Breeders’ Futurity 2017: Odds and Analysis

October 06, 2017 09:46am
Ten City_Bashford Manor 2017 2_615x400
Photo: Coady Photography

The Keeneland track surface switch from Polytrack back to dirt in 2014 enhanced the form of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. The Grade One event has returned to former glory as a significant Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The heroes of the last three editions of the Breeders’ Futurity carried their form into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The 2014 and 2015 Breeders’ Futurity victors Carpe Diem and Brody’s Cause placed second and third, respectively in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Last year Classic Empire swept both races to complete a Championship season.


The Breeders’ Futurity generally attracts a full field and this year is no exception. A dozen colts and a lone gelding will contest the 1 1/6 mile race. Ten City is the only contender with experience at the distance.  Six of the thirteen entrants exit a stakes race. 


Post time favoritism may be shared between Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit. The pair finished a head and neck behind Sporting Chance in the Hopeful Stakes (G1).


Free Drop Billy was the more impressive of the pair, swinging five wide on the turn while Givemeaminit took the shorter route up the rail. Their Trakus final furlong bears this out.  Free Drop Billy’s final furlong of 12.64 was the fastest in the Hopeful.  Givemeaminit clocked a 13.11 while Hopeful hero Sporting Chance was slowing down and timed his final furlong in 13.33.


Both Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit have the pedigrees to easily stretch out. Free Drop Billy (Union Rags - Trensa, by Giant's Causeway) is by a Belmont Stakes winner. His distaff line is filled with long-winded turf routers. The chestnut colt is a half-brother to Hawkbill, an international multiple Group 1 turf router who has been successful at 1 1/2 miles over the lawn. Their dam Trensa is graded stakes placed at 1 3/16 miles on turf. Free Drop Billy’s second dam Serape adds dirt sprinter speed to the pedigree; she captured the seven-furlong Ballerina Handicap (G1) in stakes record time. Train Dale Romans saddled Futurity winners Brody’s Cause (2015) and Dullahan (2011), and Robby Albarado last sat in the Futurity winner’s circle in 2007 on Wicked Style.


Givemeaminit (Star Guitar - Powerful Nation, by Turkoman) is by a three-time Louisiana Horse of the Year. Star Guitar raced for six years and retired with a ten-race win streak. The son of Quiet American won from six to nine furlongs and racked up a 30: 24-0-2 race record with earnings of $1,749,862. Givemeaminit is a half-brother to restricted stakes placed Real Dingo and Star Celebrity, both showed ability at middle distances. Star Celebrity bore a stakes placed sprinter, and she’s also the second dam of Seeking the Ante Stakes winner Cause We Are Loyal. Givemeaminit’s dam Powerful Nation is graded stakes placed at 1 1/8 miles.

Hopeful Stakes:


Ten City (Run Away and Hide - Maiden America, by Rock Hard Ten) has two advantages over his rivals in the Breeders’ Futurity; a victory over the Keeneland dirt and experience at 1 1/16 miles.  The Ken McPeek trainee drag raced through 4 1/2 furlongs in :51.34 in his mid-April debut at Keeneland, winning by seven lengths. The dark bay colt tried two turns for the first time in the Iroquois Stakes (G3). Ten City raced three-wide near the back of the pack in the Iroquois. He swung six wide on the final turn and, while slightly green, made a powerful, sustained stretch drive, missing the victory by 3 3/4 lengths.  Ten City got his final quarter in 25.54, fastest in the race, and recorded a 1/16 split of 6.78, faster than the winner, Tabulator (7.07). Ten City will be piloted for the first time by Corey Lanerie, who won the Futurity in 2015.

Ten City has a speed over stamina pedigree. Physically, he resembles his damsire Rock Hard Ten.  Ten City is the second foal to race out of an unraced mare. His half-sister won one of two starts over the lawn. Their dam Maiden America is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 Stakes winning turf router Wonder Again and to Grass Wonder, a Group 1 winner in Japan.

