By Rab Hagin
From last to first as the youngest among nine, unbeaten THERAPIST showcased his talent by winning the $100,000 Laurel Futurity in 1:09.50 for six furlongs on turf on Saturday, September 16, even after the flashy FREUD colt had crashed through the gate prior to the start. Despite all his eagerness, Therapist still broke next-to-last and was squeezed back to last shortly thereafter, but those setbacks seemed inconsequential. With a quarter-mile to run, he was sixth and appeared blocked along the rail before angling outside and accelerating, overtaking the closing, odds-on third-place finisher plus the mid-stretch leader and eventual runner-up by racing his final individual eighth-mile split in about 11 seconds. Therapist’s final furlong was easily the fastest of 54 individual furlong splits posted by the nine equally-weighted Laurel Futurity starters, and he was the youngest (foaled May 22, 2015) among those starters.
A homebred for Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, Therapist was the only Laurel Futurity starter competing without medication – in addition to running without blinkers, bandages, or shadow roll. He was coming off a debut victory over nine rivals in a $62,000 Belmont turf maiden special on July 2, in which he also broke slowly and lagged back before rushing through his final furlong to win that six-furlong contest by almost two lengths. Jockey Daniel Centeno, who rode Therapist for the first time in the Laurel Futurity, reported the competitive colt might have been somewhat on edge: “It was only his second start, and he got nervous,” said Centeno. “I got lucky he didn’t get hurt in the gate. I was watching the (odds-on) favorite (winner of an $83,000 Saratoga open maiden special on turf by more than two lengths), and turning for home, I put him into gear and he responded. He galloped out strong.”
Therapist is Freud’s 54th stakes winner, 24th Northern Hemisphere repeat winner of 2017, and among Freud’s five 2-year-old winners (six wins) of 2017. His trainer and co-breeder, Christophe Clement, also trained Freud’s recently-retired three-time graded winner, LUBASH ($1,515,139), a homebred for Leonard Pivnick’s Aliyu Ben J Stables. “He’s perfectly sound and is retiring as a sound horse,” remarked Clement in reference to Lubash, adding, “He’s a…well-balanced horse and had a great turn of foot.”
Great turn of foot is an understatement. Lubash’s two-turn turf record, including a course record-setting stakes performance of 1:39.08 for 1 1/16 miles on Belmont’s inner turf, overshadows his 12½-length maiden-breaking win going six furlongs on Aqueduct dirt and a seven-furlong victory romp in 1:20.32.
Therapist, who is his dam’s first 2-year-old winner, first stakes winner, and represents the first black type within two generations for his female family, was among Freud’s five winners during Thursday-Friday-Saturday, September 14, 15, and 16. On Thursday, owner-trainer Judy Woodbury’s route-loving son of Freud, UNCLE MITCHO ($142,334), won a $53,750 Kentucky Downs starter allowance by 5¼ lengths going 1½ miles under top weight on that facility’s rolling (and yielding) turf course – 18 days after having broken his own 1½-mile turf course record at Belterra Park. Among the nine rivals (four of them six-figure-earners) that Uncle Mitcho was conceding weight to were two stakes second-placers, including the even-money runner-up, a $336,432-earner who had missed by a neck in a Grade 2 turf event.
Among three winners representing Freud on the same day as Therapist was BAMBOO STICK ($172,867), who beat seven fillies and mares going 6½ furlongs at Hollywood Casino Charles Town for her fourth victory of the year for owners Kelli Norton and Frank Fiumera, enhancing a never-worse-than-fourth nine-start 2017 season. At Finger Lakes, Castle Village Farm’s son of Freud, SPARTAN EMPEROR, scored his third victory of 2017 and fourth career tally by 2½ lengths at odds-on going 5½ furlongs on Friday, September 15. The next day at Finger Lakes, owner-trainer M. Anthony Ferraro’s black type stakes-placed six-figure-earning filly, CRAZY LOVE, romped by 10½ lengths at odds-on going gate-to-wire at a mile for her fourth victory, becoming Freud’s 76th Northern Hemisphere winner of 2017.
Freud’s 2017 North American progeny earnings of almost $4-million (more than $47-million cumulative) not only ranks him as the unchallenged leading New York-based sire for 2017, but also puts him well ahead of his previous in-state rivals who have since been relocated to California and South America.
In Argentina on Sunday, September 17, Argentine-bred Freud filly TARDE O TEMPRANO indicated she might be her sire’s next South American black type stakes winner by scoring her fourth victory in eight starts with a four-length romp at 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) on dirt at Palermo in Buenos Aires. Owned by Mingo Y La Maruca Stable, Tarde O Temprano has tried turf once – in a Group 1 event against 17 rivals in her only outing at San Isidro (also in Buenos Aires) – which might have been an unfamiliar scenario for attempting a new surface. For the current 2016-2017 Southern Hemisphere season which began in July, Freud already is represented by group winners KEY DANCE and ORANGE NUGGET.