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2012 BC Juvenile: A New FrontRunner in the West

 

Bob Baffert has done it again. Power Broker, the 2-yr-old son of Pulpit and Shop Again romped home en route to a runaway victory of 6 ½ lengths in the $250,000 G1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. The win extends Baffert’s record to six wins in this Stakes race and automatically qualifies Power Broker for a spot in the upcoming 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

 

There’s no other judgment, Power Broker made it look easy without a challenger down the stretch. His sweeping move around the turn was commanding and he left the field racing for 2nd. So, how dominant was this win and where does it now rank him in regards to the list of contenders that will be vying for the Juvenile just four weeks from now. By all accounts, he now has my vote as the new leader on the West Coast. This is a discussion that could be up for debate so let me just roll out my reasons and note why this win impressed me as much as it did.

 
 
The main takeaways that make Power Broker my #1 ranked west coast Juvenile contender is: 1. His handle on dirt – 2. The two turn experience – 3. Trained by Bob Baffert.
 
 
Bob Baffert has enjoyed much success over the years at many different tracks and of course many different racing surfaces. But of all of his victories and accomplishments the dirt is where he has scored the most.
 
 
There’s always handicapping speculation at this time of year at Santa Anita. No matter the race, the form still presents the same question in almost every race. Which horse can make the switch from the Del Mar synthetics to the Santa Anita dirt?
 
 
Power Broker began his career at Del Mar where he went 0 for 3. Baffert’s decision to keep his horses on the ground and on the Southern California racing circuit paid off for Power Broker. His dirt debut answered all of the questions convincingly and he demonstrated that dirt racing was the probably plan the entire time. I think it’s obvious that Baffert knew this horse would thrive on the dirt but not everyone is always convinced until they see it. On Saturday we did and I think the proof was there.
 
 
Although Power Broker didn’t win the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf, his 2nd place finish to Dry Summer was a very solid shift in the right direction. That race was run at a distance of 1 Mile and proved to be a very significant prep. It was apparent that he raced comfortably this past weekend at 1 1/16 and it now has him ready to come back at that distance in the Juvenile.
 
 
Finally, even in the slightest, the Baffert bias that has to be recognized as an advantage. He’s the most successful trainer out west and he knows Santa Anita better than most. He operates from there, he stables there and most of all he wins there. So, when you combine these with the Breeders’ Cup being hosted there, it’s hard not to recognize the advantage
 
 
Before we go into the FrontRunner competition that may be back for the Juvenile, let’s stay with Baffert. There is an additional 2-yr-old in his barn that equals Power Broker’s potential or possibly exceeds it. That of course is Rolling Fog, the undefeated colt who also scored an automatic Breeders’ Cup Juvenile qualifier in the G1 Del Mar Futurity. However, he will not be back in time for the Juvenile. Diagnosed with Bucked Shins, Baffert and Zayat Stables elected to rest him from racing for at least 60 days which puts him on the sidelines until after the Juvenile. The reason I highlight this other potential star is because I’m not sure if I can rank Power Broker ahead of Rolling Fog. But since we know who’s entering the Juvenile and who’s not, Power Broker gets the nod.  
 
For more on Power Broker's Pedigree Click Here 
 
 
Before the injury of Rolling Fog was announced, an exciting rematch in the FrontRunner was highly anticipated. After winning the G2 Best Pal Stakes in the first race of his career, Know More returned for the Del Mar Futurity. Although he was game, Rolling Fog simply outperformed. Know More made it through and returned to his barn in great condition which set him up to keep it going in the FrontRunner Stakes.
 
 
For the second straight race, however, Know More couldn’t make the needed moves through the final turn before hanging on for 2nd. Going into this race Know More was getting the most exposure out west. Nearly all of it was well earned but his performance on Saturday in the FrontRunner is what leads me to ranking him behind Power Broker.
 
 
The number one thing I saw in this horse in his first two races that I didn’t see over the weekend was a style or racing that I prefer. Both races prior were only through one turn but Jockey Garrett Gomez was still able to settle him in off the pace in close stalking position. What this allowed them to do was get a good feel for the pace out front and work beautifully from there. Even though Rolling Fog got away from him, Know More looked like he had ample fuel left in the tank and could have made a serious run if the distance was at least 1 Mile.
 
 
On Saturday he ran completely different. In both of his previous races Know More got out of the gate clean but raced no better than 5th through the opening quarter. In the FrontRunner Stakes he broke sharply to the front before Carving got by him along the rail through the opening turn. But he didn’t give way easily and 2nd place is where Gomez kept him for the remainder of the race. They weren’t suicide fractions out front – 23.19; 47.53; 1:12.45; 1:37.89 – but they were still too quick for Know More to hold pace with Power Broker through the stretch.
 
 
You can never stay it enough; 2-yr-olds are very vulnerable for unpredictable results. Know More didn’t race his best but it doesn’t discredit his chances for getting back on track in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Remember, he still hasn’t raced worse than 2nd in three lifetime graded stakes races. That proves a lot but his transfer to the dirt at Santa Anita didn’t go as planned and Power Broker was lights out. It's not a knock against Know More's connections but I can only work from what I’ve seen recently. By that, Power Broker is the new leader of the pack on the West Coast.
 
 
Finally, congrats to Rafael Bejarano who scored his first ever FrontRunner Stakes (or Norfolk Stakes) win. He came back from what appeared to be a serious fall the day before without any noticeable signs of injury. If he didn’t make it clear that he was fine I think by the end of the day and four wins later, Bejarano proved his durability. Great Ride! Watch out for Bejarano and Baffert who teamed up for three of those wins, all three graded stakes. 
 

 

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Older Comments about 2012 BC Juvenile: A New FrontRunner in the West...

*Power Broker had trained on the dirt previously, not run. My bad.
I would still give Know More a chance. Winning a graded stakes the first time out and placing 2nd in two grade 1 races is nothing to sneeze at. I think as long as he continues to train on the dirt, he will get better. Even Leandro Mora said that previously before the Frontrunner, Know More had not trained or raced on the dirt (while Power Broker had run on the dirt for some time). But like it was mentioned in the article, the juvenile is anyones game at this point in time.
Correct hshfarms, thanks for catching that typo
Is the Juvenile not 1 1/16th? Not a 1 1/4 as mentioned in the article?
Is the Juvenile not 1 1/16th? Not a 1 1/4 as mentioned in the article?
I don't think there was a break out star in the West (as far as juvenile males go) Untill the front runner. I think he proved to be the Western Colt star. The Eastern colts had been doing much better .. I can't wait to see them begin to race together.
In about 30 seconds, I went from disbeliever to feeling that Power Broker will be the horse to beat at the Breeders' Cup ... very impressive!

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