any last minute scratches it will be a full house in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. For the first time since 2006, 14
young and talented contenders are ready to load into the starting gate.
in every big race, the bigger the field, the more obstacles there will be. For
our two favorites one particular challenge is already in play. Winning from the far outside is never easy. If Havana or Strong Mandate, who will be starting next to each other from
post 13 and 14, want to win on Saturday, they and their jockey’s must be
prepared to race from a position they would not have chosen otherwise.
1992, the post positions that have produced the most Juvenile winners range
from 2 to 7. As for the amount of times in this span that a horse has emerged
the best after starting at or outside of post 13: Zero. The position that bares
the honor of being the furthest out since ’92 is post #12. It was accomplished
in 2005 when Stevie Wonderboy overcame an outside start by hanging back before
making his move from 12th place in a 14 horse field and finishing
note of that route, almost last to first.
while this may be a trend, I just see it as a general hurdle that has to be
cleared when the situation arises. Regardless of the race, the class that’s racing or the surface,
winning from the far outside post position is never easy and therefore less
common, especially when it’s as far out as 13 or higher. To prove that it can be
done let’s rewind to 1991.
my 20 year sample that began in 1992 there was no horse that broke outside of
the 12 hole and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In 2004, Wilko won from the far
outside post position but that year was a smaller field, only 8. However, if I were
to extend that sample back just one more year that is where you would meet
Arazi. It was a packed house of 14 that day at Churchill Downs and Arazi had
his hooves full. Despite the luck of the draw on the other hand, the eventual
champion and odds on favorite was ready.
not to break hard and come across as many as he could, he laid back under Pat
Valenzuela and raced next to last before making his move along the back
stretch. From there he kicked it into high gear and began to pick them off one
by one before running away to win by 5.
that was then. So, what about the odds of that occurring again in 2013? The
first question I have is if Strong Mandate can conquer this field from that
far back. The main reason I ask myself that is because he finished in the same position
that he started from in the nine horse Champagne Stakes: 7th. Prior,
he was out of the gate racing in 3rd before grabbing the lead at the
stretch in the Hopeful and clearing the field by 9.
the two races before, both MSW, it was almost the exact same. When he won he was
on the lead at the ¼ pole and when he finished 5th he was second to
last at the ¼ and 3/8 mark. Therefore, he’s obviously shown he likes to be
second question I have is if Strong Mandate’s strategy and instruction by D.
Wayne Lukas will be to break aggressively and come across the track as quickly
as possible. If so, will he expend too much energy and will he and Joel Rosario
find the position that they want.
it’s onto a little bit better of a position. Or, is it? In my opinion 13 is
just as bad as 14 if not worse. Regardless, it’s still not an ideal place for
Havana, Todd Pletcher or John Velazquez.
his first two starts Havana made it a priority to get to the front. In his first
career race, a 5 ½ furlong MSW sprint at Saratoga, Havana broke from the 1
post, took the lead and stayed there. Next was the Champagne. Here Havana broke
very clean from the starting gate and nestled along the rail just behind Debt
Ceiling to his near outside. He liked it there and was in the best ground saving position possible
to hold off a late and furious rally by Honor Code.
Just like Strong Mandate I have the same questions for Havana. Can he win if he doesn’t break well enough to get on or near the lead? Will he be able to hang
on if he does?
questions and quite the task for both of our top two choices on the morning line. It will be tough but more times than not the best horse always wins. Arazi was a very good Juvenile and not even post position #14 could deny him the win. Will same be true for either of these two?
final look and some comments about this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field:
|1 Smarty's Echo
|Last out: 2nd Breeder's Futurity. First time on
dirt, must prove he can respond to the speed out front
|2 Dance With Fate
|2nd place in FrontRunner/Del Mar Futurity. Outside
chance to hit the board, training well at SA
|Much the best (14 lengths) last time out in MSW at
Delaware Park. Is he ready for Grade 1 stakes?
|4 New Year's Day
|Unraced since MSW win on 8/31 at Del Mar. Beat
Bond Holder there, at SA since, training well on dirt
|5 Bond Holder
|Made a statement with win in the FrontRunner but
closing splits were slow. Will need to finish stronger
|6 Tap It Rich
|1st win/race was impressive: 1 Mile at SA -
1:36.78 on 10/8. Good enough to compete, enough to win?
|Likes the dirt, 2 for 2 with most recent being the
Iroquois. Hasn't seen a race with this much speed yet
|8 Conquest Titan
||E. Da Silva
|Failed to prove much in his first graded stakes
(5th - Breeder's Futurity) may not be ready for 2 turns
|9 Rum Point
|Yet to race on dirt. Did he wait too long or does
it matter? Missed in 2 AWT graded stakes (4th - 9th)
|10 We Miss Artie
|Impressive score in Breeders' Futurity. Slow time
but he may be ready to contend against a faster pace
|11 Medal Count
|Didn't beat much on dirt in his MSW win before
finishing 5th in Bourbon/AWT. Don't see him as a factor
|12 Diamond Bachelor
|Returns to SA after finishing 2nd in Zuma Beach.
Pace was hot but was on the turf. Dirt debut for DB.
|Highest speed figures in the field and with this
speed, he deserves to be the ML favorite
|14 Strong Mandate
|Has to find the form that led to a solid score in
the Hopeful. Far outside post makes it tough|