Next week, the weekend racing fans wait for all year for will finally arrive. The top horses in the country will travel to Del Mar in Southern California for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The action kicks off on Friday, Nov. 5, with “Future Stars Friday.” All five Breeders’ Cup races on Friday are restricted to 2-year-olds. The two most prominent races are the NetJets Juvenile FIllies and the TVG Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The winner of those races almost always wins the Eclipse Award as champion of their respective division. The Friday card also features three races on grass: the Juvenile Turf Sprint, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the finale of the day, the Juvenile Turf.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about each race.
JUVENILE TURF SPRINT
Distance: 5 furlongs on turf
Post time: 5:50 p.m. ET
Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 5
Background: This race is the new kid on the block, having been run for the first time in 2018. Wesley Ward has dominated this race so far, having won it twice in three editions. Both Ward-trained winners went off as the favorite. The other, Bulletin, won at 4.30-1 for Todd Pletcher in the inaugural edition in 2018.
Favorites: Ward will have two chances at a three-peat. Averly Jane is a perfect 4-for-4 in her career and is already a three-time stakes winner. Twilight Gleaming was second in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and recently won a listed stakes in France. A third entrant for Ward, Kaufymaker, is currently on the also-eligible list.
Christophe Clement also has two serious contenders for this race. Derrynane won the Woodbine Cares Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths last out as the favorite, while Slipstream took the Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park by a length in his most recent outing. Among the European contingent, Quick Suzy may loom largest. She won the Queen Mary Stakes over Twilight Gleaming in June. She was ninth in the Prix Morny Stakes at Deauville in France last out and looks for a bounce-back performance here.
Interesting storylines: Despite winning over 2,000 races with earnings of more than $146 million, Clement has never won a Breeders’ Cup race. Some of his more notable entrants include Gio Ponti, who was second in the 2009 Classic behind Zenyatta and also second in the 2010 Mile; and Pure Sensation, who competed in the Turf Sprint four times but was never better than third. He’s among the most successful trainers yet to taste Breeders’ Cup glory, but he’s got a big shot at changing that in the first race of this year’s World Championships.
Larry Rivelli is one of the top trainers in the Midwest but has never won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 race. He’ll have a chance to get a Grade 2 victory here with One Timer, who is a perfect 3-for-3. He broke his maiden at the recently closed Arlington International in June and has since won stakes races at Woodbine and Santa Anita Park.
NETJETS JUVENILE FILLIES
Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt
Post Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 4, Juvenile Fillies-Distaff double
Background: One of the “original seven” Breeders’ Cup races, the Juvenile Fillies has been a staple of the Breeders’ Cup since the first edition of the event in 1984. The winner of this race is almost automatically voted the champion 2-year-old filly. She’s a Tiger, in 2013, was the last horse to date to not win the Juvenile Fillies and still win the Eclipse Award in her division. This race is typically not friendly to favorites. My Miss Aurelia in 2011 and Songbird in 2015 are the only favorites to win this race in the past decade.
Favorites: Echo Zulu looms as the overwhelming favorite in this year’s Juvenile Fillies. She’s a perfect 3-for-3 in her career and has won all of her races by at least four lengths. As the odds-on choice in the Frizette Stakes, she won by seven lengths while barely being asked to run by jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. She’s been so impressive this year, there is a strong chance she’ll win the Eclipse Award even if she loses this race. She’s very likely to go off as an extremely heavy favorite. In fact, she may challenge the record for lowest-priced favorite in Juvenile Fillies history, held by 1-5 Meadow Star in 1990. Her presence scared away most of the competition; only eight other fillies were pre-entered the Juvenile Fillies.
Interesting Storylines: As profiled on America’s Best Racing, Reylu Gutierrez will make his Breeders’ Cup debut aboard Hidden Connection. This filly has won her two starts by a combined 16 ¾ lengths, including a dominant score in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs last out. Gutierrez has been aboard for both her wins. He’ll try to pull off the upset and run her record to a perfect 3-for-3.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Distance: 1 mile on turf
Post Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, double, Pick 3
Background: This race was held for the first time in 2008. U.S.-based fillies have historically done very well in this race. Only two Europeans, Flotilla in 2012 and Chriselliam in 2013, have won. Last year, Europeans finished second, third, and fourth behind gate-to-wire winner Aunt Pearl. While the winner was bred in Ireland, she was campaigned in the United States by Brad Cox. Europeans should be respected, but they are not the sure things that they might be in other Breeders’ Cup turf races.
Favorites: In stark contrast to its dirt equivalent, the Juvenile Fillies Turf looks wide open. The East’s best hope may be Bubble Rock, as Brad Cox seeks his second consecutive win in this race. She most recently won the Matron Stakes at Belmont Park by half a length, rallying to take command in the last few strides. This will be her first start beyond six furlongs. Cairo Memories, for trainer Bob Hess, is the main contender from the West. She’s a perfect 2-for-2 lifetime with both her wins coming at a mile. She’s the only one in the field who has won at Del Mar, and Cairo Memories won the Surfer Girl Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita Park last out.
There’s five Europeans in the main body of the 14-horse field. Two of them are Group 2 winners: Hello You, who won the Unibet Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last out, and Malavath, who took the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte Stakes at Chantilly most recently.
