Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Tyler Baze teamed up to sweep Sunday’s TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile and Debutante. Each stakes is likely to furnish contenders for the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby and Oaks points races at Churchill Downs in September, making the seven-furlong contests early pointers as the trail begins in the Commonwealth.
Unlike last year, when future Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress starred in the Debutante in time much faster than the boys, Sunday’s $84,795 TwinSpires Ellis Park Juvenile featured by far the superior clocking. Rowdy Yates zipped as the 2-1 Juvenile favorite in 1:22.70, compared to stablemate Green Destiny’s 1:26.21 in the weather-delayed Debutante. Yet the filly’s fascinating pedigree pattern hints that she’s one to watch going forward too.
L and N Racing’s Rowdy Yates, a front-running debut romper at Churchill before a gritty second in the June 29 Bashford Manor (G3), again flashed speed through fractions of :22.39 and :45.44. Night Time vied with him early, but could not maintain the pace as the favorite got away turning into the stretch.
Letmeno was full of run on the rail, just needing a way through, and found a seam to offer his rally. Rowdy Yates was long gone, though, and crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths clear. Letmeno was best of the rest by the same margin from Night Time. Fourth-placer Jersey Town Angel reported home another 5 1/4 lengths back. Axiomo tired to fifth after taking a noticeable bobble at the break, and Two Last Words and Alec and Arthur trailed.
Judging by the sharp time, Rowdy Yates figures to turn out a better long-range prospect than his connections’ 2018 Ellis Park Juvenile winner, Tobacco Road. Whether he’ll have the distance capacity of L and N Racing’s first colorbearer to win this stakes, Lookin at Lee (2016), is another question. Lookin at Lee is best remembered for his runner-up effort in the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Bred in Oklahoma by Tracy Rene Strachan, Rowdy Yates sold for $42,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling and now sports $100,198 in earnings from a 3-2-1-0 record. The dark bay by Morning Line is the first registered foal from the unraced Yes It’s True mare Spring Station, a half-sister to Grade 3-winning sprinter Rich Mommy. This is the family of Grade 3 scorer Motor City and current UAE Oaks (G3) victress Divine Image.
The track remained fast for the $95,500 TwinSpires Ellis Park Debutante, finally off at 5:05 p.m. (CDT) after an ominous-looking storm prompted a delay.
Storm blowing in delays @TwinSpires #EllisPark Debutante. Horses were at starting gate but now are going back to paddock. @KyHBPA @nationalhbpa @HR_Nation pic.twitter.com/u7sR3EJNu8
— Ellis Park Racing (@EllisParkRacing) August 18, 2019
Clearsky Farms’ homebred Green Destiny, a 6-1 chance coming off an Ellis maiden win, proved authoritative on the front end. A head up on the 60-1 Monedas de Oro through an opening quarter in :22.61, she and Baze were content to let the longshot grab a slim lead at the half in :46.49. But it was only on sufferance, for Green Destiny left them all toiling as she powered to a four-length decision.
Monedas de Oro outperformed her odds in second. His Glory, representing Serengeti Empress’s trainer Tom Amoss, lacked her brilliance but stayed on for third. Next came Baileston Lassie, Secretly Wicked, Don’t Mine Me, Spitefulness, Dixie Mo, and the tailed-off Milli Star. Lady Glamour, the 3-5 favorite, was bumped at the start, never recovered, and eased. Top Hat Charmer was pulled up but walked off according to the chart.
Badly hampered when fifth in her unveiling at Churchill, Green Destiny improved her record to 3-2-0-0, $91,560.
Green Destiny’s pedigree features an intense application of the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to notable mares. She’s by Super Saver, the best son of the well-related A.P. Indy mare Supercharger. That same mare also appears in Green Destiny’s own maternal line as her third dam, so she’s inbred to Supercharger 2×3. Green Destiny was produced by the stakes-winning Bandini mare Defy Gravity, herself a half-sister to Grade 1 vixen Callback.