The countdown continues towards the 2014 Breeders’ Cup World Championships in beautiful Arcadia, California. With the post position draws complete and the morning line odds issued, the reality of the two best racing cards of the year has kicked in. Only time separates thoroughbred racing fans from Friday’s first championship race, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf for two-year old colts going one mile over the lovely Santa Anita Park lawn.
Like most races on Friday and Saturday’s cards, the 2014 Juvenile Turf presents horseplayers with several ways to go in the full field of fourteen. Today, I will separate the runners who are probably “up against it” or poor bets in Friday’s sixth race from those worth considering a wager on. Then, tomorrow I will take a closer look at the major contenders before releasing my final analysis and selections on Thursday afternoon.
While it is difficult to completely dismiss many of this year’s Juvenile Turf runners, I will try to separate those with outside chances of winning, from those that are most likely to cross the wire first. Some of these young colts are a bit outclassed in this field, while some may have had a better chance with a more favorable pace scenario or post draw. Regardless, one principle must be used as a determining factor for all wagers made on Breeders’ Cup day, the price of your horse. It is a huge mistake if value is not considered at all times over the two days of racing. Plain and simple, a horseplayer must be willing to lose to a short-priced favorite if they are bet too hard. There are just too many with chances to run well over the weekend to settle on an underlay.
There are several runners I will be “tossing” in this year’s version of the Juvenile Turf. As mentioned above, some of these colts are just not talented enough, while others will either be too short of a price to gamble on or would be better served if the race setup differently. One colt that I believe is up against on Friday is Conquest Typhoon for trainer Mark Casse and the Conquest Stables. This son of Stormy Atlantic is bred fairly well for the grass and has run well in his two turf events, but that was against significantly lesser in Canada. He will need to step his game up big time, as well as demonstrate that he can finish better at a distance of ground if he is to hit the board in this one. My bet is on him being a bit more of a Grade III runner. I expect him to fade late after being involved early.
Another runner that may take some play that seems up against it is Luck of the Kitten. This son of Kitten’s Joy is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Anura and is the fourth of six full brothers and sisters including Empire Builder who won over $220,000 in his career and won three times on the lawn. While the pedigree suggests the distance and class are not an issue, this one’s ability to finish well must be questioned, especially given the unlikelihood of making a clear, early lead. Mike Smith will take the call for the first time on this Wesley Ward/Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey entry, but will likely need to teach him new tactics if he is to win his first in his first graded stakes event.
Lawn Ranger is a long shot for Kenny McPeek that also is a pretender in the Juvenile Turf. This son of U S Ranger gets Lasix for the first time in his biggest race to date and draws the 13 post for rider Chris Landeros. The outside draw will likely force Landeros to use more horse early then he has in his previous starts and therefore compromise any long shot chance he may have had with a better draw. I am not sure he is fast enough to impact the early pace, but there is a chance he could push the pace and give a further advantage to the off the pace runners.
One of my more debatable “pretenders” for the 2014 Juvenile Turf is 3-1 morning line favorite Hootenanny. This son of Quality Road has shown both the ability to run well at the Grade I level, as well as run over the turf, but there are a few major questions that prohibit us taking a short price on the second of the uncoupled Wesley Ward entrants. Firstly, he has never gone further than six furlongs and by no means does his pedigree suggest he will improve on the stretch out. Second, this race has never been won in wire-to-wire fashion. Granted most of those on the lead early have had less talent than Hootenanny, but the makeup of the race and the course seem to be better suited for those who save ground early and come charging late. The elite connections of Tabor, Magnier, and Smith with the advice of Ward certainly believe this one can get the distance, but I will let him beat me at a short price.
Our final pretender and another runner likely to take money in Friday’s Juvenile Turf is Imperia for Kiaran McLaughlin and Godolphin Racing. This son of Medaglia d’Oro is bred as well as anyone in the race. Her dam Cocoa Beach won almost $1.75 million dollars in her racing career with wins on multiple continents and a record of 3 for 4 over the grass. His two races have both been extremely impressive including a win in Belmont Park’s Grade III Pilgrim Stakes as a maiden on September 28th. There is little doubt he has the ability on his best day to win this race, but a few things make playing this one problematic. The fact he has raced only twice and never shipped out of New York makes this a huge step up in class for him. Additionally, he draws the 11 post and will need one of Javier Castellano’s best rides to date to avoid a wide trip throughout. This colt could be as talented as any of these runners when all is said and done, but the task is too tall for him to outkick this Grade I group.
Please join me tomorrow as I take a look at some of the contenders and better value plays for Friday’s $1 million dollar event.