What to Know About the Future Stars Friday Breeders’ Cup Races at Keeneland

Aunt Pearl (#5) took control early to win the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The weekend racing fans wait for all year long is almost here. The top horses in the country and many from around the world will travel to Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The action kicks off on Friday, Nov. 4, with five races for 2-year-olds. “Future Stars Friday” will feature three races on grass: the Juvenile Turf Sprint, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the Juvenile Turf, as well as the two most prominent 2-year-old races that will be run all year, the NetJets Juvenile Fillies and the FanDuel Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Both the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies are run at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The winners of those races usually win Eclipse Awards as the champion of their respective divisions.

Let’s take a look at some key things to know about each of the Friday races.

Love Reigns (Susie Raisher/NYRA)

Juvenile Turf Sprint

Distance: 5 ½ furlongs on turf

Post time: 3 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 5, All-Turf $3 Pick 3

Background: It’s hard to believe that this relative newcomer race on the Breeders’ Cup program will be run for the fifth time in 2022 after debuting in 2018. Trainer Wesley Ward has dominated this race, having won it three times in a row with Four Wheel Drive in 2019, Golden Pal in 2020, and Twilight Gleaming in 2021. Four Wheel Drive and Golden Pal went off as favorites. Twilight Gleaming paid $12.40 in a field of 12. The Todd Pletcher-trained Bulletin won the inaugural running at odds of 4.30-1 in 2018.

Favorites: Ward is likely to be represented in this year’s Juvenile Turf Sprint field with Love Reigns, who blew away maidens by 9 ¾ lengths in her Keeneland course and distance career debut in April. She then went to Royal Ascot for her second start in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, where she finished fourth. Love Reigns returned stateside to win the $150,000 Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga, after which she has been trained up to the Breeders’ Cup.

The Platinum Queen will give Europe its best chance for its first victory in this race. She is shipping over for trainer Richard Fahey off a win in the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp, held at five furlongs on a straightaway and over very soft turf. On the west coast meanwhile, Speed Boat Beach has been very fast in winning his first two career starts for trainer Bob Baffert, first posting a maiden win on the dirt at Del Mar and then a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” victory on turf in the Speakeasy Stakes going five furlongs at Santa Anita Park.

Interesting storylines: Tyler’s Tribe, the undefeated Iowa-bred who has dominated all of his races so far at Prairie Meadows, will be a headline storyline in the first Breeders’ Cup race of the weekend. Not only will Tyler’s Tribe be a rare Iowa-bred racing in the Breeders’ Cup, but he will come in with a perfect 5-for-5 record, with those victories coming by a combined total of 59 ¾ lengths. From the first crop of sire Sharp Azteca, who is currently leading all freshman sires by wins in North America, Tyler’s Tribe was purchased for $34,000 from an Iowa yearling sale by owner Tom Lepic and trainer Tim Martin. The gelding was named for Lepic’s grandson Tyler Juhl, who has endured a two-year struggle to overcome leukemia. Eight-year-old Tyler has been to all of Tyler’s Tribe’s races and is the horse’s biggest fan.

Wonder Wheel (Coady Photography)

NetJets Juvenile Fillies

Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt

Post Time: 3:40 p.m. ET

Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 4, Juvenile Fillies-Distaff double

Background: One of Friday’s “original seven” Breeders’ Cup races along with the Juvenile, the Juvenile Fillies has been a staple of the Breeders’ Cup since the event’s inception in 1984. The winner of this race is almost always voted the Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old filly, including all of the last eight winners up through Echo Zulu in 2021. Despite Echo Zulu’s win at the favorite last year, this race is typically not friendly to favorites. My Miss Aurelia in 2011 and Songbird in 2015 are the only other favorites to win the past 11 years. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has been the king of this race during his illustrious career, winning it six times (1985, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2014). He will be represented in this year’s field by longshot Naughty Gal.

Favorites: The winner of the course-and-distance Darley Alcibiades Stakes was Wonder Wheel, who went wire-to-wire to hold off Chop Chop for trainer Mark Casse. Wonder Wheel also won July’s Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs and was second in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga. If she is not the favorite, that honor will likely go to the Todd Pletcher-trained Chocolate Gelato, who made a last-to-first move to defeat five opponents in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes.

Interesting Storylines: Jockey Joel Rosario has won the Juvenile Fillies three of the last four years with Echo Zulu in 2021, Vequist in 2020, and Jaywalk in 2018. This year Rosario seems to have a choice between Chop Chop, who just missed by a nose when second in the Alcibiades for trainer Brad Cox, or You’re My Girl, who was the front-running John Terranova-trained second-place finisher in the Frizette. You’re My Girl has been supplemented into the Breeders’ Cup for $100,000 by her connections.

Delight (Eclipse Sportswire)

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Distance: 1 mile on turf

Post Time: 4:20 p.m. ET

Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3

Background: This race is somewhat of an anomaly amongst the grass races run on Breeders’ Cup weekend in that it has been dominated by U.S.-based fillies in its 14-year history since first being run in 2008, with only two winning European invaders and none since 2013 (Flotilla won in 2012, Chriselliam in 2013). In 2020, Europeans did finish second, third, and fourth but they could not catch wire-to-wire winner Aunt Pearl, who was bred in Ireland but campaigned in the United States by Brad Cox. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has owned two Juvenile Turf winners: More Than Real in 2010 and last year’s winner Pizza Bianca.

