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Young Guns in the Breeders’ Cup

Posted by Webster Washington on 10/15/2015 6:18:21 AM

Two-year-olds are hard to figure. That may sound like an understatement, but it’s one that rings true in the horse-racing world as well. First of all, their youth makes them a little rambunctious and somewhat unpredictable. (Hey, they’re 2!) Then there’s not much of a racing record to go by. On paper, along with the usual recent race results, I usually look for experience, pedigree and speed figures, if I can get them. If I’m fortunate enough to be at the track, I also look for poise in the paddock and post parade, which you may get a look at, even on TV. The four juvenile events in the Breeders’ Cup bring runners with some or all of these assets. Many of them deserve a look just to get a preview of their potential for Triple Crown events in their 3-year-old season. The upset potential here is really strong, so be prepared to go deep. Take Charge Brandi scored at an incredible 62-1 last year in the Juvenile Fillies, and Texas Red came in at 13-1 in the Juvenile. Nevertheless, here are the top competitors in the BC juvenile events as I see them:

Juvenile Turf

I’ve mentioned Airoforce, winner of the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes on Oct. 4, at Keeneland, the host track of the Breeders’ Cup; and Camelot Kitten, who was second in that race. I also put Waterloo Bridge up there as one of the top possibles from the foreign contingent. With six races – two of them victories – he’s by far the most experienced. If he comes over, he’ll be one to watch as a longshot. Another foreigner deserves consideration here. Washington DC is an Irish runner who will get some money. He is an Aidan O’Brien trainee, and O’Brien always brings tough competitors. DC has won two of five races, and was second to Air Force One in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last time out in August. O’Brien could also bring over Hit A Bomb, an exciting runner who just scored a big stakes victory at Dundalk in Ireland.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Minding will get some attention if she comes from abroad. This granddaughter of Northern Dancer brings in five races of British turf experience, with three wins to her credit. And she’s another who is trained O’Brien.

Harmonize has only three races, but all have been at more than the 1 mile distance of this event. Her last race was a win on the Keeneland turf, in the Grade 3 Jessamine. She went way wide to win that one.

Catch A Glimpse won the G3 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine in Canada on Sept. 12 to qualify for the BC. But her speed figure in that race perked some ears. Her 91 Beyer was the best on turf for any 2-year-old filly in North America this year.

Juvenile Fillies

Rachel’s Valentina is the sweetheart of the juvenile ranks, because she’s the daughter of the great Rachel Alexandra. Even more, her sire is Bernardini, from that Seattle Slew-AP Indy line. So far, she’s looked the part of her ancestors, winning her only two races in fine fashion. Her last win was in the G1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga in early September.

Songbird is the West Coast hit who has looked superb in winning all three of her races, including two Grade 1s. She won the G1 Chandelier at 1 1/16 miles last out at Santa Anita on Sept. 26.

Juvenile

Brody’s Cause made a late charge to win the G1 Breeders' Futurity on the same 1 1/16-mile Keeneland track that hosts this BC event. He’s the son of top-rated sire, Giant’s Causeway.

Exaggerator was second to Brody’s Cause in that Futurity at Keeneland, and he won the G2 Saratoga Special at 6 1/2 furlongs in August. He’s the son of Curlin.

Greenpointcrusader is another in the Seatlle Slew family, and he has won two of three races, including the G1 Champagne in the slop at Belmont on Oct. 3. At a mile, that was his longest race, but he had a troubled start and had to go wide to score.

Nyquist is unbeaten in four races, including three graded stakes, so he has to be considered. The West Coast runner’s last outing was a Sept. 26 win at 1 1/16 miles in the G1 Frontrunner at Santa Anita. But the fact that his speed figures have been gradually declining is a cause for caution.

Riker is unbeaten in four races, all on the artificial dirt at Woodbine in Canada. He won the Grey Stakes on Oct. 4 at 1 1/16 miles. Since the Polytrack surface translates so well to grass, he may choose to run in the Juvenile Turf event.

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