Keys to handicapping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

Keys to handicapping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
Photo: Candice Chavez / Eclipse Sportswire

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf is an excellent betting race. Full fields dominate, and while favorites hit the board fifty percent of the time, only one has won in the last decade. Second favorites have won once and hit the board once. The third choice is the way to go. They won three straight from 2014 to 2016 and again in 2019.

The Europeans have dominated, specifically Aidan O'Brien and Charlie Appleby. They have accounted for nine wins or second-place finishes in the last decade.

Notes about Del Mar

At only 919 feet, the Del Mar stretch is the shortest of all the current Breeders' Cup host tracks. For comparison, Santa Anita is 990 feet, and Lone Star is 950 feet. The shorter stretch gives horses that are closer to the lead the advantage.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at a glance

All stats are for the last decade (2011 – 2020)

Division Debut: 2007

Key race prep winners

Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) — Angel Bleu (FR)

Summer Stakes (G1) — Albahr (GB)

KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) — Atomic Jones (FR)

Royal Lodge Stakes (G2) — Royal Patronage (FR)

Bourbon Stakes (G2) — Tiz the Bomb

Pilgrim Stakes (G2) — Annapolis


Average win payout: $20.10

Lowest: $9.00 Line of Duty (IRE) (2018)

Highest: $62.40 Fire at Will (2020)


10 percent win

50 percent in the money 

Last to win: Mendelssohn (2017)

Del Mar in 2017: Favorite won.

Second Favorite

10 percent win

10 percent in the money

Last to win: Line of Duty (IRE) (2018)

Post position

Post 4 — Two winners

Post 5 — Two winners

Post 1, 2, 3, 7, 13, 14 — One each

Winning style – determined by position at the half-mile  

0 Pacesetters — wired the field.

0 Presser/setters —  within a half-length of the pacesetter.

5 Pressers — one to four lengths behind the pacesetter.

5 Closers — five or more lengths behind the pacesetter.

Del Mar in 2017

Mendelssohn stalked the pace from the inside, 1 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetter at the half-mile pole. Moved outside in midstretch and inched clear.

Previous starts

2 winners were undefeated.

2 winners had two previous starts.

2 winners had three previous starts.

5 winners had four previous starts.

1 winner had six previous starts.

Prep races

5 winners won their final prep.

3 winners prepped in the Pilgrim Stakes (G2)

3 winners prepped in the Dewhurst Stakes (Gr.1)

1 winner prepped in the Prix Morny (G1)

1 winner prepped in the Royal Lodge Stakes (G2)

1 winner prepped in the Prix de Conde (G3)

1 winner prepped in the Star Appeal Stakes (IRE)

Del Mar in 2017

Winner Mendelssohn finished second in the Dewhurst Stakes (G1).

Second-place finisher
Untamed Domain won the Summer Stakes (G2)

Third-place finisher
Voting Control finished second in the Pilgrim Stakes (G2)


European races are timed differently than those in the US and Canada. In Europe, they are timed from the gate, and track configurations vary widely.

In the last ten years, European horses have a 43-6-2-3 record in the Juvenile Turf.

Irish-trained horses have won six of the last ten Juvenile Turf, with two seconds and two thirds (10-6-2-2).


Aidan O'Brien
has had 15 starters in the last ten Juvenile Turf events. He won four and placed second in three.  In five of those years, he started two horses, with excellent success, four won or placed while the other finished off the board. O’Brien was blanked only once.

Charlie Appleby has had three starters between 2013 and 2018. Two won, and the third finished sixth.


Ryan Moore has won the Juvenile Turf four times, all on O'Brian trained horses.

Jose Ortiz has won twice.

Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB

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. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
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LinkedIn: Laurie Ross

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