Keith Desormeaux has had a couple of very good 2-year-olds the past two years.
Texas Red won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2014. Exaggerator was fourth in the 2015 Juvenile but came back the following month to win the $1 million Delta Jackpot. This year, victories in the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness and Haskell Invitational, and a second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, have produced more than $2.5 in earnings.
On Monday, Desormeaux will saddle Straight Fire, a Kentucky-bred son of Dominus in the $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Futurity. The seven-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds is the traditional feature of the summer meeting's closing day program and has been a showcase event for the last three Kentucky Derby winners – California Chrome in 2013, American Pharoah in 2014 and Nyquist last year.
Straight Fire, owned by Jim Rome's Jungle Racing LLC and partners, has two career starts, both at Del Mar. On July 17, he was second, beaten 5 ½ lengths by a track-record performance for five furlongs from Futurity rival Chasing Aces. Straight Fire's comeback race at 6 ½ furlongs on August 6 was a visually stunning, wire-to-wire 10 ½ length romp.
Is he the next big thing for Desormeaux?
“His first time out he was just up against a fast horse and he ran unbelievable,” Desormeaux said. “I would agree that his second was a freakish performance. So it remains to be seen if that's normal for him or if that was an anomaly.
“That was so outstanding that as a horseman you can't really expect that every time. But we really don't know. If he is that fast it would be unbelievable to imagine. But fun.”
Straight Fire has shown early speed in both starts and been passed only by Chasing Aces, who was en route to breaking a 52-year-old track record
“He's so different in style that it's a different angle for me,” Desormeaux said. “Usually my horses are late developers (and have an) off the pace style. I haven't trained him for speed, so what we've seen is all natural. It's interesting to see if he can take on my style, which is to relax and finish, yet not get in the way of his natural speed.
“If it happens, wow, the future's bright for him.”
The Futurity will go as the fifth on a 10-race card. The field from the rail out: Chasing Aces (Tyler Baze, 9-5), Straight Fire (Kent Desormeaux, 8-5), Midnight Pleasure (Martin Garcia, 10-1), Vegas Itch (Jamie Theriot, 20-1), Dynamic Ruler (Flavien Prat, 20-1) and Klimt (Rafael Bejarano, 2-1).
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