Corniche motors to victory in the BC Juvenile
The pace was the place to be on Future Stars Friday, with Corniche following in the gate-to-wire footsteps of Twilight Gleaming and Echo Zulu when producing a dominant display to win the BC Juvenile, in the process underlining his impeccable credentials to be champion two-year-old colt.
In a race diminished by the late scratch of morning-line favourite Jack Christopher, jockey Mike Smith had to work hard to get 7-5 favourite Corniche to the lead from the outside post, but the son of Quality Road had the call round the clubhouse turn and towed the field along at what race-caller Larry Collmus described as a “hot pace”.
It didn’t look as though it had been hot enough as they circled the turn, with barnmate Pinehurst, Pappacap and Giant Game all queuing up to lay down a challenge, but Smith shook the reins at his mount and Corniche put them all away in style, keeping on strongly in late stretch to win by a couple of lengths in a time of 1:42.50. Pappacap held off Giant Game for the place spot, with Commandperformance in fourth.
The victory was the fifth in the race for trainer Bob Baffert, tying him all-time with Wayne Lukas for Juvenile winners, while veteran jockey Mike ‘Big Money’ Smith has now won a record 27 races at the Breeders’ Cup.
The result was a mirror image of the Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita last month, in which Corniche had led all the way to beat Pappacap. In normal circumstances Corniche, now unbeaten in three starts, would now be favourite for next year’s Kentucky Derby, but at present horses trained by Baffert are ineligible for the ‘Run for the Roses’.