Happy Future Stars Friday!

Welcome to Future Stars Friday – we have five Breeders’ Cup race today featuring two year old fillies and colts. I’ll tackle the Juvenile and Juvenile Turf.


Race 9 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Grade I

One Mile and a Sixteenth on the Dirt for Two Year Olds

Remember that this race finishes at the first finish line which tends to benefit horses on or near the lead while making it more difficult for closers since most of the late runners are trained to move in the stretch rather than on the turn.

The Runners

1. Hurricane J: Stretches out to a route of ground after two sprint wins to begin his career including a win over this track. Figs are lacking but he is certainly eligible for improvement in just his third career start. Should be sent from the rail and that might get him caught up with other speed. Not today.

2. Congruent: Won the Laurel Futurity over a sloppy track last out with a 69 Beyer. Stalker should get a decent trip from this post, but he is overmatched. Passing.

3. Cave Rock: Odds on favorite on the morning line and has been super impressive for Baffert in all three starts. He has crushed all three field whiles posting two triple digit Beyers and winning two Grade 1s. All three of his Beyers are higher than any fig run by any of the other runners. He should get some company up front today in the form of Hurricane J and National Treasure. The Pick.

4. Forte: Pletcher trained Violence colt is three for four should be stalking the early pace. Won over the track in the Breeders’ Futurity last month (92 Beyer) in a tight one. Two back he was much the best in the Hopeful at the Spa (92 Beyer) where he bested Gulfport in a nice stretch duel after sitting off the pace. Will need an improvement to catch Cave Rock. Contender.

5. Verifying: Nice colt by Justify won at first asking at the Spa (85 Beyer) and followed that up with a decent second in the slop in the Champagne at the Big A (86 Beyer). Had the best trip of the group that day but didn’t show the same turn of foot late as Blazing Sevens came flying in the last sixteenth. Should be tracking the leaders today. Improvement needed to contend. Possible.

6. Blazing Sevens: Came from off the pace in the Champagne and got rolling in the final sixteenth for the win (91 Beyer). First finish line will make it a bit more difficult to successfully use that running style. I think last time was the time. Slop may have helped that day as well. Going to pass.

7. Wound Up: Moves turf to dirt for Mike McCarthy as he was outclassed in two turf stakes efforts this Fall in California. Mendelssohn only has a 7% winning percentage with dirt routers from a small sample and the dam has not thrown decent dirt routers. Looking elsewhere.

8. Lost Ark: Last out in the Breeders’ Futurity he got shuffled back at the start and had a lot of ground to make up. He came running when asked and kept after it all the way to the wire getting up for a distant sixth. That performance was way better than it looks on paper. Look for him to be sitting closer and make a late run. Trainer/Jockey Stat: Pletcher/Luis Saez runners have won at a 39% clip over the past three years at Keeneland with a $3.15 ROI and 66% in the money finishes. Longshot possibilities.

9. Curly Jack: Won the Iroquois last out at Churchill Downs (79 Beyer) and will need a significant Beyer boost to contend – but he did show he can get the distance. Lean against.

10. National Treasure: The “Other” Baffert draws the outside post and this one is plenty quick as well. Broke his maiden at first asking and came back to run a good second behind stablemate Cave Rock in the American Pharoah at Santa Anita (97 Beyer). Blinkers go ON. Will likely take position just off Cave Rock and if that one falters – Johnny V knows what to do. Hits the board.

Picks 3-10-4-8


Race 10 – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – Grade I

One Mile for on the Turf for Two Year Olds


1. Victoria Road: Aiden O’Brien enters this off of three wins in Europe including a Group 3 at Chantilly six weeks ago. Looks to be the real deal and has hit his stride after a slow start to his career. Trainer Stat: Aiden O’Brien is 5% (4/73) in North American races over the past four years. Two of those wins were by Santa Barbara. Maybe underneath.

2. Packs a Wahlop: Winner of three straight in California is an improving colt that can handle the mile distance and can win on the lead or by pressing the pace. Inside draw will allow him to sit in behind the early speed and make a move when the opportunity provides it. Potential.

3. Curly Larry and Mo: Longshot runner broke his maiden last out over this turf course but appears overmatched in his first stakes attempt. Might be part of the front end. Know him early.

4. Silver Knott: Won last out at Newmarket in the Autumn Stakes by sitting in behind the leaders and tipping out to win by a comfortable long neck. Had a similar trip three back in winning the Solario Stakes at Sandown Park. He looks like he might hang a bit when he gets to the lead so they will look to sit and make a late move. William Buick stays here for Charlie Appleby. Experienced runner who is tactical and has shown the ability to rate and move when asked. The Pick.

5. Battle of Normandy: Got a bit of a wide trip last out in the Pilgrim (56 Beyer) but the soft going may have worn him down as he was flat in the stretch. The bad news is that even if he rebounds to the form of his first two races he is well below what is needed here. Looking elsewhere.

6. Andthewinneris: Last out he won the Bourbon Stakes over this course in emphatic fashion where Prat had to take back from post twelve to avoid being hung six wide. That approach worked because he got some pace in front of him to close into and he rolled by the leaders down the middle of the track. Got stuck behind a slow pace two back in the With Anticipation and couldn’t finish off a longshot winner who got the jump on the field. Picks up Rosario. Legit threat.

7. Really Good: Ran behind Andthewinneris and Reckoning Force in his two stakes tries this Fall. He ran well enough but was a notch below those – speed figs are low. Would be a big surprise.

8. I’m Very Busy: Broke his maiden impressively at the Spa (73 Beyer) and was wide in the Pilgrim finishing a decent second. May not have preferred the soft going at Aqueduct last time. Speed figs are light, but he can improve back on firmer ground and his third career start. Could surprise.

9. Nagirroc: Won his last two sprinting at Aqueduct this Fall going six furlongs. Graham Motion stretches this colt to a mile and two turns today. Should be part of the pace – but can he get the distance? To be determined. Lean against.

10. Webslinger: Is entered here off a win in the Nownownow at Monmouth where he swept by the field in that overnight stakes affair to break his maiden. 80 Beyer first time routing is encouraging and maybe two turns on the turf is what he always wanted. Logical longshot to fill out exotics.

11. Reckoning Force: Blinkers go ON for this Brendan Walsh trainee who was well beaten in the local prep for this race. Blinkers move will try to get him more involved early. Not today.

12. Mo Stash: Broke his maiden first out at sprinting on the turf at Ellis Park. Tries two turns for the first time here. Appears to be up against it from this outside post. Toss.

13. Major Dude: Winner of the Pilgrim last out at Aqueduct over soft going (76 Beyer) where he outdueled I’m Very Busy in the stretch in his first career turf race. Outside post is a tough spot to win from and he will need a Beyer fig jump of over 20 points to contend. Irad/Pletcher. Don’t think so.

14. Gaslight Dancer: Broke his maiden at seven panels and then cutback to six in the Futurity at Aqueduct earning a 82 Beyer as he lost by a neck finishing behind Nagirroc. Early speed at best.

Picks 4-10-1-6