2023 United Arab Emirates Derby at a Glance
The link between the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be even stronger this year. While a win in the $2 million, Grade 1 BC Juvenile Nov. 4 at Keeneland will put that fortunate 2-year-old in the driver’s seat for an Eclipse Award, this year the winner will also receive 30 qualifying points for one of the 20 starting spots in the run for the roses. That’s up from 20 last year and fifth place has been added to the mix for payouts ranging from 30-12-9-6-3 for first through fifth. The caveat is that trainer Bob Baffert’s horses are ineligible for Kentucky Derby points and he trains two of the starters, including the odds-on favorite, Cave Rock.
Fanduel breeders' cup juvenile presented by thoroughbred aftercare alliance
1. Hurricane J (30-1): He’s undefeated in two starts and comes off a win at Keeneland, but that was in a six-horse allowance race and not a stakes. This is a big step up in class and he’s a deserved longshot here.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo TRAINER: Paulo Lobo
2. Congruent (30-1): He’s a stakes winner last time out, but that was in the Laurel Futurity, which was an off-the-turf stakes on a sloppy track. His speed figures are well below the top choices, meaning he faces a steep uphill climb here.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Antonio Sano
3. Cave Rock (4-5): He was priced as an odds-on favorite for some very legitimate reasons. He’s 3-for-3 in California, has won two Grade 1 stakes, and has a combined winning margin of 16 ½ lengths in that trio of wins. Oh, and he’s trained by Baffert, who has five Juvenile wins to his credit. It’s hard to look past him.
JOCKEY: Juan Hernandez TRAINER: Bob Baffert
4. Forte (4-1): One of the main threats in this field, he’s a horse for the course after winning the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity here at Keeneland at the same 1 1/16-mile distance as the Juvenile. He had to work hard to edge Loggins in that race and showed a nice turn of determination to prevail. There’s much to like here.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
5. Verifying (10-1): Won his debut at Saratoga and then finished second on a sloppy track in the Champagne Stakes after leading in mid-stretch. He’s by Triple Crown winner Justify so he should be handle the two turns and could figure in the exotics.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Brad Cox
6. Blazing Sevens (6-1): He took a nice step forward in the Champagne, winning by 3 ¼ lengths after failing to fire in the Hopeful Stakes and finishing 12 lengths behind the victorious Forte. His last two races were in the slop but he won easily on a fast track in his debut and figures to handle the conditions, whatever they may be.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Chad Brown
7. Wound Up (30-1): He’s making his dirt debut after three starts on turf, only one of which was a victory. Can’t say the chances of him becoming a Grade 1 winner are intriguing, even though his pedigree indicates he should be better on dirt than turf.
JOCKEY: Mario Gutierrez TRAINER: Michael McCarthy
8. Lost Ark (20-1): An interesting longshot. He had a rough trip in the Breeders’ Futurity, so draw a line through that one. He won his two previous starts, one of them a stakes, by a combined 13 lengths and was sent off at only 6.29-1 in the Breeders’ Futurity. Wouldn’t be a shock to see him in the picture at the end.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
9. Curly Jack (20-1): He won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs around two turns at 1 1/16 miles, which was a highly promising effort. The post doesn’t help, but ignoring someone with a two-turn graded stakes win to his credit could lead to exasperation when the horses cross the wire.
JOCKEY: Edgar Morales TRAINER: Tom Amoss
10. National Treasure (8-1): The longshot of Baffert’s duo. He was second behind stablemate Cave Rock in the American Pharoah, albeit he was 5 ¼ lengths behind. He could take a step forward off that race and be more competitive here but post 10 complicates matters.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Bob Baffert
THE PICK: Cave Rock
LIVE LONGSHOT: Verifying