- I haven’t yet gotten past the juvenile races that lead off the Breeders’ Cup yet. These are the races that were scheduled to precede the Pick Six because they are supposedly less contentious than the others, save the Sprint. The Sprint was strictly a ratings call I’m sure, as Lost in the Fog is probably the most marketable horse of the day from NBC’s standpoint; I’m kinda surprised that the race isn’t even later than the sixth. But I think both of these juvenile races are quite competitive even with the presence of the scary First Samurai in the Juvenile.
I had to look back at my own blog post to recall why I’m so gung-ho on betting against Folklore in the Juvenile Fillies. Her running lines sure do look good, suggesting the possibility that she’s a filly that blossomed in the Matron and is capable of repeating or exceeding that performance in the Breeders’ Cup. So I took a peek back at my account of what I’d witnessed:
Folklore’s 14 length win in the Matron is going to look good in the Form on Breeders Cup day, and should attract a lot of money. If that’s the case, then there’s at least one favorite I’ll be betting against that day..... I watched from midstretch as she came home widening her lead under urging, I took a peek at the rest of the field, and they looked like a bunch of drunken sailors, absolutely staggering towards the wire. That field was finished, and it was more a matter of everyone stopping cold then Folklore sprinting away from them.OK, now I remember. That was also the race in which favored India slammed her head in the gate and backed up to last. As for Adieu, she’s unbeaten except for the Adirondack, and Pletcher says she didn’t like the track that day. [He explained on TVG today that the track was lightly scraped the track in anticipation of a thunder storm and that Velasquez came back and said 'you can throw the race out..she didn't handle the track.'] A young filly is always entitled to a bad day. She's a bit light in the Beyers, and she didn’t exactly fly the last eighth when winning the Frizette.
So I think it's time for an upset in the Juvenile Filles; the favorite has won three years in a row (Sweet Catomine, Halfbridled, Storm Flag Flying), and I don't believe that either Adieu nor Folklore are nearly as imposing as any of those three were at the time. I think there are several intriguing fillies in here that can upset. Unfortunately, one of them, the British import Ann Summers Gold, was injured and scratched (as was Dressed to Kill).
I’ve mentioned Wild Fit (Wild Wonder) on several occasions. She ran second at 1-2 in the Oak Leaf to Diamond Omi; that was a two turn race in which she was closer to the pace than her two one-turn wins, and she had no real excuse to not catch the winner. But she could love the one turn Belmont route, and with a contested pace her late kick should be more effective here. Jeff Mullins, who I read somewhere claim that he’s never been to Belmont Park, put Wild Fit in a detention barn at Santa Anita for six hours the other day to get her used to it. Mullins knows exactly where to find the detention barns there.
Original Sin (Distorted Humor) won the Lassie at Arlington, run at a mile around one turn, by 4 ¼ lengths and picks up an enthusiastic Jerry Bailey.
"She got slammed leaving there and then Gary [Stevens] and Ex Caelis got the jump on her, opened four or five, and she came out and around and ran her down, so the Lassie Stakes was visually very impressive. Put that together with what I thought was a pretty good work [a bullet 6f in 1:12 4/5 breezing], and I'm excited about her.” [">Daily Racing Form]Sensation (Dixie Union) was beaten rather soundly by the two prospective favorites in the Spinaway. Stanley Hough said that she “bobbled a little bit, lost position.” It was her only loss and she bounced back to win the Astarita. She’s never been further than seven furlongs and will have to stretch out a bit.
But I think a filly that could really be under the radar is Keeneland Kat. This filly won her first two races at Monmouth very impressively, drawing away while closing in real racehorse time. She stormed home by six in her maiden victory at five furlongs, getting the final eighth in :12 1/5. Then, jumping right up to stakes company, she got off to a slow start in the Sorority, spotting the field a dozen lengths according to her trainer Kelly Breen. But she rallied steadily, eventually drawing away to win by 2 ½, and her final eighth of :12 1/5 was faster than the previous one of :12 3/5.
So it was no surprise that she was well-backed at 9-2 in the Frizette, in which she finished third, nearly seven lengths behind Adieu. Her four wide move on the Belmont turn was to no avail on that day. However, that race was in the slop, and perhaps she just didn’t like it. Joe Bravo said after the race, "It's a shame she lost so much ground breaking from the 9-hole, but she never gave up the bit.” [Bloodhorse]
With drier footing and a more ground-saving trip, this could be a filly who could start the Breeders’ Cup day off with a bang; the Form has her listed at 30-1. The daughter of Hennessy (Storm Cat) out of an Ogygian mare is a complete outcross through five generations, is a half to two six-figure earners, and her second dam is CCA Oaks winner Valley Victory.
- OK, here’s a case against First Samurai. He’s good, no doubt. But in his two Grade 1 wins, he’s been able to sit behind a willing target in Henny Hughes, a colt who maybe, just maybe, hit his distance limit when he tried to go beyond six furlongs. First Samurai’s final fractions have been extremely slow – 14 seconds in the Hopeful, and :27 1/5 in the Champagne, when he benefited by sitting behind an absurd early pace. Granted, he had to throw in a :21 4/5 quarter just to track the Champagne pace, so it’s perfectly understandable that he tired. Still, he hasn’t been hooked and made to run in the stretch by anyone with the quality shown by some he’ll face in the Juvenile, such as..
Private Vow (Broken Vow), who is a half length from being unbeaten himself, has shown steady Beyer improvement, culminating with a “when asked, ridden out” win in the Futurity at Belmont. He has to stretch out a bit from seven furlongs. Jerry Bailey has been on for all of his three wins and remember he described himself as “torn” between he and First Samurai.
There’s Stevie Wonderboy, who looked like Don’t Get Mad on one of his good days when he won the Del Mar Futurity, though apparently, the Beyer boys weren’t that impressed. He’s also stretching out and he hasn’t had a race since Sept 7. The unfortunately named Dawn of War (Catienus) has three wins and three seconds in six starts and comes off a Grade 1 win. Ivan Denisovich (Danehill) is a guess having only raced on the dirt, but her dam Hollywood Wildcat won the Distaff. The pedigree of the other European here, Leo (Pivotal), looks more suited to turf. And there’s also Henny Hughes (Hennessy), who perhaps will improve for trainer Kieran McLaughlin.
But I’m still way impressed with the effort of Sorcerer’s Stone in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. He’s also undefeated, in three starts, with Private Vow among his victims. He was three wide for the whole one-turn mile at Arlington, moved to the lead on the turn with little effort and just left the field for dead when set down in the stretch; Mark Guidry indicated afterwards that there was more in the tank. He got his final quarter in 24 flat after going :24 4/5 prior, so it was no illusion in this case when it seemed as if Sorcerer’s Stone had shifted into another gear. First Samurai hasn’t faced a horse that can kick home like that, and I think he could give the favorite all he can handle and prevent him from becoming the first favorite to win the Juvenile since 1997, when Favorite Trick, trained by Sorcerer Stone’s trainer Patrick Byrne, scored at 6-5 with Pat Day. Sorcerer's Stone is by Gulch, who won the Sprint in 1988, out of a mare by Slew O'Gold.
- Those losing Juvenile favorites include Easy Goer, who was second to Is It True at 3-10 in 1987, and Officer, crushed at 7-10 when Johannesburg won here in 2001.