful of 10 or 12 horses I "went against" -- and it will be fun to see whether he can meet or exceed his buyers' expectations.

Track all the horses I did pick -- that's 187 from a slew of this year's 2-year-old sales -- and the few I panned in the list at the bottom of this former post.

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