There are thoroughbred sires whose sons and daughters physically mature at a leisurely pace. When they are aged four or even five, winning comes to them more often than in their first two years of racing.
One such sire was Dynaformer, whose most talented son at age two and three was Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner.
Now comes along another late-bloomer who was sired by Dynaformer, now deceased and living on only through his progeny.
Point of Entry is now four, having been foaled in 2008 at the Ogden “Dinny” Phipps Stable.
Before the calendar turned to 2012, Point of Entry had only two wins in eight career starts.
But he has been one of thoroughbred racing’s brightest super novas this year.
His trainer, “Shug” McGaughey, had him at Keeneland in April. Maybe the flowering dogwoods and redbud trees surrounding the outer reaches of the beautiful Keeneland expanse inspired Point of Entry. Or maybe it was that his maturation rate had allowed him to catch the competition.
McGaughey teamed Point of Entry with jockey John Velazquez and paraded them to the post in a routine allowance race on the firm Keeneland turf course.
The result was what the wisened trainer had wanted — a win without over-exerting his colt.
Just 15 days later, McGaughey brought Point of Entry to the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.
Velazquez was the rider. And the twosome teamed well again as they rode on away with a second straight win.
McGaughey took his usual calm approach when he ventured, “His two races at Keeneland were good races, and I just thought after I ran him back in 15 days that I’d give him a bit of a blow here and hopefully have a fresh horse for the rest of the year. I think he’s a true mile-and-three-eighths to a mile-and-a-half horse.”
It wasn’t until mid-July that McGaughey did bring his solid bay colt to another race.
It was the Man o’ War Stakes, a $600,000 event on the grass at Belmont Park. As the seven-horse field erupted from the starting gate, Point of Entry was placed second by jockey Jose Lezcano, substituting for the injured Velazquez.
Just inside the eighth pole, Point of Entry passed the pace-setter, Center Divider, and only increased his lead to the finish, winning by an expanding 3 1/2 lengths.
The Man o’ War win made it three in a row for the son of Dynaformer.
About a month later, McGaughey had Point of Entry at Saratoga in upstate New York for the $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes. The race’s distance was one-mile-and-a-half, the longest march Point of Entry had ever been asked to cover.
Velazquez was back aboard, sufficiently healed from his earlier injury.
As the pace developed, there were three horses in front of Point of Entry as he and Velazquez moved four-wide behind the leading group.
It wasn’t until the middle of the home stretch that Velazquez found an opening he needed and guided the cooperative brown colt smoothly through it and on to the lead.
Point of Entry kept accelerating.
He swept past the finish line, ahead by a comfortable four lengths.
Back in the winner’s circle, Velazquez told, “I was keeping him behind horses. I wanted him to be covered up. He was really strong the whole way. I didn’t want to make a move before the quarter pole anyway, so it worked out. He was ready to go any time I let him go. Incredible.”
Four straight wins. The Joe Hirsch this weekend at one-mile-and-a-half. Probably against the pace-setting Little Mike.
Point of Entry has matured as another son of Dynaformer that became more versatile more dominant with age.
He now shows the typical body structure of many of Dynaformer’s sons — rangy, more size than most, an athletic frame, and sturdy bone structure.
As Point of Entry has physically matured, he has found his best racing form. He’s not a sprinter nor just a miler. With his added size and muscle, he’s become one of the country’s best distance runners when judging those that favor turf courses.
McGaughey seems satisfied. But he is unpretentious and always shows his “seen it all” manner. Finding him full of gushing words will never happen.
“In the Sword Dancer, he found that seam at the quarter pole and it was over. I was very pleased with the trip. I told Johnny if the pace is fast, you know where you’ll be, and if it’s slow, Point of Entry will take you where he wants to go.”
The last four races, beginning at Keeneland in April, have been authoritative. The last two $600,000 stakes events have been won by 3 1/2 and four lengths.
Of the $934,490 in earnings Point of Entry has amassed, some $846,600 have come in 2012 alone.
The Joe Hirsch Invitational is at one-mile-and-a-half on the turf at Belmont Park and carries a purse of $600,000.
Point of Entry’s place in the important race will keep the memory of Dynaformer alive in the public’s mind and in the words spoken and penned by thoroughbred analysts and writers.
It could be five straight for the unflappable McGaughey. And the now-seasoned Point of Entry.