The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland is typically one of the most important preps for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. After all, for most of the starters it offers a first chance to travel around two turns and it’s also part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which awards the winner a free spot in the Juvenile.
Yet this year it is even more of a dress rehearsal for the World Championships as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile will be contested at Keeneland at the same 1 1/16-mile distance as Saturday’s Breeders’ Futurity.
The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Keeneland, Essential Quality won both the Breeders’ Futurity and the Juvenile … perhaps someone in Saturday’s race can author an encore of that feat.
1. Frosted Departure (10-1 morning-line odds): Took a huge step forward in winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs by 9 1/4 lengths. He has worked out in solid fashion since then and should be a factor here with continued improvement. Would not ignore him.
JOCKEY: Brian J. Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
2. Loggins (4-1): Was a highly impressive debut winner by 8 1/2 lengths at 6 1/2 furlongs. He has to stretch out and face much tougher rivals here but based on a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 in that first race, he could have a very bright future.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
3. Honed (12-1): He rallied from ninth to finish second in the Iroquois Stakes and that effort makes him a contender here. Yet his speed figure was nothing special, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in this field.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
4. Confidence Game (50-1): Won a maiden race easily but then came up empty in the Iroquois, finishing fifth by 10 lengths. Not much to like here.
JOCKEY: James Graham; TRAINER: Keith Desormeaux
5. Instant Coffee (5-1): Turned in a determined effort to win his debut. His 85 Beyer Speed Figure was quite encouraging and he could be an intriguing possibility if the odds are right.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Brad Cox
6. Bourbon Bash (20-1): Broke his maiden by eight lengths in a dazzling performance at Saratoga Race Course. But when he returned in the Hopeful Stakes, he lost by nearly 25 lengths. That was in the slop, which might explain two diverse efforts, and could lead to an improved effort on a dry track.
JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano; TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas
7. Forte (3-1): Won the Hopeful in the slop but was an easy winner on a fast track in his debut, so he should be tough to beat, rain or shine. He has top connections and his pedigree says he will handle two turns. Will be hard to beat on his best try.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
8. Newgate (20-1): Ships in from California for Bob Baffert, a move which always merits attention. He was a smart maiden winner but then lost by 10 lengths to Baffert’s best 2-year-old, Cave Rock. Given his connections, he wasn’t sent here on a whim, so he figures to be a major factor.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
9. Funtastic Again (15-1): Broke his maiden by 6 1/2 lengths in his first start on dirt, but that was in an off-the-turf race. He will face a much bigger challenge here.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Wesley Ward
10. Lost Ark (6-1): He’s been unchallenged in two starts, winning the Sapling Stakes and a maiden race by a combined margin of 13 lengths. This will be an acid test, but given that he won a stakes at a two-turn distance, it would not be a shock if he passes it.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
11. Red Route One (20-1): Broke his maiden on turf and has the breeding to handle dirt, but this seems like an ambitious spot.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
12. Good Heart (20-1): Not a lot to go on here. His one race was a turf win so we’ll pass on him in this spot.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Brendan Walsh
13. Two Phil’s (30-1): He should be in front early based on his efforts in sprints. Whether he’ll be in front at the end is much more problematic. The gut feeling is he won’t hold on.
JOCKEY: Jareth Loveberry; TRAINER: Larry Rivoli
14. Powerful (20-1): Showed some determination in dueling throughout and winning a seven-furlong maiden race. There are some things to like, but unfortunately the post is not one of them.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
Also-Eligible 15. Carmel Road (5-1): He seems the better of the two Baffert entrants but he landed on the also-eligible list. His second start was an 8 3/4-length win and a big improvement over his first effort. From an inside post he would be a major player, but even if he draws into the field, winning from post-position 14 will be a challenge.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
Also-Eligible 16. Jin Tong (50-1): An outsider at 50-1 who was well-beaten in two starts against stakes competition. He would need two defections to draw into the race and would break from a disadvantageous post position should he reach the starting gate.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez; TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
THE PICK: Forte
LIVE LONGSHOT: Newgate
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