by Jerry Shottenkirk
October 27, 2018
The 2-year-old races are stacked one on top of the other for the first of the two Breeders’ Cup days, and it got me thinking of Arazi and Bertrando.
Clearly, Arazi’s win in the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was as good as any performance in BC history, but after 27 years, it might be time to give it up to Bertrando as well. It was one of the finest second-place finishes, despite losing to Arazi by five. Bertrando was like the prize fighter who for a split second didn’t have his mind on the game. Arazi hit him with horse racing’s equivalent of a roundhouse. It wasn’t enough to completely knock out Bertrando’s lights, but Arazi had all the momentum and coasted. Still, on a daily basis we see speed horses cave him when headed. That day, second was going to be the best Bertrando could do, but man was it a good one.
It you’ve waited around for the next Arazi-like performance from a 2-year-old, well, you’ve spend some time on it. There hasn’t been one.
We like to look for tomorrow’s stars, and Breeders’ Cup has all five of its 2-year-old races set for Friday. It’s sporty to play the 2-year-olds. I’ve sat with folks who would probably rather bet the direction of the wind or probability of precip before diving in on the youngsters. That’s fine; to each his own.
The biggest attention grabber will be on Game Winner, the Bob Baffert-trained son of Candy Ride who has won all three starts, including a pair of Grade Is in the Del Mar Futurity and American Pharoah. He’ll likely be short on the board and, like the championship Kansas City Royals ballclub of three years back, will attempt “keep the line moving” in the Baffert stable, as far as becoming a Derby favorite next spring.
While there’s plenty of time in which to peruse the past performances after the final entries are drawn, here’s what jumped off each page as I gave first look at all these juvies:
On the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Big Drink of Water has great running lines but has never raced on turf but is 4 of 5 and has won stakes over three different tracks – all of which are all-weather surfaces. Anyone familiar with trainer Larry Rivelli knows his barn can strike anytime.
On the subject of barns that are prone to lots of success, Wesley Ward Moonlight Romance, who won both U.S. turf starts and then dwelt in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot. Soldier’s Call, the winner of that race, has done very little wrong and will get his fair share of attention for trainer Archie Watson.
The girls get their own turf sprint as well, and the Charles Appleby-trained La Pelosa made the most of her North American bow last time as she powered from 11th and won the Grade I Natalma at Woodbine and has OK, but not a standout in her previous races in Europe. Chad Brown trainee Newspaperofrecord is perfect in two races and won each in early fashion. After the maiden score at Saratoga, she won the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont. The competition increases exponentially, but it’s difficult to find a fault at this point.
The Juvenile Fillies race on the main track looks like a dandy, and one immediately wonders about the chances of Serengeti Empress. The Tom Amoss charge has won three of four and her wins were accomplished by a total of 37.5 lengths. She won the Grade II Pocahontas by 19 lengths. And then there’s the Kenny McPeek-trained Restless Rider, who won the Grade I Alcibiades and also is three of four. So many in the Juvenile Fillies race are capable and the betting on this one will be as interesting and intriguing as any race on this day.
The Juvenile Turf is a blend of shippers and native colts, and Broome comes in from a neck loss in a Grade I at Longchamp. He’s one of 18 that Aidan O’Brien pre-entered and will have no shortage of attention.
Jason Servis trainee Uncle Benny rolled from far back and was a going-away winner of a Futurity at six furlongs on the Belmont turf. I have no problem watching and playing the 2-year-old races, and Friday will mark a lot of these for the future.