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2010 Breeders' Cup: The Juveniles

Some of the most interesting and difficult races to handicap at the Breeders' Cup are those involving the potential starts of tomorrow - the juveniles.  The mere fact that many of these horses have raced only two or three times in their career, many at distances shorter than what they will run at the Breeders' Cup, makes it difficult to assess the relative merits of the field.  Young horses can display great improvement from race to race which makes the task of handicapping juvenile races as much a prediction of which horse will take a step forward as it is trying to determine which has run the best in prior races.

Below is a race by race look at some of the juveniles that I am keeping my eye on over the next few days.

Juvenile Turf

Horse

Trainer

Air Support

McGaughey III, Claude

$Rogue Romance

McPeek, Kenneth

Pluck

Pletcher, Todd

Banned

Proctor, Thomas

*Biondetti

Al Zarooni, Mahmood

Deciphering Dreams

Dutrow, Richard

Dux Scholar (GB)

Stoute, Sir Michael

#Madman Diaries

Ward, Wesley

Major Gain

Catalano, Wayne

Mantoba (GB)

Meehan, Brian

Master of Hounds

O'Brien, Aiden

Soldat

McLaughlin, Kiran

Utley

Gosden, John

Wilcox Inn

Stidham, Michael

AE

Typhoon Slew

Maker, Michael

AE

Rough Sailing

Stidham, Michael

AE

Silver Medallion

Brown, Chad

AE

Humble and Hungry

Correas, Ignacio

*Biondetti has 1st preference in the Juvenile

#Madman Diaries has 2nd preference in the Juvenile

$Rogue Romance has 1st preference in the Juvenile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm going to tackle the Juvenile Turf first and I specifically want to deal with two horses: the shipper from Italy, Biondetti, and Rouge Romance, winner of the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland.  A Goldolphin colt, Biondetti is cross-entered in both the Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf, with first preference in the Juvenile.  Rouge Romance is also cross-entered in both races with first preference in the Juvenile.  Had eight one of these colts stayed in the Juvenile Turf, they'd be big-time favorites.  But going on the dirt instead of the turf introduces a whole new set of questions.

The past performances note that Biondetti ran his last race, the Group 1 Grand Criterium, on the straight.  I was able to pull the video from this race off of YouTube and found out that the race was actually run with a right-handed turn; just something to keep in mind if you're concerned about this colt's ability to negotiate a turn.  In the Grand Criterium, Biondetti settled in nicely in mid-pack, was content to sit tight coming off the turn, was asked for more run with a little more than three furlongs remaining, and commenced a long, winning drive over the final quarter of a mile.  It was a visually impressive effort and a professional one, as well. 

Biondetti is by 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini out of a Lyphard mare (Lyphard's Delta).  His dam has thrown runners that have won on both turf and dirt, but her dirt winners are much more prevalent.  However, the versatility of Lyphard's Delta combined with Bernardini could set-up Biondetti to perform well in his first try on dirt.  He seems to be more of a grinder rather than a horse with a huge turn of foot, and perhaps that will play better on the dirt.

Rouge Romance is a Smarty Jones colt out of an Afleet mare (Lovington), and he's put together a couple of nice wins in his last two races, including his hard closing finish in the Grade 3 Bourbon stakes where he had to close into very soft opening fractions (1:13.2 for six). 

The dam of Rogue Romance, Lovington, has produced one other foal to win on turf (Indy Mood), with all the rest winning on dirt, so pedigree wise it seems completely logical that this colt could take to the dirt. 

Juvenile Turf pre-entry, Master of Hounds, is one of the Euros to pay attention to in this spot.  He didn't run that great in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy a week ago, but that was the first start off a good lay-off.  He's run two of his best races (finishing position wise) when he's been asked to turn, as opposed to running on the straight. 

