Talk of Too Darn Hot’s prowess had already reached racing’s bush telegraph by the time the beautifully-bred colt made his racecourse debut at Sandown Park on August 9, 2018.
With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, the Dubawi colt was sent off the 8/11 favourite for a one-mile maiden. And he created a lasting impression by displaying stunning acceleration to surge clear for a seven-length victory.
Sandown would again be the venue for Too Darn Hot’s second start, the Group 3 Solario Stakes on September 1, 2018. And again the budding wonder colt didn’t disappoint by justifying Evens favouritism under Dettori with another stunning display. This time the winning margin was four lengths and again he displayed a terrific turn of foot.
Too Darn Hot was out again just 14 days after that Sandown triumph as he stepped up in class to Group 2 for Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes. This time the 4/11 favourite and Dettori were made to work much harder, but when Too Darn Hot quickened again the response was blistering. He repelled the talented Phoenix of Spain by a length and three-quarters to retain his perfect record.
The natural step now for Too Darn Hot was to step up to Group One company for the Dewhurst Stakes in Newmarket - the most prestigious two-year-old race of the year in the UK. He duly ended a brilliant juvenile campaign with another superb victory.
Too Darn Hot headed into winter quarters a warm favourite to add Classic glory to his CV in 2019, but alas it wasn’t to be. He was being trained for a Classic prep in Newbury’s Greenham Stakes when heat was found in a splint bone. Gosden was at that stage still hopeful he would make the 2000 Guineas field at Newmarket on May 4, but a few days later had to admit he had lost that race against time.
With the Guineas now out of the picture Gosden decided to send Too Darn Hot to York to reappear in the Group Two Dante Stakes - a renowned Epsom Derby trial run over 10 furlongs. With Dettori again on board the pair went to post the Evens favourite, but for the first time would not come back victorious. Despite running creditably, his famed turn of foot wasn’t enough to take him past Hughie Morrison’s Telecaster in the closing stages and he could finish only second.
Perceived wisdom - certainly in the Gosden camp - was that stamina had cost Too Darn Hot in the Dante and instead of going to Epsom for the Derby they decided to drop him back to a mile to bid for Classic compensation in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 25.
The field was a high-class one, with English 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, trained by Ballydoyle maestro, also in the field. The big guns were sent off the 6/4 joint favourites but neither would come home in front. Instead if was the Charle Hills-trained Phoenix Of Spain – beaten by Too Darn Hot in the Champagne as a two-year-old – who scorched to a brilliant three-length victory at surprising odds of 16/1. Too Darn Hot was again second with Magna Grecia a disappointing fifth.
Gosden decided to keep his brilliant two-year-old to a mile for his next outing - the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18. Again Too Darn Hot (2/1) would go off favourite but again he would fall just short at the highest level - quickening well but failing to outpoint Aidan O’Brien’s Circus Maximus and his own stablemate King Of Comedy. He was beaten a neck and three-quarters of a length.
Gosden, who had blamed himself for the horse’s campaign so far, said afterwards: “Too Darn Hot ran a very good race, came to win his race and got in front. He's built very powerfully. He looks like a sprinter/miler. Frankie (Dettori) said he feels like a Jersey horse and that's what he is. He was champion two-year-old, won the Dewhurst in great style, but stamina wasn't for him today. This is a stiff mile and it just caught him out."
With question marks now very real about Too Darn Hot's stamina, Gosden decided to drop him back to seven furlongs for the Group One Qatar Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on July 7. The champion two-year-old was sent off the 4/5 favourite and bounced right back to winning form at last, leading inside the final two furlongs to scorch three lengths clear of runner-up Space Blues.