The first day of the Breeders Cup at Keeneland on Friday concludes with the two big races of the year for two-year-old males, with the feature G1 Juvenile bringing together west-coast star Cave Rock and east-coast ace Forte in an enthralling clash of running styles. That’s backed up by the G1 Juvenile Turf, in which European raiders Silver Knott and Victoria Road meet a strong home defense led by I’m Very Busy, Major Dude, and Andthewinneris. Here is the Breeders Cup Juvenile Futurebook!
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
G1, $2,000,000, 1m 1/16 main track, 2yo males, Friday 5pm ET
There is a dash of deja vu about the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, an echo of last year when Bob Baffert brought an unbeaten favorite in Corniche and the race went to form. Now there’s another Baffert-trained heavy favorite, another unbeaten potential superstar . . . so can anything stop Cave Rock (4-5)?
He has won all his three races from the front and by daylight, taking the G1 Del Mar Futurity before heading north to dominate the G1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita over a mile-sixteenth, opening up in the stretch to get it done by five and a quarter lengths from barn mate National Treasure (8-1), who followed him all the way around but could never engage. There may be even more in the locker – it’s hard to tell given the ease with which Cave Rock has been winning – and he could be lethal if getting loose on the lead.
If Cave Rock is the best in the west, Forte (4-1) is the beast from the east and also has two G1 wins on his record, the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga over seven furlongs on a wet track and then the Breeders’ Futurity over this course and distance, coming from midpack as usual and very determined in the stretch to hold on by a neck, with barn mate Lost Ark (20-1), who was coming off an impressive stakes success at Monmouth Park, never a factor more than ten lengths adrift in sixth.
Cave Rock will lead, and Forte will close. Both have proven stamina and it may depend on how close Forte can sit before delivering his challenge, neither too far back nor too close to the speed. Fine judgment is needed from Irad Ortiz.
Hopeful third Blazing Sevens (6-1) then claimed his own G1 victory in the Champagne at Aqueduct over a mile, dominant on a sloppy track, causing a mild upset when running down well-touted maiden winner Verifying (10-1) in the last sixteenth to score by three and a quarter lengths.
Blazing Sevens was 12 lengths behind Forte in the Hopeful, and even allowing for the random improvement of two-year-olds has plenty to find with that horse. Indeed, Verifying could easily move up from that stakes debut on this faster surface and his home reputation makes him one to watch closely.
The remainder of the field looks up against it at this level. Curly Jack (20-1) beat a longshot in the G3 Iroquois over a mile-sixteenth at Churchill Downs and that doesn’t measure up well here; Hurricane J (30-1) makes his stakes debut after winning two sprints; Congruent (30-1) won a stakes at Laurel Park but this is a different league; Wound Up (30-1) has missed the board in both attempts at stakes level and now makes his debut on the main track.
2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Betting Pick
The unbeaten, unchallenged CAVE ROCK is hard to look away from, and there may be even more to come from this front-running sensation. The rock-solid Forte rates the main danger, while Verifying shouldn’t be underestimated.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
G1, $1,000,000, 1m turf, 2yo males, Friday 5.40pm ET
The Europeans have a fine record in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with nine wins in 15 years, and the powerhouse barns of Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien – responsible for seven of those victories – send a high quality, low-quantity invasion force against a deep home defense.
Appleby won this last year with the purse-only Modern Games and supplies a worthy favorite in Silver Knott (3-1), who has moved forward with every race – apart from a tame effort on soft ground – and ran a career-best last time to win the G3 Autumn at Newmarket over a mile. The runner-up and third filled identical positions at G1 level behind Epsom Derby favorite Auguste Rodin on their next start and the form is bulletproof.
The forecast fast ground will suit Silver Knott and he’s officially rated 9lb higher than O’Brien’s lone wolf Victoria Road (8-1), who is bidding for a four-timer after getting up in the final strides to win the G3 Conde at Chantilly over a mile-eighth. On his previous start he beat G1 winner Blue Rose Cen in a mile stakes at Deauville and will be doing plenty of good work late.
The key prep on the home front was probably the G2 Pilgrim at Aqueduct over a mile-sixteenth, in which Major Dude (10-1) made his debut on the lawn and showed considerable improvement to outrun stakes debutant I’m Very Busy (9-2) and win by a length, with Battle Of Normandy (20-1) a very disappointing seventh. If the surface switch made the difference to Major Dude then he’s likely to move up for his first experience of turf, while I’m Very Busy may not have been suited by the yielding surface and should appreciate the faster conditions here.
The Pilgrim was a stronger contest than the G2 Bourbon here over a mile-sixteenth, won with a powerful display of stretch-running by Andthewinneris (5-1), who had three and a half lengths to spare over Really Good (30-1) in third, and almost six lengths in hand of stakes-winner Reckoning Force (20-1) in seventh.
California shipper Packs A Wahlop (6-1) drew off for a comfortable win in the G3 Zuma Beach at Santa Anita over a mile, but it’s a shallower pool on turf out west and it’s hard to know what the big grey achieved in beating a longshot who was again beaten next time out. His odds are plenty skinny, while Nagirroc (20-1) stretches out beyond six furlongs for the first time after beating Gaslight Dancer (30-1) by a neck in the G3 Futurity at Aqueduct, and even if he appreciates the extra yardage he needs a career-best to even be in the mix.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Betting Prediction
Silver Knott is the best European hope, but MAJOR DUDE was impressive when winning a G2 on his turf debut and has a big chance of keeping this at home, although the horse he beat, I’m Very Busy, is another dangerous rival.
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