Late July is a time where anticipation starts to build about which horses will emerge as spring stars. Of particular interest each year is which two-year-olds will emerge as top class three-year-olds in the new term.
We canvassed this issue 12 months ago.
In that particular article we looked at the best two-year-olds and how they fared as older horses. We also studied what the top three-year-olds had done at two.
The purpose of the article was to show that the oft-assumed phrase about top juveniles being burnt out when they returned at three is a wrong assumption.
Last year we wrote:
Of the 78 horses that were Group 1 placed as a two-year-old in (the past six seasons), there were 19 of those (24%) that went on to win a Group 1 race at three or older.
That figure held true over the past season as well, with three of the 12 Group 1 juvenile placegetters from 2017-18 winning at the highest level this season – The Autumn Sun, Sunlight and Oohood.
A further three were placed at Group 1 level as three-year-olds: Fundamentalist – four times, including three very close second placings, Zousain – two close second placings and Seabrook – one third.
Group 1 Placed Two-Year-Olds from 2017/2018
With a solid history putting aside the theory that top two-year-olds are burnt out at three, it’s natural to look again at the Group 1 two-year-old placegetters from the 2017/2018 season as a likely source of Group 1 winners in the coming 2019/2020 season. They were, in alphabetical order:
- Free of Debt
- Lady Lupino
- Lankan Star
- Loving Gaby
- Prince Fawaz
The three we like most as potential Group 1 winners in the new season are: Castelvecchio, Kubrick and Loving Gaby.
Beyond Group 1 Placegetters and Stakes Class Races.
One of the strengths we pride our WFA Performance Ratings on is the ability to identify future stakes class horses before they start racing at that level.
We don’t believe in the notion that a horse’s rating should be restricted in any way due to the class of race it has contested. In other words, you don’t need to run in Group class races to earn Group class ratings.
If our models, manual review processes and the various checks and balances indicate that a horse has run a top-class rating, then that’s the number it is given, regardless of whether it was a Maiden or Group 1 race.
That philosophy has led to some notable successes in identifying top class talent from non-stakes class races. They include:
- She Will Reign: rated 100.5 in a Kembla Maiden on debut and later won the G1 Golden Slipper.
- Global Glamour: rated 101 in a Kembla maiden on debut and later won the G1 Flight Stakes and G1 Thousand Guineas as a three-year-old
- Extreme Choice: rated 103 winning the restricted Inglis Nursery at Randwick on debut and later won the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes and G1 Moir Stakes at WFA.
- Yankee Rose: rated 103 winning a 2YO race at Rosehill and later won the G1 Sires Produce as a two-year-old and G1 Spring Champion Stakes as a three-year-old.
- Brutal: rated 102.5 on debut winning a 2YO Open at Caulfield and later won the G1 Doncaster Hcp as a three-year-old
- Estijaab: rated 102 in a 2YO Open at Randwick and later won the G1 Golden Slipper
- I Am A Star: rated 102 in a 2YO Fillies Open at Flemington and later won the G1 Myer Stakes as a three-year-old filly, against older mares.
- Russian Revolution: rated 98 in a Canterbury maiden on debut and 101 in a 2YO Open at Randwick before going on to win the G1 Galaxy and G1 Oakleigh Plate.
- Kementari: rated 100 on debut in a 2YO Open at Randwick and later won the G1 Randwick Guineas as a three-year-old
The list goes on with numerous other Group 1 and Stakes winners that were flagged with particularly strong two-year-old ratings in non-stakes races.
To give you an idea of how often such ratings are awarded, just 0.1% of non-stakes class two-year-old runs have been rated 100+, that’s 19 individual horses over the past four seasons. Just 0.3% of non-stakes class two-year-old runs have been rated 97+
A benchmark to work with
From the previous two seasons, there were 30 individual two-year-olds in Australia that ran a WPR of 97 or better in a NON-STAKES RACE.
Of those, a significant 14 (46.6%) went on to win a stakes race the next season as a three-year-old. A further four of them (63%) were stakes placed. Four (13.3%) won Group 1 races.