Juvenile

Horse

Trainer

Jaycito

Mitchell, Mike

J. B.'s Thunder

Stall Jr., Albert

Uncle Mo

Pletcher, Todd

Biondetti

Al Zarooni, Mahmoud

Boys At Tosconova

Dutrow, Richard

J P's Gusto

Hofmans, David

Madman Diaries

Ward, Wesley

Murjan

Miller, Darrin

Riveting Reason

Cho, Myung Kwon

Rogue Romance

McPeek, Kenneth

Stay Thirsty

Pletcher, Todd

*Biondetti has 2nd preference in the Juvenile Turf

#Madman Diaries has 1st preference in  the Juvenile Turf

$Rogue Romance has 2nd preference in the Juvenile Turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does anybody have a clue as to what to do with Murjan, the shipper from Peru?  He's three-for three, all on dirt, and looks to be a talented colt.  But, really, do we know anything about racing in Peru?  I found at video at YouTube from his last race (although the quality is pretty poor), but you at least can watch him sneak up along the rail in the final furlong to surge past the tiring front-runner who lugged out badly in deep stretch.  It looks like he was working pretty hard to win that race and you kind of have to wonder how he'll fare against what should be a much tougher group of colts. 

There is a lot of front-end speed in this year's Juvenile, which includes the likely post-time favorite, Uncle MoStay Thirsty, J P's Gusto, J.B.'s Thunder, Jaycito, and Boys At Tosconova have all displayed a desire to run on or near the lead in the early stages of the race.  The question then becomes, "will the pace be fast enough to compromise any of the front-runners?"

If you think the pace could get a bit out of control in this one, and if you think the race has the potential to fall apart at the end (which I think it very well could), then the two cross-entries from the Juvenile Turf become a bit more attractive.  Rouge Romance and Biondetti are more than likely going to be far away from any early pace battle, which could give them a big shot if things start to break down in the latter stages.  I don't know that I believe that either of those two horses are the likely winners (I think Uncle Mo is going to be really tough to beat), but I think they each could be a decent value play.

Juvenile Filly Turf

Horse

Trainer

Winter Memories

Toner, James

Kathmanblu

McPeek, Kenneth

New Normal

Frostad, Mark

Allure d'Amour

Pletcher, Todd

Arch Support

Contessa, Gary

Fancy Point

Phipps, William

Flood Plain (GB)

Gosden, John

*Jordy Y

Catalano, Wayne

More Than Real

Pletcher, Todd

Queit Oasis (IRE)

Meehan, Brian

Together (IRE)

O'Brien, Aiden

Tale Untold

Hannon, Richard

#Theyskens' Theory

Meehan, Brian

Wyomia

Vella, Daniel

AE

Silent Joy

Nihei, Michelle

AE

Dos Lunas

Glenney, John

AE

Forest Legend

Oliver, Vicki

AE

Nina Fever

Ward, Wesley


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


*Jordy Y has 1st preference in the Juvenile Fillies
#Theyskens' Theory has 1st preference in the Juvenile Fillies.

 

I love the way the pre-entries fell for the Juvenile Filly Turf, a race that has produced back-to-back winners at odds of 10/1 or greater the last two years.  Jordy Y and Theyskens' Theory will likely start in the Juvenile Fillies, so we can probably cross them off the list. 

Given her performances in Ireland and Great Britain, Together (IRE) looks like a filly that will run a bit better going around a turn rather than running on the straight.  The filly that she lost to in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Ascot is undefeated in four starts and is the current favorite with bookmakers for the 1,000 Guineas next spring at Newmarket.  Class-wise, Together is at or near the top of this field.

Kathmanblu ran what I thought was a super race in the listed Jessamine at Keeneland a couple of weeks ago.  She gave the field seven or eight lengths at the start, watched the leaders run the opening six in 1:13.8, and then she closed like a freight train under Julien Leparoux to turn the race into a laugher.  Not to mention that she circled the field six wide when coming off the far turn and did so while Leaproux sat chilly in the saddle.  She wasn't asked for more run until she had passed the field on her own accord and then she opened to up to win by daylight.  Kathmanblu was clearly the best filly in the field that day...and the margin wasn't even close.

