Albaugh is back with 2 juveniles for this year's Breeders' Cup

Albaugh is back with 2 juveniles for this year's Breeders' Cup
Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

Albaugh Family Stables works every sale in search of prospects it can develop into classic winners at 3. In doing so, it has developed an uncanny knack for reaching the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with juveniles.

For the second consecutive year, the Iowa-based operation aims to be represented in the $2 million Juvenile and the $2 million Juvenile Fillies after Sittin On Go finished ninth in last year’s Juvenile and Girl Daddy snagged third in the Juvenile Fillies.

Albaugh has produced five Juvenile runners in the last five seasons – Not This Time (2016), Free Drop Billy and Hollywood Star (2017), Dennis’ Moment (2019) and the aforementioned Sittin On Go.

Not This Time staged a dramatic rally that failed to overtake Classic Empire by a neck, beginning a quest for a victory that has been maddeningly elusive.

Albaugh’s latest hopes revolve around well-regarded Juju’s Map, who secured a fees-paid berth in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies by dominating the Oct. 8 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, and Juvenile candidate Giant Game, who broke his maiden impressively a day later at Keeneland in his second career start.

Jason Loutsch, racing manager, takes pride in the consistency with which Albaugh has been able to advance 2-year-olds to the Breeders’ Cup.

“It’s really a great testament to our team,” he said. “We’re sticking to our game plan. We’re trying to find quality horses at sales, and we’ve had a good run.”

Juju’s Map looks to be one of the stronger contenders Albaugh has taken to the season-ending championships. The daughter of Liam’s Map was purchased for $300,000 at Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale with an eye toward eventually adding her to the family’s broodmare band.

While Albaugh continues to enjoy its long association with trainer Dale Romans, Juju’s Map is one of three horses assigned to Eclipse Award-winning Brad Cox to begin a working relationship with him. She has won two of three starts and coasted by 4 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades, the same race Cox used when British Idiom captured the Juvenile Fillies two years ago.

Loutsch said of the new association with Cox, “I’ve always had great respect for Brad and how hard he works and his attention to detail.”

Loutsch would not be surprised if Juju’s Map follows in British Idiom’s footsteps. “I think we have a very live shot going into the filly race. She came out of the race in great shape. She’s already gone two turns, which is a big plus,” he noted. “She’ll have to improve and I think she will improve.”

Giant Game, co-owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Romans, is a Giant’s Causeway colt purchased for $500,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Selected Yearlings Showcase. After finishing third in his Sept. 18 debut at Churchill Downs, the youngster displayed quality with a three-length victory at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.

“We think he’s got a big future,” Loutsch said. “We think he will only get better as time goes on with his pedigree.”

The argument can be made that Giant Game might be better served if he does not compete in the Juvenile. Sittin On Go has lost nine consecutive races since last year’s Juvenile. Girl Daddy never ran again after the Juvenile Fillies and is in foal to white-hot sire Into Mischief. Still, Loutsch is eager to give Giant Game a shot.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” he said, “but you can’t win if you’re not there.”

The Albaugh family understands better than most how wildly unpredictable the Breeders’ Cup can be. Dennis’ Moment, named for patriarch Dennis Albaugh, looked virtually unbeatable in the Juvenile two years ago. He stumbled badly at the start and finished last to 46-1 Storm the Court.

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