Thursday, October 27, 2011

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

In its fifth running, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf will be a grade one race for the first time. We haven’t seen a superstar come out of the race yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one emerges this year. The race is full of talented colts this year, including horses that could have a future either on dirt or turf.
Here are my top four picks for the Juvenile Turf:
1. Finale: After finishing third and fourth in two maiden special weights on the dirt, the Todd Pletcher two-year-old switched to the turf. The son of grade one winner Scat Daddy relished the grass in his turf debut, romping by 5 ¾ lengths. Running just off the pace, Finale took the lead with about a furlong to go, finishing the final furlong in 11:55 seconds for a final time of 1:08.70 for six furlongs.
The bay colt made his stakes debut in his next start, dominantly winning the Continental Mile Stakes over the Monmouth Park turf course by 10 ½ lengths. In his third start over the turf, which was also his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, Finale broke slowly and battled down the stretch to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the Summer Stakes (GIII) at Woodbine. Todd Pletcher has been working the colt at a half-mile distance over a dirt track at Belmont Park. The colt, who obviously loves the turf, arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday with the rest of Todd Pletcher’s string. Though overshadowed by stablemates such as Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, Finale has a good chance to make a name for himself.

2. State of Play: Last year, Team Valor International-owned Pluck won this race. Now, their colt State of Play is looking to make it a repeat for them. The colt by War Front has only raced twice, but both of those starts have been wins.
A fever kept him from running in what was supposed to be his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, but the flashy bay colt has been training well for Graham Motion. His most recent work was a five furlong breeze over Keeneland’s synthetic track, in which he turned in a time of 1:01.60. The colt is undoubtedly bred for the turf, as his sire War Front has sired successful turf horses such as Soldat and Summer Soiree. He has not raced since the beginning of September, but I believe he has plenty of raw talent to be competitive. Check out the Juvenile Spotlight I wrote about him at:
3. Dullahan: The half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Mine That Bird has this race as first preference over the Juvenile. The son of Even the Score is coming into the Breeders’ Cup off a win in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) over Majestic City at Keeneland. The race was on the synthetic, which is quite similar to turf.
The chestnut broke his maiden in that race, as the best he had finished prior to the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity was second. In his final start before his grade one victory, Dullahan finished third to State of Play in the With Anticipation Stakes (GII) at Saratoga. I don’t think he can match the top two, but the colt is improving and will be a factor on race day.
4. Majestic City: The chestnut colt, who made a name for himself in southern California over the summer by winning three straight races, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (GIII), has lost his last two starts. However, they both have been very good performances.
At the beginning of September, Majestic City crossed the wire in second to Drill in the Del Mar Futurity (GI), but was disqualified to third for bumping with Creative Cause. He made his final start before the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, finishing second to Dullahan.
With two wins at Hollywood Park and a good second place finish at Keeneland, Majestic City has a very good record on synthetic surfaces, which as mentioned, are often similar to turf. On October 22, Majestic City worked over the Santa Anita turf, turning in a half-mile work in the time of 47.60 to record a bullet work. His connections decided to enter him in the Juvenile Turf.
The colt’s sire, City Zip, is a tremendous turf sire, having sired talented turf horses such as Get Serious and Unzip Me. All signs suggest that Majestic City will have no problem with running on the turf. Don’t forget about this colt on race day; he has a lot to offer, including one of the most important qualities: heart.

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