The Breeders’ Cup begins on Friday with a quintet of World Championship races at Del Mar. The highlight from a sporting perspective is undoubtedly the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
Held at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile serves as a year-end championship for North America’s best 2-year-old Thoroughbreds. The winner is frequently crowned champion 2-year-old male at the Eclipse Awards, and the race also serves as a lucrative stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, awarding 20 Derby qualification points to the winner.
Just as importantly for horseplayers, the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is shaping up to be a great betting race. A dozen talented youngsters have been entered, including a trio of proven Grade 1 winners. But is it possible the most likely winner is the lone entrant who has yet to win a race?
The expected favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was #1 Jack Christopher, a speedy chestnut conditioned by four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. The son of Munnings is undefeated and unchallenged in two starts, winning his sprint debut at Saratoga by 8 3/4 lengths before stepping up in class for the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes racing one mile at Belmont Park. He was, unfortunately, scratched from the race on Thursday evening because of a shin injury.
If you liked Jack Christopher at a short price, then why not consider Champagne runner-up #10 Commandperformance at wwhat figures to be much better odds? Granted, the gray colt is 0-for-2 and has yet to experience a winner’s circle celebration. But four years ago at Del Mar, 2017 Champagne runner-up Good Magic parlayed an identical 0-for-2 resume into an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so there’s a precedent for a horse like Commandperformance to secure a maiden victory in the Juvenile.
Certainly, Commandperformance has the appearance of a promising colt. As a son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags out of a mare by three-time leading sire Tapit, Commandperformance is bred to relish racing around two turns. And his form to date is promising — after overcoming a troubled start to finish second in his sprint debut at Saratoga, he unleashed a sustained outside rally to finish second again in the Champagne. Commandperformance actually gained 2 3/4 lengths on Jack Christopher through the final eighth of a mile, and this relentless finishing power figures to serve him well at Del Mar.
Even with the defection of Jack Christopher, there’s a lot of speed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile field. The undefeated duo of #9 Pinehurst and #12 Corniche are serious front-runners with top-level talent. Pinehurst flaunted his speed to win the Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity during the summer, while Corniche hasn’t been headed in two starts, including a 3 1/4-length romp in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes.
Throw in the Japanese raider #2 Jasper Great, who wired his debut racing 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile seems destined to unfold at a solid pace. Such a scenario would play right to the strengths of Commandperformance, who can settle well behind the early tempo before launching a winning rally under three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
So, how should we bet the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile? Certainly a win bet on Commandperformance is worth considering—he’s listed at 5-1 on the morning line, an enticing price. But depending on your budget, we’ll also consider betting Commandperformance on top of exacta and trifecta tickets using Corniche, Jasper Great, and American Pharoah third-place finisher #3 Oviatt Class (20-1) underneath.
Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget
$8 to win on #10 Commandperformance
What to say at the betting window: Del Mar, 10th race, $8 to win on 10
$1 exacta: 10 with 2,12 ($2)
What to say at the betting window: Del Mar, 10th race, $2 exacta 10 with 2,12
Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget
$12 to win on #10 Commandperformance
What to say at the betting window: Del Mar, 10th race, $12 to win on 10
$5 exacta: 10 with 2,12 ($10)
What to say at the betting window: Del Mar, 10th race, $3 exacta 10 with 2,12
$2 trifecta: 10 with 2,12 with 2,3,12 ($8)
What to say at the betting window: Del Mar, 10th race, $1 trifecta 10 with 2,12 with 2,3,12
Good luck, and enjoy the race!