The 3-year-old horses who run over hurdles in the United States are like, well, 3-year-olds. Unpredictable and full of potential. Someday, they'll be great like champions Zaccio, Lonesome Glory, Warm Spell and Demonstrative. Or someday, they'll be lost to history like T.V. Gold, Solitary Strike, Wetlands and Jogja.
Nine newcomers tackle Saturday's $50,000 Gladstone, the sixth race at Far Hills, at 2 1/8 miles. They hail from pretty much everywhere - Trappe Hill Road has never run anywhere, Officer's Oath won at Shawan Downs, Invocation has already run five times over hurdles, Don't Make Me Cry makes his 11th start this year.
Trappe Hill Road: Sold for $290,000 as a Saratoga yearling to Wounded Warrior Stable and $170,000 as a 2-year-old to bloodstock agent Steve Young, the son of Malibu Moon makes the first start - flat or jump - of his career for leading trainer Jack Fisher. Dam Winning Season placed in a graded stakes for Overbrook Farm and D. Wayne Lukas. Respect the connections, but not much to go on.
Serilda: Maryland-bred filly by Etched lost seven starts on the flat and was fourth in her jump debut at Shawan. Should improve for that education for Boniface family, which can win things like this.
Awesome Adrian: Nancy Reed's homebred is a full-brother to 3-year-old hurdle winner Handsome Hoyt so that has to count for something. Third at Shawan and adds Lasix.
Officer's Oath: Virginia-bred scored by 2 lengths in hurdle debut at Shawan and has won twic eon the flat at Charles Town so plenty of speed too. Beat four of his rivals in the Shawan win. Will be tough to handle again.
Invocation: Bred in France, but raced in England with top trainer Alan King including five hurdle starts this summer and fall including two starts in a week July 10 and 17. He finished second three times and third once. Now with Joe Davies in Maryland, the son of Intense Focus gets five-time champion jockey Paddy Young. Sharp newcomer.
Cuba Libre: It's a cool restaurant in Philadelphia (get the mojito) and other places. The horse sold for $250,000 as a 2-year-old last March and made one start this winter for Chad Brown. Medaglia d'Oro gelding goes hurdling for Richard Valentine, which should prick your ears. Interesting.
Don't Make Me Cry: Fifth at Shawan, the son of Street Cry made 13 starts on the flat (winning twice and getting claimed twice). Surely learned something in lone hurdle try, but will need to improve.
Mythmaker: Owner/trainer Jonathan Sheppard sends out Artie Schiller gelding, whose flat career includes six starts and zero wins. Second at Penn National in June. In right barn to breakthrough, but prefer others.
Popcastle: Second to Officer's Oath at Shawan, Wilburn gelding takes another crack after setting the pace and yielding late. Will need to save something for the final quarter-mile in this.