The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity is the kind of stakes that opens a new door for 2-year-olds. Run at 1 1/16 miles, it offers young, promising speedsters and closers a chance to test their mettle at a two-turn distance for the first time.
In the last few years it has been a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile producing the runner-up in 2018 and winner in 2016. As a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series race, the winner of the Breeders’ Futurity will earn an expenses-paid berth in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
1. Super Stock (8-1 morning-line odds): Stretched out from 5 ½ furlongs to a mile for the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, he lacked a late kick while finishing third. He should benefit from that trip and he’s bred to handle two turns. Others are more attractive, but he certainly is not a tossout.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
2. Upstriker (8-1): He was sent off at 11.50-1 odds in his debut but ran like he was an even-money choice, winning by five lengths. He’s stretching out from 6 ½ furlongs and certainly has the speed and potential to pull off a victory here.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Ron Moquett
3. Notary (20-1): He showed early speed in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, pressing the pace from second, but then faded to a well-beaten sixth. Hard to see him faring much better at a longer distance, but if anyone can pull off an upset like that, it’s his legendary trainer, D. Wayne Lukas.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux; TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas
4. Essential Quality (2-1): He was an impressive debut winner at Churchill Downs and won in a manner that indicates he should relish the added distance. Has the breeding to handle this assignment and figures to be a major force here.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Brad Cox
5. Keepmeinmind (30-1): He’s a maiden who passed horses in the stretch to take second in his Sept. 2 debut at Churchill Downs. The concern is that the race was washed off the turf, so the field may have been suspect. The final time also came up on the slow side.
JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
6. Dixie’s Two Stents (12-1): Ships in off two diverse efforts at Del Mar. He missed by a head in his debut against a well-regarded winner. Then he flopped in the Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity at 2.20-1 odds, finishing second. Wouldn’t think he’d be shipped across the country off that last try, so perhaps his connections are expecting a bounce-back effort. If the odds are right, he’s worth a long look.
JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano; TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
7. Calibrate (7-2): He should be the more formidable of trainer Steve Asmussen’s two entries. He was well-bet for his debut at Saratoga and lived up to expectations with a 4 ½-length score. He’s been working sharply since then and he should be well-suited by the two turns. He’s definitely one to watch in this spot.
JOCKEY: Rafael Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
8. Founder (5-2): Another debut winner at Saratoga, although his victory came in the mud. Hard to get a read on him because of the conditions, but given his $600,000 price tag at a 2-year-old sale, it’s unlikely he’s just a mudder. Deserves some consideration against these.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Chad Brown
9. King Fury (12-1): He’s the only one in the field who has raced – and won – at the two-turn 1 1/16-mile distance. His final time was not impressive, but he was wide throughout. The mere fact that he’s handled the distance makes him a serious contender.
JOCKEY: Corey Lanerie; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
THE PICK: Calibrate
LIVE LONGSHOTS: King Fury, Dixie’s Two Stents