Breeders' Cup Juvenile 2016 Analysis

Breeders' Cup Juvenile 2016 Analysis
Photo: Keeneland

Breeders' Cup 2016 is November 4th & 5th!

Breeders' Cup 2016
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  Breeders' Cup 2016

The Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Gr.l) is always one of my favorite Breeder’s Cup races; it’s a chance to look at the prospective horses for next year’s Kentucky Derby. There is nothing more exhilarating than the Triple Crown trail, and I love being able to pick a two year old out early and watch them succeed in their sophomore career.

This year’s crop of juveniles is one of the strongest I have seen in years, making it very hard to handicap this race. There are several horses with pedigrees screaming Kentucky Derby, and a running style to match. Here is my breakdown of each horse:


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#1: Klimt: Baffert has a very strong hand at this year’s Breeder’s Cup, and Klimt is no exception. Klimt was my original favorite in this year’s crop of two year olds, he is a magnificent horse. He is the picture of maturity and strength, a fine specimen for a two year old. He was following Nyquist’s path by winning the Best Pal Stakes (Gr.ll) and the Del Mar Futurity (Gr.l) He succumbed to Gormley last time out in the Front Runner Stakes (Gr.l), but lost nothing in defeat. Gormley got out too far in front for Klimt to ever catch. In the Del Mar Futurity, Klimt showed a very nice turn of foot, and a lot of heart. He has an ideal running style, and is much more of a threat when he has the chance to look someone in the eye. He does not back down from a fight. Klimt can settle and rate, which is another important quality. He’s a very gritty colt; I expect a huge effort from him on Saturday. Quality Road, his sire, showed that he could handle distance by winning the Florida Derby and the Woodward Stakes, among others. Klimt has a strong pedigree that should allow him to do the same. Bob Baffert is very confident in his chances, and that is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  The one hole does not bother me, he’s quick enough to get out and into a good position, but also versatile enough to settle in wherever he ends up.

#2: Syndergaard: Syndergaard is such a gritty horse. He definitely likes being on the lead, and if he can learn to rate, I think he could be very dangerous next year. In the Champagne Stakes, Big Gray Rocket was pressing him the whole way as he set very fast fractions. I think a good fight has primed Syndergaard for a great effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He was game in the stretch, and refused to give up. His pedigree suggests he should be able to handle classic distances; his sire is Majestic Perfection, sire of Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria, and his grandsire is Harlan’s Holiday, a very influential sire, who won the Jockey Gold Cup. I’m sure Todd Pletcher has him cranked up and ready to run.

#3: Term of Art: Term of Art is by Tiznow, the only two time Breeders' Cup classic winner. He’s gone wide in all of his races, and never been able to get up for a win. He finally put it together to break his maiden at Santa Anita. He obviously likes the track at Santa Anita, so he has that on his side. He is facing a huge step up in class, but I don’t think he would be here if his connections were not confident in Term of Art. I think he is bred for the part, but I am not willing to jump on his band wagon quite yet. As he matures, I believe he will continue to progress.

#4: Theory: Theory is the most inexperienced horse in the field, but certainly not one to overlook. His win in the Futurity Stakes at Belmont really impressed me. He is also a late colt, born May 12th, and not as mature as others. Being so talented this early, is even more impressive. Theory likes to stalk the pace, which seems like it will be a beneficial running style for the Juvenile on Saturday. He has a great mind, and galloped out very strong after the race. He certainly looks like he will be able to handle distance. Gemologist is by Tiznow, the only horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic twice, he has classic breeding on his side as well. He’s been training well, and he’s fresh. He’s sitting on a great race.

#5: Classic Empire: Classic Empire is my pick, I think he is the total package. He looks so mature and developed for such a young horse that he’s head and shoulders above the average two year old. He is by PioneeroftheNile, best known for siring Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh, and was also a great racehorse himself. Classic Empire’s dam side is also strong; His grandsire Cat Thief won the Breeders' Cup Classic at age three. In the Bashford Manor Stakes, Classic Empire did not panic when he did not get the lead. He can settle in and rate. He put in a strong late bid to get up and roll past his competition. In the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, he stalked the pace, where he is much more comfortable and able to keep an eye on his competition. He pulled away to win impressively. The Casse team is very confident in their chances, as they should be. I can’t find any fault in this colt. He has a beautiful stride, he’s worked in company with older horses and still proved to be the best. He is clearly over his antics, as shown at Saratoga this summer, and ready to be a super horse. The sky is the limit.

