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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Luck of the Draw

Barring 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.


As 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.


Since 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 very fast.


Keep note of that route, almost last to first.


So, 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.


In 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.


Choosing 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.


But, 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.


In 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 up front.


The 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.


Now 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.


In 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?


Good 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?


A final look and some comments about this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field: 



1  Smarty's Echo A. Smith E.T. Baird 20-1
Last out: 2nd Breeder's Futurity. First time on dirt, must prove he can respond to the speed out front  
2  Dance With Fate P. Eurton R. Bejarano 8-1
2nd place in FrontRunner/Del Mar Futurity. Outside chance to hit the board, training well at SA
3  Mexikoma R. Mettee A. Garcia 12-1
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 B. Baffert M. Garcia 8-1
Unraced since MSW win on 8/31 at Del Mar. Beat Bond Holder there, at SA since, training well on dirt
5  Bond Holder D. O'Neill M. Gutierrez 6-1
Made a statement with win in the FrontRunner but closing splits were slow. Will need to finish stronger
6  Tap It Rich B. Baffert M. Smith 6-1
1st win/race was impressive: 1 Mile at SA - 1:36.78 on 10/8. Good enough to compete, enough to win?
7  Cleburne D. Romans C. Nakatani 12-1
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 M. Casse E. Da Silva 30-1
Failed to prove much in his first graded stakes (5th - Breeder's Futurity) may not be ready for 2 turns
9  Rum Point D. O'Neill E. Maldanado 30-1
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 T. Pletcher J. Castellano 8-1
Impressive score in Breeders' Futurity. Slow time but he may be ready to contend against a faster pace
11  Medal Count D. Romans R. Albarado 20-1
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 P. Biancone J. Leparoux 12-1
Returns to SA after finishing 2nd in Zuma Beach. Pace was hot but was on the turf. Dirt debut for DB. 
13  Havana T. Pletcher J. Velazquez 5-2
Highest speed figures in the field and with this speed, he deserves to be the ML favorite
14  Strong Mandate D.W. Lukas J. Rosario 6-1
Has to find the form that led to a solid score in the Hopeful. Far outside post makes it tough



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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Luck of the Draw...

It is hard to compare any of these horse to Arazi, he could of won that race giving the others a head start. It will be tough for both the outside horses but they might just be good enough, I'm not sure about the California horses yet. This might be one of those races where you should look for a longshot winner, I like Cleburne a little, he might be worth a bet if the odds are right.
An O'Neil hors wins this one
Tough to win from out in the 13 and 14 holes. How about the other Pletcher in here, We Miss Artie, for the Ramseys!

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


Likewise, the first Saturday in May was always a celebrated family event. In 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and since, I have made it an annual tradition because there’s no other city, or weekend, in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are earned. 



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