April 23, 2024

Third stakes attempt could be the charm for Free Drop Billy in Breeders’ Futurity

Free Drop Billy (left) and Givemeaminit (right) run second and third, respectively, in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Monday, September 4, 2017 (c) NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

After finishing second as the favorite in the Sanford (G3) and Hopeful (G1), Free Drop Billy will try to notch his first stakes victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The Dale Romans-trained colt rates as the probable favorite versus 12 rivals in the 1 1/16-mile test.

One of five graded stakes on a blockbuster 10-race program, the Breeders’ Futurity serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar and awards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale the top four finishers as part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series.

A convincing debut maiden winner at Churchill Downs in mid-June, Free Drop Billy experienced a troubled trip while offering a nice late turn of foot in the 6-furlong Sanford a month later. He just missed to Sporting Chance in the September 4 Hopeful at 7-furlongs, finishing a neck back after rallying five-wide off the far turn, and shows a recent “bullet” workout in preparation.

By the Lane’s End stallion Union Rags, Free Drop Billy was purchased for $200,000 as a yearling by Albaugh Family Stables and retains the services of Robby Albarado.

Givemeaminit enters winless but will receive plenty of support following a pair of highly encouraging outings at Saratoga. The Louisiana-bred Star Guitar colt opened his racing career with a fast-closing second to Sporting Chance in a Saratoga maiden special weight and jumped straight to stakes company with an excellent third in the Hopeful, winding up a nose back of Free Drop Billy in third. Brian Hernandez Jr. takes over the mount for Dallas Stewart.

Ten City is the lone graded stakes winner present, capturing the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs three starts previously, and the Run Away and Hide colt exits a pair of thirds in the Ellis Park Juvenile and Iroquois (G3). He showed an affinity for Keeneland when posting a seven-length debut last April and adds a hot-riding Corey Lanerie.

Wayne Lukas is bypassing the Breeders’ Futurity with Sporting Chance but the Hall of Fame conditioner will be represented by Bravazo, who rolled to a 4 ¾-length maiden tally when making his second start at Churchill Downs on September 16. The front-running son of Awesome Again keeps Jon Court in the saddle.

Ezmosh is exiting a wire-to-wire maiden tally for Brad Cox, who tied for leading training honors during the September meet at Churchill, and the Tom Amoss-trained Lone Sailor splashed his way to a runaway 11-length tally last time in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Saratoga. Ian Wilkes has Bourbon Resolution, who netted a fine 92 BRIS Speed rating when graduating at Saratoga on September 2, and Lone Rock tries stakes company after dominating maiden foes at Indiana Grand by a 10-length margin.

Enticed merits respect following a smart tally in his career bow at Saratoga but the cross-entered colt may opt for Saturday’s Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park after drawing post 13.

Completing the field are Saratoga Special (G2) fifth Crea’s Bklyn Law; Arlington-Washington Futurity runner-up Captivating Ghost; last-out Evangeline Downs Prince winner Ready Prospector; and Lionite, who has placed in a pair of outings for Steve Asmussen.