#6 Three Rules: Three Rules is facing a big step up in class. He is undefeated, but has faced modest competition. I am not saying he isn’t talented, but in this group of juveniles, who are oozing with talent and class, one must be on top of their game. His pedigree is mediocre and Three Rules will really need to step up this weekend to show he belongs. He is likely to set the pace along with Syndergaard and Gormley; I think his best shot is to settle if possible and focus on a target.

#7: Gormley: Gormley is a very intriguing horse. He’s likely to go to the front, and is very dangerous on the lead. If he is allowed to open up a big lead on the rest of the field, on what will surely be a very fast track, there might be no catching this striking colt by Malibu Moon. He’s inexperienced, but greatness is certainly destined to happen with this special colt. If he’s that impressive at this stage in the game, there’s no telling how good this colt is. He’s trained by John Shireffs, best known for being the trainer of the great Zenyatta. He would not send this horse out if he did not feel very confident in his chances. His sire Malibu Moon is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, so distance should not be an issue with this colt. He loves Santa Anita, and Gormley will be very tough to beat this Saturday.

#8: Star Empire: Star Empire has a great influence on his dam’s side in Empire Maker, the 2003 Belmont Stakes winner, hopefully passing along the ability to run at longer distances. His sire was also a very successful racehorse in Australia. I think Wesley Ward is great at getting two year olds ready, and is confident in his colt’s chances. There was no catching Theory in the Futurity at Belmont, but it was definitely a horse race for second place, and Star Empire prevailed to get up for the place. Star Empire will be stalking the front runners, and could come on with a strong late kick, especially with a hot pace. He fought very hard for second, and will only improve off of that finish. A long shot worth considering.

#9 Practical Joke: Practical Joke is another horse who will just not quit. He showed a ton of heart battling against Syndergaard to win by a hair. He’s by the hot sire Into Mischief, sire of horses like Goldencents, Vyjack, and Vicar’s In Trouble. He also has a great trainer in Chad Brown, who has been on fire this year. He stalked the pace in the Hopeful Stakes, which is most likely where he will be Saturday as well. He had a bad start in the Champagne Stakes, and trailed the field; so wherever he ends up I am confident he will be comfortable and able to put in his best run. He proved to have a nice kick coming from off the pace and ran down Syndergaard and would not let him pull away. I think he will do very well if there’s a strong pace this Saturday.

#10: Not This Time: There is so much to like about this colt; He’s strong mentally and physically, he’s a half-brother to Liam’s Map, His great grandsire on his dam’s side Great Above is the sire of Holy Bull, and he’s trained by one of my favorite people in the business, Dale Romans. Not This Time has accomplished so much with such little effort. It took him a second time to break his maiden, but he certainly could not be stopped. He was away quick, set the pace, and drew away from his competition with a ton of run. He won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs with a scary ease. This time, he settled towards the back, made a four wide run at the leaders, and drew away clear to win by six, full of run. He’s bred to run, and we have not seen the best of Not This Time. He’s very versatile, I like his post position, he can break sharp and stalk the pace, or settle in behind the front runners. I think he is definitely one of the biggest threats in this race.

#11 Lookin at Lee: Lookin at Lee is an extremely consistent horse. He doesn’t run a bad race and he always puts forth a strong effort. The son of two and three year old male champion Eclipse Award winner Lookin at Lucky is sitting on a great race. He ran second to Classic Empire, a horse I’d be happy to finish second to. Lookin at Lee has a very strong late kick, as he showed in the Breeders' Futurity. He’s a come from behind horse and will most likely be trailing the field, saving his energy for a late run. If the front runners start to crumble from a hot pace, Lookin at Lee could potentially pick up all the pieces. Distance doesn’t seem like it will be a problem for him, his stride lengthens in the stretch, a very important and winning quality. He is another horse to include in your bets.

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Meet Olivia Newman

A lifelong horse owner, Olivia grew up competing in shows, including barrel racing, team penning and draft horse competitions. She always tuned into racing, too, but it wasn't until the saga of the late Barbaro that she really became hooked. Since then she's witnessed great moments, such as Rachel Alexandra winning the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and American Pharoah's Belmont Stakes.

Simply, horse racing brings Olivia a sense of happiness to which nothing can compare. She falls in love with the horses, and they inspire her.

Olivia is a member of TOBA and the NYTB. She works on a large Thoroughbred breeding farm near Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She loves doing foal watch and sales prepping weanlings and yearlings. Her ultimate goal is to become a trainer. You can follow Olivia on twitter @barbaroloverrr, like my page on Facebook and follow on instagram at The Final Stride.

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