When you are talking about finding future stakes winners at three-years-old using non-stakes races at two as your reference, then a 46.6% success rate and 13.3% for future Group 1 winners is a significant number.
This seems a good starting point to help predict top rating three-year-olds in the coming season.
Looking towards the 2019/2020 season
In the 2018/2019 season about to end, there were 17 two-year-olds that posted a WPR of 97 or better in a non-stakes class race:
- 103 Tassort – Rosehill, November 24
- 100 Castelvecchio – Warwick Farm, February 9
- 99.3 True Detective – Rosehill, July 13
- 99 Prince Of Sussex – Caulfield, April 27 (since sold to Hong Kong)
- 98.5 Dawn Passage – Randwick, January 26
- 98 Czarson – Rosehill, December 8
- 98 Spend – Rosehill, July 13
- 97.5 Exhilarates – Gold Coast, January 12
- 97.5 Absolute Flirt – Sandown Hillside, April 22
- 97 You Hadme At Hello – Gawler, April 25
- 97 Super Seth – Ballarat, March 24
- 97 Microphone – Flemington, January 12
- 97 Splintex – Rosehill, June 1
- 97 Enforcement – Rosehill, June 15
- 97 Montelena – Belmont, June 22
- 97 Rubisaki – Flemington, June 22
- 97 Funstar – Randwick, June 22
Tassort’s rating is a standout and sits third for all performances in the season, trailing only Cosmic Force (104 in the Pago Pago) and Kiamichi, who ran 103.3 in the Golden Slipper. We only saw him one more time this season, when second on wet ground in the Group 2 Silver Slipper.
Castelvecchio we know now as the Group 1 Champagne Stakes winner, but it was back in February where he showcased his big race winning potential.
Further down the list, Microphone went on to put himself in the frame for 2YO of the Year honours, with his Golden Slipper second and ATC Sires victory.
There are others there though who are as yet untapped … and based on the recent historical evidence, a number of them destined to reach higher honours in 2019-20.
Special cases worth mentioning
One horse that we couldn’t pass without mentioning is the James Cummings trained Flit.
She only raced in a G3 and G2 race as a two-year-old and therefore couldn’t make either of the above lists.
However, she showed serious top-class talent when an outstanding second to Anaheed in the G2 Percy Sykes Stakes at Randwick on 13/4/19, rating 99.9. It was one of the best runs of any horse in the two-year-old season.
She looks to have plenty of upside, especially over 1400m-1600m and profiles as a strong candidate to win a Group 1 race in the new season.
The other, which is in many punters black books is the Hawkes trained Exceedance. This Colt only rated 95.3 in his last start in a 2YO open at Rosehill (below our 97 threshold), but it was a phenomenal run making up a stack of ground against a slow pace bias with scintillating sectionals.
He’ll have some hot opposition among the other Colts in the new season, but is still very much untapped with what appears to be top class potential.
WPR top 10 individual 2YO performances from this season
|COSMIC FORCE||104||Colt||16-Mar-19||Rosehill||1200||2YOC&G SW GP3|
|KIAMICHI||103.3||Filly||23-Mar-19||Rosehill||1200||2YO SW GP1|
|MICROPHONE||102||Colt||16-Feb-19||Flemington||1100||2YO SWP LR|
|CASTELVECCHIO||102||Colt||20-Apr-19||Randwick||1600||2YO SW GP1|
|MICROPHONE||101.5||Colt||06-Apr-19||Randwick||1400||2YO SW GP1|
|MICROPHONE||101||Colt||02-Mar-19||Randwick||1200||2YOC&G SW GP2|
|ANAHEED||101||Filly||13-Apr-19||Randwick||1200||2YOF SWP GP2|
|MICROPHONE||101||Colt||23-Mar-19||Rosehill||1200||2YO SW GP1|
|BIVOUAC||100.5||Colt||06-Apr-19||Randwick||1100||2YO SW GP3|
|LIBERTINI||100.5||Filly||11-May-19||Scone||1100||2YOF QUALI LR|