Jackie's Warrior was the fastest 2-year-old of 2020, but will he be the fastest 3-year-old?
If he sticks to one-turn races, then the answer could be yes, but distance concerns after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile have many doubting his ability to produce the same triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure he had as a 2-year-old in two-turn races on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Chad Brown's Highly Motivated, who had the second highest Beyer Speed Figure among 2-year-olds, also must prove he can go two turns. Unlike Jackie's Warrior, he has yet to be given the opportunity, but the son of Into Mischief is bred to handle added ground.
Essential Quality is a deserving Kentucky Derby favorite at this stage. Not only has he run fast races (88 Beyer in the Breeders' Futurity, 95 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile), but both of his Grade 1 wins came around two turns.
Brooklyn Strong may have low-profile connections, but he has produced high numbers. The $5,000 purchase continues to surpass expectations, and Brisnet loved his win in the Remsen (G2). He earned a 107 Brisnet Speed Rating, which is a full 6 points above Jackie's Warrior's and Essential Quality's best.
Speaking of under-the-radar connections, do not sleep on Remington Park's Springboard Mile winner Señor Buscador. He is among Timeform's favorite contenders after earning a 116 number, only one point behind Jackie's Warrior's season-high mark of 117.
The runners listed above might currently be the fastest of their crop, but that can change overnight with rapidly developing soon-to-be 3-year-olds.
Life Is Good (91), Prate (90) and Prime Factor (85) all put forth visually impressive debut scores for top connections. All three of them look to have the potential to produce a triple-digit Beyer with an expected move forward in start No. 2.
Although it is unlikely that a filly will take on the boys in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, it is worth noting that the top of the female crop is not far behind at this stage. Dayoutoftheoffice and Vequist have produced numbers that are on par or competitive with Essential Quality's Juvenile victory.
Below is a closer look at the 20 top 2-year-old performances of 2020, according to Beyer Speed Figures, Brisnet Speed Ratings and TimeformUS Speed Figures.
|Jackie's Warrior||Champagne||Oct. 10||100||101||117|
|Highly Motivated||Nyquist Stakes||Nov. 6||96||102||109|
|Essential Quality||BC Juvenile||Nov. 6||95||101||112|
|Jackie's Warrior||Hopeful||Sep. 7||95||96||116|
|Hot Rod Charlie||BC Juvenile||Nov. 6||94||100||112|
|Brooklyn Strong||Remsen||Dec. 5||93||107||113|
|Miss Brazil||Maiden||Nov. 29||93||92||110|
|Senor Buscador||Springboard Mile||Dec. 18||93||94||116|
|Ten for Ten||Remsen||Dec. 5||93||106||114|
|Vequist||BC Juvenile Fillies||Nov. 6||93||100||110|
|Keepmeinmind||BC Juvenile||Nov. 6||92||98||109|
|Life Is Good||Maiden||Nov. 22||91||100||113|
|Reinvestment Risk||Champagne||Oct. 10||91||94||110|
|Girl Daddy||BC Juvenile Fillies||Nov. 6||90||n/a||108|
|Reinvestment Risk||Maiden||Aug. 1||90||96||109|
|Dayoutoftheoffice||BC Juvenile Fillies||Nov. 6||90||n/a||109|