There doesn't look to be a ton of speed in the Juvenile Filly Turf but Fancy Point, New Normal, and Nina Fever should ensure that things stay honest up front.  Even it if the pace does come up a bit on the soft side, I think both Together and Kathmanblu would not be at a severe disadvantage.

I've read analysis from different corners that feels Winter Memories, winner of the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont, will be the betting favorite in this race.  I'm not sure I'm completely sold on this filly.  The way she finished up in that last race was very impressive, especially given the 1:15 pace for six furlongs that she had to close into.  But I'm a bit worried that the yielding turf course took a bit more of a toll on her competitors than on Winter Memories and that her margin of victory was exaggerated.  At the same time, she's two-for-two and has run fast final fractions in both of her career victories, something that's tough to ignore.

I'm leaning heavily in the direction of Kathmanblu in this race, with Together my strong #2.  If Fancy Point could get loose on the front end I would give her a big shot, as well.

Juvenile Fillies

Horse

Trainer

A Z Warrior

Baffert, Bob

Awesome Feather

Gold, Stanley

Believe in A.P.

Dutrow, Richard

Deilghtful Mary

Casse, Mark

Harlan's Ruby

McPeek, Kenneth

Indian Gracey

Hollendorfer, Jerry

Izshelegal

Knight, Terry

*Jordy Y

Catalano, Wayne

Joyful Victory

Dutrow, Richard

R Heat Lightning

Pletcher, Todd

Soundwave

Werner, Ronny

Tell a Kelly

Sadler, John

#Theyskens' Theory

Meehan, Brian

*Jordy Y has 2nd preference in Juvenile Fillies Turf

#Theyskens' Theory has 2nd preference in Juvenile Fillies Turf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Injuries have decimated the Juvenile Filly division a bit this summer and this field reflects.  I wouldn't say it's a weak field (it actually looks pretty competitive from top to bottom), I just don't know that this race is really

For me, this race begins and ends with A Z Warrior, winner of the Frizette.  She started her career out in California and was inconsistent on the synthetic surfaces.  A plane ride out to New York saw her wake up with a very solid win in the Frizette over R Heat Lightning and Joyful Victory at Saratoga.  When you combine her good form, improvement when switched to dirt and strong recent training moves, A Z Warrior jumps to the top of my list.

Florida-bred Calder shipper, Awesome Feather, spent the past six months embarrassing the juvenile filly population in Miami.  The competition gets a lot stiffer in this race but, as I wrote above, I don't think there is any monsters in this race that immediately eliminate this filly from consideration.  She's five-for-five and has won her last three races by a combined 17 lengths and registered decent speed figures in the process.  Sure, she's been racing in restricted company in her last three, but she did what she was supposed to do against inferior competition and that's dominate them.  Awesome Feather could be available at a nice price come Friday.

Theyskens' Theory* is another European shipper sired by Bernardini that will likely make her dirt debut at the Breeders' Cup.  Theyskens' Theory is a half-sister to 2005 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, and her dam, Heat Lightning, has produced several foals to run successfully on dirt.  Like Biondetti, the pedigree suggests that dirt shouldn't be a problem for this filly. 

If we accept the premise that Theyskens' Theory will probably run decently on dirt, we then are left to wonder what kind of a chance does she have in this race?  In her races in Great Britain, Theyskens' Theory has either led or been right off the early speed and I would expect her to employ a somewhat similar style in the Juvenile Fillies.  She probably doesn't have the speed to lead this race, but if she can show enough tactical speed in the early stages she could be set up for a nice run once the field hits the top of the lane.

*Note: Try to figure this one out: R Heat Lightning is out of the dam Yellow Heat, while Theyskens' Theory is out of the dame Heat Lightning.  You'd think R Heat Lightning would be out of Heat Lightning.  It seems odd how once in a while you get a race where the horses' names, seemingly these completely random creations by each owner, can be so similar or come from similar named horses within their pedigree.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with the California synthetic horses.  Indian Gracey and Tell A Kelly, if they transfer their form to dirt, would both have big shots to win in this spot.  As always, it's difficult to determine if either will fire their best on a new surface.