The TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance will not only close out “Future Stars Friday” at the World Championships Nov. 6 at Keeneland, it should also bring down the curtain on who will be the champion 2-year-old male of 2020.
Heading into the 37th edition of the Breeders’ Cup, the Juvenile winner has ultimately been voted the Eclipse Award champion in 28 of the first 36 years. Given the talent lining up for Friday’s race, No. 29 seems to be on the horizon.
1. Camp Hope (30-1): He comes off a decisive maiden win in his debut around two turns, but the time was on the slow side and his lack of seasoning also raises more questions than answers.
JOCKEY: Robby Albarado; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
2. King Fury (15-1): Makes a relatively quick return after winning the Street Sense Stakes on Oct. 25 in his third start. Winning two races at Churchill Downs might help his cause next spring in the Kentucky Derby, but a 13 ¼-length loss in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland to Essential Quality does not bode well for his chances Friday.
JOCKEY: Brian J. Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
3. Reinvestment Risk (9-2): He won his debut by 7 ¾ lengths then ran into Jackie’s Warrior in the Runhappy Hopeful and Champagne Stakes. As the distances grew longer, the gap between him the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile morning-line favorite grew bigger. Both of them will be trying two turns for the first time Friday, but a 5 ½-length loss in the Champagne does not inspire much confidence that he’ll finally turn the tables on Jackie’s Warrior.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Chad Brown
4. Likeable (15-1): He took a big step forward in his second start, winning a one-turn mile race at Belmont Park by 8 ¼ lengths. He’s definitely stepping into deep waters here but if two-time Juvenile-winning trainer Todd Pletcher can coax him into taking another step forward, he’ll be a threat here.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
5. Essential Quality (4-1): He handled the stretch out to two turns with ease, winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity comfortably over this track. Like Jackie’s Warrior, he has an abundance of speed, but drawing inside of that rival could work against him. On paper, he’s definitely one of the main foes for the favorite.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Brad Cox
6. Keepmeinmind (30-1): He rallied to finish a surprising second as a maiden in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at 52.70-1 and now he adds blinkers and gets the services of jockey Jose Ortiz. There should be a lively pace in front of him which figures to boost his chances of catching up with the leaders.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
7. Jackie’s Warrior (7-5): He’s undefeated in four starts and has handled more distance in each of those starts. He’s the one they’ll have to catch and an ultra-impressive win in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes builds confidence in the belief that he’ll handle an extra sixteenth of a mile without any issue. How much pressure he will face on the front end is the bigger question.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario;TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
8. Classier (12-1): He won rather handily in his debut out of no less of a barn than Bob Baffert’s. That win came at 6 1/2 furlongs and he’s bred for a longer distance, which indicates he can handle the stretch out. Baffert has won this race four times, so he knows what it takes to win it. If he has enough faith to send him cross-country for this race, he deserves some attention.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
9. Sittin On Go (12-1): Has a strong closing kick, which he put to full use in winning the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes Presented by Ford at a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day. He also has a nice distance pedigree and has trained beautifully for the race. He may benefit the most from a strong early pace, making him an attractive play.
JOCKEY: Corey Lanerie; TRAINER: Dale Romans
10. Dreamer’s Disease (30-1): He owns a front-running win on this main track at a mile, which is promising. Yet he only figures to add to a heated pace scenario and seems the weaker of Diodoro’s two starters.
JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
11. Next (15-1): He hails from Wesley Ward’s barn, which specializes in turf runners, but he turned in a career-best effort when he raced on dirt for the first time. He won by nearly a dozen lengths in eye-opening fashion, but he will also be part of that quick early pace scenario which will probably work against him.
JOCKEY: Gerardo Corrales; TRAINER: Wesley Ward
12. Hot Rod Charlie (30-1): It took him four tries to break his maiden and that was only by a neck. He’ll need a dramatically better effort than that from an outside post to be a factor here.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
13. Rombauer (15-1): He rallied from seventh to finish second in the American Pharoah Stakes, which paints him as a factor here. Post-position 13 might work against him due to the likelihood of a wide trip, but he has a great jockey in Javier Castellano who may be able to overcome it.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Mike McCarthy
14. Calibrate (20-1): He looked great in his debut win then showed little in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. Hard to picture him bouncing back to top form from this post.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
THE PICK: Sittin On Go
LIVE LONGSHOT: Keepmeinmind