Using History to Handicap the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Gambling
Champagne Room (pink and blue jockey cap and silks) led into the stretch of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes en route to scoring a 33.60-1 upset. (Eclipse Sportswire)

If you like to bet favorites, then the $2 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is a great race to play. And if you like to bet on big longshots, then the Juvenile Fillies is still the perfect outlet for your wagering dollars.

How can this be? As counter-intuitive as it might seem, North America’s championship race for 2-year-old fillies has been a haven for both short-priced favorites and massive longshot winners. A brief glance at the history of the Juvenile Fillies reveals the details.

What else can history tell us about the Juvenile Fillies? If you want to have the best chance at picking the winner on Nov. 6 at Keeneland Race Course, then read on – we’ve uncovered seven history-driven tips and trends to aid your handicapping:

Strongly favor speed horses and front-runners

Over the last decade, speed has been the key to success in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Seven of the last 10 winners were racing first, second, or third after the opening half-mile, with four prevailing in gate-to-wire fashion and none rallying from farther than 2 ½ lengths off the pace.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Ria Antonia (who charge from sixth place in 2013) only won the Juvenile Fillies via the disqualification of She’s a Tiger, who led from start to finish.

Year

Winner

Position after first 1/2-mile

½-mile & ¾-mile times

(track condition)

2019

British Idiom

6th by 5.75 lengths (9 starters)

46.02, 1:11.93 (fast)

2018

Jaywalk

1st by 1 length (10 starters)

46.76, 1:11.48 (fast)

2017

Caledonia Road

9th by 6.5 lengths (13 starters)

46.72, 1:11.38 (fast)

2016

Champagne Room

2nd by 1.5 lengths (12 starters)

48.19, 1:13.01 (fast)

2015

Songbird

1st by 1 length (10 starters)

47.15, 1:11.42 (fast)

2014

Take Charge Brandi

1st by 1 length (12 starters)

45.99, 1:10.07 (fast)

2013

Ria Antonia

6th by 7 lengths (10 starters)

45.31, 1:09.30 (fast)

2012

Beholder

1st by 1.5 lengths (8 starters)

46.47, 1:11.00 (fast)

2011

My Miss Aurelia

2nd by 2.5 lengths (14 starters)

47.19, 1:13.08 (good)

2010

Awesome Feather

3rd by 1.5 lengths (12 starters)

48.14, 1:13.11 (fast)

Bet D. Wayne Lukas

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has been the most successful trainer in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, saddling half a dozen winners. While his diminished stable doesn’t participate in the Juvenile Fillies very often these days, Lukas has still won with two of his last four starters – Folklore in 2005 and Take Charge Brandi in 2014.

Short-priced Bob Baffert runners aren’t unbeatable

Bob Baffert (Eclipse Sportswire)

Although Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Juvenile Fillies twice with champions Silverbulletday (1998) and Indian Blessing (2007), that doesn’t mean his starters are unbeatable. Overall, Baffert has compiled a 2-for-24 (8%) record in the Juvenile Fillies, with seven runners suffering defeats at single-digit odds since 2010.

Four of those beaten fillies (Bast, third in 2019; Alluring Star, second in 2017; American Gal, third in 2016; and Executiveprivilege, second in 2012) managed to crack the top three, so Baffert trainees are always worth playing in the exotics. But they’re not unbeatable on the win end, even if their odds suggest otherwise.

Bet favorites or extreme longshots

You may have heard that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is a kind race for favorites, and that’s at least partially true – the betting favored has prevailed in 18 of the 36 editions of the Juvenile Fillies, an impressive 50% success rate.

But at the same time, the Juvenile Fillies has produced some of the most staggering upsets in Breeders’ Cup history. In the last decade alone we’ve seen Caledonia Road (17.30-1), Champagne Room (33.60-1), Take Charge Brandi (61.70-1), and Ria Antonia (32.30-1) trigger shocking results.

What it comes down to is this: 25 winners of the Juvenile Fillies have started at 4.20-1 or lower. Another nine winners started at 11-1 or higher, leaving just three winners starting between 9-2 and 10-1. In other words, you don’t want to bet mid-range longshots in the Juvenile Fillies – you want to bet favorites or major longshots, nothing in between.

Bet proven Grade 1 performers

It takes a quality filly to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Case in point? 12 of the last 13 winners (and 17 of the last 19) had previously contested a Grade 1 race. The two exceptions were Awesome Feather (2010) and Dreaming of Anna (2006), and both entered the Breeders’ Cup undefeated with multiple smaller stakes wins to their credit. You definitely don’t want to bet an inexperienced filly stepping into stakes company for the first time in the Juvenile Fillies.

Over the last decade, the key prep for the Juvenile Fillies has been the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park, which has produced four winners. The Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita Park (a Grade 1 event prior to 2020) and the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland have also been high-profile preps, producing two winners apiece.

Favor runners drawn in outside posts

It can be tricky for lightly-raced horses to work out a comfortable trip while breaking from an inside post position in a large field. Seven of the last ten winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies started from post six or wider, and during the same timeframe, only two fillies breaking from the rail have finished in the top three. One of the two was budding superstar Beholder, who secured a clear early lead from the rail on her way to a gate-to-wire victory in 2012.

Experience over the host track isn’t important

Since the Breeders’ Cup travels around the country, it seems logical to favor runners who have a “home-court advantage” – experience racing over the track where the Breeders’ Cup will be held. But familiarity with the host track hasn’t been an important factor in determining the outcome of the Juvenile Fillies; eight of the last ten winners were running over the host track for the first time.

Conclusions

Dayoutoftheoffice (Eclipse Sportswire)

The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies is shaping up to be a fantastic showdown between three undefeated fillies: Dayoutoftheoffice, Princess Noor, and Simply Ravishing. All are Grade 1 winners with perfect 3-for-3 records; all would be favored to win the Juveniles Fillies in a normal year. But this year’s field is clearly better than average, and barring a dead-heat finish, only one can prevail.

Pending the post position draw, history suggests Dayoutoftheoffice is the filly to beat. A decisive winner of the Frizette Stakes, Dayoutoftheoffice has tactical speed coupled with the tractability to settle a length or two off the lead if necessary. She’s never run at Keeneland (unlike Alcibiades Stakes winner Simply Ravishing), but history suggests this isn’t an issue.

It’s also worth noting Dayoutoftheoffice has run faster than Princess Noor and Simply Ravishing in terms of Beyer Speed Figures. If Dayoutoftheoffice brings her A-game to the Juvenile Fillies, she’ll be tough to deny.

Good luck with your handicapping, and enjoy the race!

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