Iroquois Stakes:


Captivating Moon (Malibu Moon - Appealing Storm, by Valid Appeal) made up four lengths in the stretch of the Arlington Washington Futurity in his last start, but ran out of ground, missing the victory by 3/4 length. The Breeders’ Futurity would be bay colt’s initial dirt start. Trainer Chris Block cross-entered the colt in Sunday’s Dixiana Bourbon Stakes over the lawn. Captivating Moon’s immediate distaff line is turf oriented. He’s a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-winning turf mare Vacare, plus Group/Graded turf milers Abtaal and Single Solution.  Half-sister Nobody’s Fault is a turf sprinter.


Ready Prospector (Custom for Carlos - Vera Belle, by Not for Love) beat up on Louisiana state-breds in his last two starts. The speedy bay gelding has a sprinter’s pedigree, and the freewheeling front-runner will have to stretch his speed and likely have a wide trip.  


Six Breeders’ Futurity contenders are last out maiden winners. The last two winners of the Breeders’ Futurity were last out maiden winners. Let’s take a closer look at which of this year’s maidens could pull off the upset.


Ezmosh (Tizway - Eagle Island, by Fusaichi Pegasus) has improved his speed figures in each start while adding distance. He wired the field in his final start, getting a mile in a sharp 1:35.59. He traveled his last furlong in 12.62, easily the best in the field. Ezmosh has a miler’s pedigree, and the extra distance should be within his scope. He likes to run on or close to the lead and may have plenty of company in the early stages of the Futurity.


Bourbon Resolution (New Year's Day - Vindicated Ghost, by Vindication) has improved his speed figures in a trio of starts. After two runner-up finishes, the Ian Wilkes trainee won at seven furlongs by 2 1/2 lengths. He’s by a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ out of a half-sister to the speedy multiple graded stakes winners Salute the Sarge and Cherlokee.  Jockey Julien Leparoux won last year’s edition of the Breeders’ Futurity on Classic Empire.


Lone Sailor (Majestic Warrior - Ambitious, by Mr. Greeley) improved tremendously in his second start, swimming off to an eleven-length victory over a sloppy Saratoga track. Lone Sailor’s distaff line is filled with blacktype and filled with Phipps Family bloodlines. His dam is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Altesse, a winner from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles; Mine That Bird, Derby hero; Where’s the Moon, and to stakes placed Alchemist, dam of Withers Stakes winner Far From Over, Stakes winning miler Analyze and multiple graded stakes placed And Why Not. This year’s Peter Pan winner Timeline is also a member of the family. Second dam Aldiza was a competitive sprinter, in the money 16 of 18 starts, mostly graded stakes.


D. Wayne Lukas owns six Breeders’ Futurity trophies, the last was with Consolidator in 2004. Lukas may have lost a step in the stakes department, but every once in awhile, the sneaky ahem, codger pulls off the upset. This year, Lukas and the underrated Jon Court team up with Bravazo (Awesome Again - Tiz o' Gold, by Cee's Tizzy). The colt has the pedigree to improve with distance and maturity. He strolled away from a maiden field by 4 3/4 lengths in his last start. Yes, his time was slow 1:38.19, but he wasn’t under pressure and his post-race breeze times have picked up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


The well-bred Enticed (Medaglia d'Oro - It's Tricky, by Mineshaft) captured his six-furlong debut by 1 1/2 lengths while playing in the mud at Saratoga. The Kiaran McLaughlin charge has the pedigree to handle classic distances and the family class to capture the Futurity in his second start. He’s the first foal to race out of multiple Grade One winner It's Tricky. The mare’s resume includes victories in the CCA Oaks, Acorn, Ogden Phipps, Top Flight and Distaff Handicap. She was second to Royal Delta in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Beldame.


So why is Enticed an enticing 15-1 morning line odds? Enticed beat a weak field while racing greenly. His knee action is so high that if he ever lowered his head to get into a drive, he’d bop himself in the nose. He clearly didn’t enjoy getting his hooves dirty in the mud. In a four-furlong breeze over a dry track before his maiden score, Enticed displayed choppy, high knee action and upright posture and didn’t look comfortable at any point while working in company with Indimaaj.       


Race keys since the switch to dirt:  Colts exiting the Iroquois Stakes have hit the board in the last three editions of the Breeders’ Futurity. Last out maiden winners won the last two Futuritys. Speed folds in the Futurity. In the last three editions, one pace setter held on for third place while the rest were out of the money.


#4 TEN CITY (10-1)



#3 LONE SAILOR (12-1)


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Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

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