Breeders' Cup Juvenile shaping up as good one

Oct 19, 2019 3:07 AM

The Breeders’ Cup is sneaking up on us as it’s hard to believe it is just two weeks away.

Nearly all of the major prep races have been run. Serious horse racing handicappers will begin to hyper analyze the past performances, read and re-read clocker reports and dissect race replays like the Zapruder film.

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The Classic, normally the marquee event, has fallen apart a bit with important defections. But a race that will have a lot of intrigue will be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Amazingly, just one colt won both the Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. That was Street Sense in 2006 and 2007. A few legendary names were defeated in the championship race for two-year old males. Alysheba, Easy Goer, Point Given and Afleet Alex are some of the more famous horses to have run, and lost, in the Juvenile.

European superstar Arazi made a jaw-dropping move around the turn to inhale the 1991 field. He was moving four to their one and the term “Arazi-like move” was coined.

The 2019 version might be small on numbers but should be big on quality.  It appears three runners will vie for favoritism: Three Rings, Dennis’ Moment and Maxfield. All three have finished two races. Both Three Rings and Dennis’ Moment tossed their rider in one of their starts and both blew the doors off the field in their other two.

Dennis’ Moment might be the most intriguing of the three. He broke his maiden by nearly 20 lengths at Ellis Park. It wasn’t a small, overmatched field he was facing. It was a full field of 12 and he earned a 97 Beyer for the win. He can be any kind and trainer Dale Romans thinks he is Kentucky Derby material.

Three Rings is trained by Bob Baffert and comes in from an easy win in the G1 American Pharoah. It’s unclear how strong that field was but California-based colts normally run well when this race is contested at Santa Anita. Bob Baffert certainly needs no introduction.

But Maxfield is where I might land. This is a Street Sense colt by a Bernardini mare. That is route personified. One sibling to the dam, Sky Mesa, won the G1 Hopeful. Another, Golden Velvet, was a G2 winning router. The third dam, Outstandingly, won the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1984 (although she did benefit when the 75-1 winner, Fran’s Valentine, was DQ’d).

Maxfield came from far back to catch and go right by the highly regarded Todd Pletcher two-year old Gouverneur Morris, in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity (a high producing prep for this race) to win by five lengths. The Godolphin-owned colt is now 2-for-2 in his short career and provided the trainer, Brendan Walsh, his first Grade 1 victory. He might just give him his second, as well.

Breeders’ seminar

If you’re serious about getting an edge on this years Breeders’ Cup, and you live or are going to be visiting Las Vegas, you should really take in one of the seminars.

I’ll be doing one at Boulder Station on Thursday, October 31 at 6 p.m. PT — a Halloween visit by the Phantom!  I’ll be joined by Professor Gordon Jones and Canterbury Park TV handicapper Brian Arrigoni.  My full card analysis sheets for both days ($25 value) will be free for those in attendence.

Play of the Week

The 7th race at Keeneland on Wednesday is an excellent allowance route on the grass for older horses. Tigers Rule (No. 4) is worth a long look. He’s had major trouble in quite a few starts and has been hurt by racing on soft turf, not his surface of choice.

He drew the rail and the 11 post in two of his last three starts but overcame those tough draws to hit the board at overlaid odds. He has a perfect running style for this race and is 8-1 on the morning line.

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