no way is this is a promissory note or tip from the backside but the numbers
don’t lie, so it may be wise to take this information into consideration.
California Horses tend to race better when they remain grounded inside the luxurious
confines of Southern California. When you think about it, there can be a lot of
reasonable arguments as to why this may be. We could go on and on about why
certain elements play a big in role in that logic but that will be left out for
now. As for the two-year-olds, what
we will discuss is that California runners have great odds of finding the winners circle when the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is hosted in California.
- Breeders’ Cup’s in California since the inaugural
in 1984: 8
- Of the 8 - Juveniles won by a horse whose
last race was in CA: 6 (75%)
- Breeders’ Cup’s Hosted by Santa Anita: 5
- Of the 5 - Juveniles won by a horse whose
last race was at SA: 4 (80%)
let’s dig a little deeper and break these numbers down. Let’s start by
rewinding back to the very first Breeders’ Cup in 1984. Of course this age in
racing has long since passed but is not always forgotten. Back then horses ran a
much more aggressive schedule and often notched between 3 to 4 races in only a
four week period. In 1984 the eventual Juvenile Champion didn’t start his
career in California but he eventually migrated west.
Crown’s career rocketed when he scored back to back wins in the two prestigious
stakes for Juvenile’s at Saratoga – G2 Saratoga Special & G1 Hopeful. From
there he was off to Belmont for a 2nd place finish in the G1
Futurity followed by another win in the G1 Cowdin. Since the inaugural
Breeders’ Cup was being held at Hollywood Park his connections, Star Crown
Stable and Trainer Roger Laurin, decided on a final prep out west, the G1 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita.
scoring there, Chief’s Crown would return just 21 days later at Hollywood to
win the very first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile along with Canadian Jockey and Horse
Racing Hall of Famer Don MacBeth. And so the trend began.
years later the Juvenile returned to California but it was Santa Anita that was
honored as the host for the 1986 Breeders’ Cup. Unlike Chief’s Crown the
eventual winner was nothing but a California kid.
in KY by Seattle Slew – Too Bald, Capote was under the tutelage of a rising
star trainer named D. Wayne Lukas and began his racing career at Del Mar. In
his second career start his first win was reached and a streak began. From
there Capote reeled it in at the Norfolk before he fired back to claim the
Juvenile making it 3 wins in 3 starts at Santa Anita. For the second time in as
many attempts the Norfolk winner in California became the Juvenile Champion in
following year was a combination of 1984 and 1986. The similarities to ’84 were
that for the second time, Hollywood Park would be the Breeders’ Cup host and
again it was an East Coast horse that would travel west for the Norfolk before
moving over to Hollywood to win the Juvenile.
big similarity to ’86 is that the winner, Success Express, was also trained by
D. Wayne Lukas. This time D. Wayne had his colt on the move. Success Express
began his career in August at Saratoga before making the G1 Hopeful his graded
stakes debut (3rd). After that
he found his rhythm and scored back to back graded wins (Canterbury Juvenile –
Sport of Kings Futurity) before heading west for his final prep.
is where the big difference between ’87 vs. ’84 & ’86 occurred but one
thing remained the same. Although Success Express wasn’t game enough to win the
Norfolk (4th) he still had enough to come roaring back and steal the
Juvenile. The accomplishment proved that a Norfolk win was not a crucial factor
for a Juvenile victory but that racing in California immediately before was.
the end of the ’87 Breeders’ Cup it was time for the East Coast to become a
bigger player. Over the next 5 years it would bounce between Churchill Downs,
Gulfstream Park and Belmont before eventually coming back to Santa Anita in
1993 for the 10th Breeders’ Cup.
this is where things got even more interesting. In the previous 9 years the eventual
Juvenile Champion came into the Breeders’ Cup directly from a Graded Stakes.
But as we’ve seen over the years the Juvenile age is always so interesting
because you just never know when to expect the unexpected. What else is so appealing
is that this story was very Hollywood.
- Does this name sound familiar? If you’re not picking up on it the horse’s
name was short for his owner’s last name, Albert R. Broccoli - producer of the
legendary James Bond films. After purchasing the Florida bred colt by Kris S
and Anytime Ms he was brought back to California where his racing career began.
a win in his debut at Del Mar, Brocco hopped over to Santa Anita for an
Allowance race 5 weeks later. Following a dominating performance with Gary
Stevens in the irons trainer Randy Winick had seen enough and sent him straight
to the Juvenile, his first ever Graded Stakes and only his 3rd
career race. And that was that because he stormed home to win and California remained
a trendy place to be racing before a Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
2003, the fickleness of 2-yr-olds lit the tote board up in the Juvenile. This
time it was not only a non-graded stakes winner that stole the show but a horse
that had only two Maiden races on his chart. But that was all that Action this
Day and David Flores needed as they won the Juvenile going away. The kicker was
the payout: $55.60 - $19.20- $11.00. A long shot winner indeed but he was also
just another California kid that had a nose for the Santa Anita dirt.
it’s on to 2008, the first year that Santa Anita would host with its new All
Weather Track in place of the traditional dirt. You didn’t think we would go
through a California trend without mentioning Bob Baffert did you? No way. In
his barn was the highly regarded Midshipman, winner of two out of three races
coming in – MSW and Del Futurity. His only loss was a close 2nd to
Street Hero in the Norfolk but the next time they met was when Midshipman
settled the score and California won again.
this prove that racing in California immediately prior to the Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile in California is a decision that pays off? Again, if you add them up
it’s happened six out of eight times and when both races were at Santa Anita
it’s happened four out of five times.
fascinating is that if you look back at the two years that this trend didn’t
hold true, a California horse still finished in the money. In 1997 Favorite
Trick foiled the fad for the very first time. He raced in the Bluegrass State
and at Saratoga before shipping west to keep his undefeated streak alive. There
were three horses that raced in California prior including Nationalore who
there was a close finish in 2009, the most recent Breeders’ Cup on the West
Coast and the last that would feature an All Weather Track at Santa Anita. In a
thrilling stretch duel the European Vale of York (IRE) held off Lookin’ at
Lucky at the wire by a head. Lookin at Lucky had already raced and won on the
synthetics so that was not a factor. A late bump on the other hand may have
cost him. But even though he missed the California play was still a smart one.
Golden State has produced nothing less for horses that prepped there prior to
entering the Juvenile there. Based on these numbers it would be wise to keep an
eye on the Norfolk Stakes next weekend (9/29) and not rule out any California
Maiden or Allowance winners that will be making the Juvenile their very first
Graded Stakes. Things are heating up as the Juvenile approaches and we begin to
analyze who will be the odds on favorite for becoming the next California Star.