2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf - Assessing the U.S. Contenders

October 27, 2015 01:41am
Conquest Daddyo wins 2015 Summer Stakes.
Photo: Michael Burns/Woodbine

The Juvenile Turf is the first Breeders’ Cup race on Friday.  The contest always attracted an over-subscribed field of national and international two year old colts. This year, trainer Mark Casse holds a very strong hand. He conditions both of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series winners entered into the race, plus the Bourbon Stakes third place finisher Sliding Spring.

We reviewed the international colts earlier, now let’s examine the national contenders. Colts with a first preference in the Juvenile will not be profiled unless they draw into the Juvenile Turf.


AIROFORCE (Colonel John - Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee)
Race record: 2-2-0-0 ($222,000)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Last race:  1st Bourbon Stakes (G-3); top Bris SF 95; Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winner. 

Strengths: The pretty gray Airoforce has won both of his starts by a combined 5 ¾ lengths and is the likely favorite for the Juvenile Turf. Although lightly raced, he faced  eleven colts in his debut and 13 others in the Bourbon Stakes, so he should be comfortable in Juvenile Turf.  Airoforce breezed a sprightly 4F :48.4 (9/49) over the Churchill dirt.

Weakness:  Airoforce benefitted from a good trip in the Bourbon, but seemed hard pressed to put away a tiring Siding Spring and Hot Ore. The lightly raced colt History is against Airoforce. Traditionally, favorites don’t win the Juvenile Turf. Only one favorite has won the since the race’s inception in 2007. The last horse to finish in the money in the Bourbon Stakes and win the Juvenile Turf was Nownownow in 2007.

AZAR (Scat Daddy - Miss Ocean City, by Mineshaft)
Race record:  4-1-2-0 ($176,850)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Last race:  2nd Pilgrim Stakes (G-3); 85 top Bris SF.

Strengths: Azar has made four starts and finished out of the top three only once, in his debut.  He’s raced three times at 1 1/16 miles, including a victory in the With Anticipation Stakes (G-2), getting his final split in 6.12.  Azar overcame a tough start in the Pilgrim Stakes and just missed the winning photo by a short neck to Isotherm. Trainer Todd Pletcher won the Juvenile Turf in 2010 with Pluck. Azar breezed a quick 4F :47.8 (3/28) over the dirt in company with Juvenile Turf entrant Thrilled at Keeneland.

Weakness:  Azar likes to run on or near the lead. Only one pace presser has won Juvenile Turf, and that was Nownownow over a boggy Monmouth course.  Azar’s speed figures are lower than the top pair and his figure regressed slightly in the Pilgrim Stakes.


CAMELOT KITTEN (Kitten's Joy - Celestial Woods, by Forestry)
Race record: 2-1-1-0 ($95,000)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Last race: 2nd Bourbon Stakes; 89 top Bris SF.

Strengths:  Camelot Kitten is a tough colt who has overcome adversity in both of his starts.  He outdueled his competitor in his debut. In the Bourbon Stakes, the son of Kitten’s Joy was off slow and had traffic issues. Once he was in the clear, Camelot Kitten displayed a swift turn of foot to finish second, 2 ½ lengths behind Azur and ½ length in front of Siding Spring.  Camelot Kitten is a full brother to BOBBY'S KITTEN, who finished third in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and last year won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Trainer Chad Brown conditioned the second and third place finishers in the 2012 Juvenile Turf and trained 2008 Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Maram.  Camelot Kitten breezed a slow 4F :49.80 (28/39) over the Keeneland Dirt.

Weakness:  Camelot Kitten has raced only twice and his speed figures are fairly low. He should show improvement in the Juvenile Turf and with a good trip, he could hit the board.


CONQUEST DADDYO (Scat Daddy - Hangingbyamoment, by Thunder Gulch)
Race record: 3-2-1-0 ($162,328)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Last race:  1st  Summer Stakes (G-2); 94 top Bris SF; Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winner. 

Strengths:  Conquest Daddyo has shown placing and speed figure improvement in each of his three starts, cumulating in a 1 ¾ length victory in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine. The son of Scat Daddy has an adaptable running style. In his debut, he was close to the pace before taking command. The colt showed a new dimension and overcame a slow start in the Summer Stakes which had him placed at the back of the pack. Take note that the only national winner of the Juvenile Turf won the Summer Stakes before his victory in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs. Conquest Daddyo breezed a sharp 5F 1:00.80 (4/11) over the Keeneland Dirt.

Weakness:  It’s difficult to find a chink in Conquest Daddyo’s armor. He has a legitimate shot in here.  The only drawback would be a poor post position. Only one post time favorite has won the Juvenile Turf. They’ve hit the board four times.


DRESSED IN HERMES (Hat Trick (JPN) - Elusive Fashion, by Elusive Quality)
Race record: 3-1-0-1 ($72,600)