Interesting storylines: Chad Brown has dominated this race, winning it five times. Last year his lone entrant, Editor at Large, drew a far outside post and ended up finishing seventh. He’s back this year as Consumer Spending will look to give him a sixth win in this race. She drew off impressively to win the Selima Stakes at Laurel Park last out for her second consecutive win. Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Turf six times, and D. Wayne Lukas with six Juvenile Fillies wins are the only other trainers to win a Breeders’ Cup race six times.
On the other end of the spectrum is George Leonard III, who will saddle his first Breeders’ Cup starter in California Angel. She won the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes in a 17.80-1 upset last out to give Leonard his first graded stakes victory. She’s a deep closer, so if she wins this race it would make Leonard’s first Breeders’ Cup win a dramatic one.
TVG JUVENILE PRESENTED BY THOROUGHBRED AFTERCARE ALLIANCE
Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt
Post Time: 7:50 p.m. ET
Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, double, Juvenile-Classic double
Background: The biggest race of the afternoon, the Juvenile features the top 2-year-old colts and geldings in the country. Most of its winners, including Essential Quality who won last year, go on to win the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. The last Juvenile winner who was not voted year-end champion was Texas Red in 2014.
Last year’s race produced a bevy of future stars. In addition to Essential Quality, future Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets runner-up and Pennsylvania Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie, the blazingly fast sprinter Jackie’s Warrior, and Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer all competed in last year’s Juvenile. They finished second, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
Favorites: This race is a classic showdown of East v. West. Jack Christopher for trainer Chad Brown is the best hope of the East Coast. He won his debut on Runhappy Travers Stakes day at Saratoga by almost nine lengths, and then he won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 ¾ lengths. If he wins, he’ll be the first horse to win the Champagne and the Juvenile since Shanghai Bobby in 2012.
From the West, Corniche is 2-for-2 lifetime for Bob Baffert. He cruised to a maiden victory at Del Mar on Sept. 4, then won the American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 1. While he was very impressive sprinting on debut, he wasn’t as impressive stretching out beyond a mile. He’ll get his biggest distance test yet here. These two runners figure to take the bulk of the wagering action.
Interesting Storylines: Baffert has won the Juvenile four times: Vindication in 2002, Midshipman in 2008, New Year’s Day in 2013, and Game Winner in 2018. A fifth win would match D. Wayne Lukas for the most Juvenile wins by a trainer. In addition to Corniche, Baffert will be represented by Barossa and Pinehurst.
It’s been more than a decade since a foreign-based horse won the Juvenile, with Vale of York in 2009 being the most recent one to date. This year, the international presence in this race comes from Japan. Owner Kazuo Kato and trainer Hideyuki Mori will send over two horses: Jasper Great, who broke his maiden in his debut at Hanshin by 10 lengths, and Jasper Krone, who was stakes-placed twice earlier in the year. They’re looking to become the first Japanese-based horses to win the Juvenile.
Up-and-coming trainer Chris Davis won his first graded stakes this year when Naval Laughter won the Modesty Stakes at Arlington International. He’ll send out a pair in here: Iroquois Stakes runner-up Tough to Tame and American Sanctuary, who has been stakes-placed two times. Sophie Doyle has been the regular rider of both horses. She’s ridden in the Breeders’ Cup twice but has yet to win.
Distance: 1 mile on the turf
Post Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, Juvenile Turf-Turf double
Background: Future Stars Friday will wrap up with the Juvenile Turf, which was first held in 2007. Historically, Europeans have held a hammerlock on this race. They won nine of the first 12 editions of the race. Their grip has loosened somewhat in recent years with U.S.-based runners winning in 2019 and 2020. Still, Americans have finished 1-2 in this race only twice, in 2010 and 2019. Last year, although 30.20-1 American Fire At Will pulled off the upset, Europeans finished second, third, fourth, and fifth.
Favorites: Charlie Appleby has won this race twice, and has been dominant with his North American shippers this year. He’ll send out the probable heavy favorite in here in Albahr. He’s won four races in a row and was an impressive winner of the Summer Stakes last out at Woodbine. Appleby is also represented by Group 3 winner Modern Games. Frankie Dettori has won this race three times, and has a great chance at a fourth win with this impressive colt.
The best hope for the Americans may be Annapolis for trainer Todd Pletcher. He made his debut to great fanfare at Saratoga on Sept. 4, and won by four lengths. He won the Pilgrim Stakes last out at Belmont Park after a great stretch battle with Portfolio Company. Pletcher was the first American trainer to win this race, doing so with Pluck in 2010.
Interesting Storylines: Danny Gargan will saddle his first Breeders’ Cup starter here in Dakota Gold. He won the Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth Park by 2 ½ lengths in his first victory on grass. Isaac Castillo rode him that day; should he keep the mount, it would be his first Breeders’ Cup trip as well.
Mike Maker trained Fire At Will to victory last year and this year he’ll send out Stolen Base, who was second in the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes. He’d be the third trainer to win the Juvenile Turf in back-to-back years, joining John Gosden from 2008-’09 and Aidan O’Brien from 2011-’12. Mackinnon, trained by Doug O’Neill, is a two-time stakes winner and will try to become the first California-based Juvenile Turf winner.