Favorites: Keeneland’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes has proven to be one of the most important prep races through the years for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the results of the former take on added significance when the latter is run at Keeneland on the same course and at the same distance. The last time the Breeders’ Cup was contested at Keeneland, the Juvenile Fillies Turf was won by the Jessamine winner, Aunt Pearl. The winner of this year’s Jessamine was Delight, who went wire-to-wire to draw off to an impressive five-length victory for trainer Jonathan Thomas.

The top European hope in the 2022 Juvenile Fillies Turf is likely to be Meditate, trained by Aidan O’Brien. Meditate has racked-up a record of four wins and two seconds in six lifetime starts so far but has not yet raced at a distance beyond seven furlongs. She will stretch out for the first time in in the Breeders’ Cup coming off back-to-back seconds in the Group 1 six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket and the seven-furlong Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh.

Interesting storylines: One big reason for the success of American fillies in this race has been trainer Chad Brown, who has single-handedly won five of the 14 runnings of the race, including Newspaperofrecord (2018), Rushing Fall (2017), New Money Honey (2016), Lady Eli (2014), and Maram in the inaugural running in 2008. Chad Brown lost in 2021 when Haughty finished third and Consumer Spending finished sixth, but he will try to re-assert his dominance in the 2022 Juvenile Fillies Turf with his top contender this year, Free Look, who exits a second-place finish by three-quarters of a length over yielding turf at Belmont at the Big A in her last race, the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes.

Cave Rock (BENOIT photo)

FanDuel Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt

Post Time: 5 p.m. ET

Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Juvenile-Classic double

Background: Arguably the feature race on Breeders’ Cup Friday, the Juvenile has been one of the Breeders’ Cup’s marquee events since the first Breeders’ Cup in 1984. Featuring the best and most precocious 2-year-old colts and geldings in the land, the Juvenile is the place where the search unofficially begins for the next year’s Kentucky Derby winner. Most Juvenile winners, including Corniche who won the 2021 running for trainer Bob Baffert, and Essential Quality who won in 2020 for Brad Cox, go on to win the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. The race, however, has not been a good predictor of Kentucky Derby winners. Only two winners in the history of the race won the Derby the following year, Street Sense in 2006 and Nyquist in 2015.

Favorites: Cave Rock, trained by Bob Baffert, has begun his career 3-for-3 including wins in the Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita Park and is expected to be the heavy favorite. This race is often viewed as an east vs. west match-up, but if that’s the case, the Juvenile has had more of a west coast tilt the last decade with recent winners like Storm the Court (trained by Peter Eurton) in 2019 and Nyquist (Doug O’Neill) in 2015 and a trio of Baffert-trained winners the last decade, New Year’s Day in 2013, Game Winner in 2018, and Corniche last year. The top eastern-based challenge is likely to come from Todd Pletcher’s multiple Grade 1 winner Forte, who took Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes and Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.

Interesting Storylines: Will the 2022 produce some of the principal contenders for the 2023 Triple Crown? The 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile failed to yield one single starter in the 2022 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. It was a different story in 2020, however, when the Juvenile proved to be a sterling edition of the race, producing a several future stars like winner Essential Quality, plus Hot Rod Charlie, Jackie’s Warrior, and Rombauer, who finished second, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Major Dude (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Juvenile Turf

Distance: 1 mile on the turf

Post Time: 5:40 p.m. ET

Wagering menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, Juvenile Turf-Turf double

Background: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was first held in 2007. Unlike its filly counterpart on the Breeders’ Cup card, Europeans have historically done very well in this race. European-trained invaders have won 10 of the first 15 editions. Americans have completed the exacta by running 1-2 in this race only twice, in 2010 and 2019. In 2020 when Fire at Will pulled off the upset for Mike Maker, Europeans still managed to finish second, fourth, and fifth. The 2021 running of the Juvenile Turf was just the opposite. Trainer Charlie Appleby’s European invader Modern Games won the race, while the second- through ninth-place finishers were all based in North America.

Favorites: Appleby will be at it again in the Juvenile Turf. He will send out the probable favorite for Godolphin, Silver Knott, who exits a win in the Group 3 Emirates Autumn Stakes at Newmarket for his third career victory. Aidan O’Brien will also have two contenders in the field, Cairo and Victoria Road.

The best hope for the Americans may be the Todd Pletcher-trained Major Dude, the winner of the Grade 2 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont at the Big A. Pletcher was the first American trainer to win this race back in 2010 with Pluck. Chad Brown’s Pilgrim runner-up, I’m Very Busy, will also get plenty of support. Brown won this race in 2019 with Structor.

Interesting Storylines: Bettors and racing fans will simply be seeking some normalcy in the 2021 running of the Juvenile Turf after the fiasco that happened in the race last year, when, through a strange and unlikely series of events, horseplayers were not able to have their bets processed on the eventual winner of the race, Modern Games, who ran for purse money only. Win bets were paid on the second-place finisher, Tiz the Bomb. It all stemmed from an incident in the starting gate before the race when Albahr reared up and fell and got trapped under the gate, which forced the rest of the field to be backed out of the gate. Modern Games was in the stall next door to Albahr and was inadvertently scratched from the race by the stewards. Track veterinarians intervened and ruled Modern Games was not injured and physically fit to race. The judges allowed Modern Games to race for purse money only – and wouldn’t you know, he proved much the best that day and won the race. Adding to the happy ending, Albahr was not seriously injured.

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