OCEANPORT – There was plenty for trainer Ben Colebrook to like about American Blaze’s dazzling 17-length win in his career debut on July 30 at Ellis Park in Kentucky, but there was also one question left unanswered by the performance.
Just how good is the Kentucky-bred son of American Freedom?
Colebrook hopes to have a better idea following American Blaze’s race in the 88th edition of the Sapling Stakes for 2-year-olds at Monmouth Park on Aug. 27. The Sapling, which carries a $200,000 purse, is a two-turn mile on the main track, according to a press release.
“You never expect them to win by 17 lengths,” said Colebrook. “I thought he could win the race. It was a restricted maiden race for horses that had sold at auction for less than $40,000.
“He obviously passed that test, but the water will get a little deeper in the Sapling. But he is coming into the race in good order and I expect him to put in a good effort.”
American Blaze, owned by Terry Hamilton and Murray House, came into Colebrook’s care shortly after selling for $27,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale Company March Sale of 2-year-olds in training five months ago.
“The first time I worked him he worked really well at Keeneland,” said Colebrook. “Every time after that when he worked he worked well.”
Working well is one thing. Making a breathtaking move like American Blaze did into the turn in his first start is quite another. The footnotes in the race chart noted the colt “swept past them with a quick blitz.”
“Around the turn he was going so easily that (jockey) Colby Hernandez let him out a little more and he quickly put the race away,” said Colebrook. “It was just a matter of how much he would win by after that. It was a very impressive move on the turn because he was wider than the other horses. But remember he was running in a restricted-type race so it was almost like beating state-breds.”
That doesn’t mean Colebrook is diminishing the performance. He just wants to see more, especially since a potential target for the colt is the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 8
“Obviously, if he runs well in this race that would set him up for the Keeneland race,” said Colebrook. “He would have to win this race to think about that. So we will have to wait and see.”
Hernandez will come in for the ride, with American Blaze due to ship in from Kentucky on Friday morning.
For Colebrook, this will be his second appearance at Monmouth Park as a trainer, though he said he was at the Shore track many times as an assistant to Christophe Clement.
Colebrook sent out Club Car to a second place finish in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 2, with the filly beaten a head by Edie Meeny Miny Mo.
His only other prior Monmouth Park starter was Fancy Dress Party, who won the 2019 Miss Woodford Stakes. Colebrook was not physically at Monmouth Park that day, however.
He will be there on Saturday and the one variable he is not worried about is American Blaze’s willingness to go long. The Ellis Park win was at seven furlongs.
“I don’t see two turns as a problem,” said Colebrook. “It’s not like he was at five-and-a-half furlongs and you are stretching him out to a mile.”