How have California horses fared in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile?

October 02, 2018 11:46am

The second Breeders' Cup Juvenile "Win and You're In" Challenge race took us to Santa Anita Park over the weekend for an event sporting a new name. As a fitting tribute to one its greatest athletes, the FrontRunner stakes was renamed the American Pharoah Stakes.

Did you expect any other trainer to win the first edition? Not only did Bob Baffert score in a race named after his first Triple Crown hero, but he broke his own record for wins in the stakes.

This time it was
Game Winner, a son of Candy Ride, that brought it home for the Baffert barn to make it eight career wins for the Hall of Fame trainer.

So, what have we learned over the years about this race and how has its starters finished in Breeders' Cup Juvenile?

Over the last 38 runnings, the American Pharoah Stakes has produced mixed results in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The total number of winners that came from this race is seven, but the best way to break it down is to look at it over three set periods of time: the early years, the 1990s/2000s, and most recent results.

In the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile, it was Chief's Crown, winner of what was then called the Norfolk Stakes, that became the 2-year-old champion in 1984 at Hollywood Park. In 1986, Capote repeated this pattern, yet both of his wins came at Santa Anita Park. In 1987, Success Express finished fourth in the Norfolk Stakes before returning next time out at Hollywood Park to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

His win would be last time a starter from this event conquered the Breeders' Cup Juvenile until Anees made it happen in 1999 after finishing third in the Norfolk Stakes. Once Anees scored his Breeders' Cup Juvenile win at Gulfstream Park, the Norfolk did not produce another winner until Midshipman, trained by Baffert, delivered following a runner-up finish in the 2008 Norfolk Stakes.

In 2014, Santa Anita Park was once again the host of the Breeders’ Cup. As such, another Juvenile that had already raced there would go on to become the 2-year-old champion. After finishing third in the recently renamed FrontRunner Stakes, Texas Red and the Desormeaux brothers dazzled us when Texas Red came storming home to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The following year Nyquist used the FrontRunner Stakes to get to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, where he concluded an undefeated 2-year-old season and continued a winning streak that lasted throgh the Kentucky Derby. Nyquist 
now stands as the last Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner that started in the American Pharoah Stakes.

Will Game Winner be next?

In summary, this race has had success over the years -- much thanks to Baffert -- and has also featured some memorable Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners. Five of its seven winners scored their Breeders' Cup win in Southern California at either Hollywood Park or Santa Anita, while Anees and Nyquist had to travel across the country to get their championship wins.

So, there has been some success away from the West Coast, and Churchill Downs happens to be a track that Game Winner's trainer has enjoyed tremendous success. In conclusion, Game Winner should be considered a serious contender in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, if not the favorite, while the rest of the field in the American Pharoah Stakes will on a historical basis need to make a big jump to contend if entered. 


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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track & continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

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