- The Breeders Cup is this weekend and it kicks off with Future Stars Friday
- Jack Christopher and Corniche are looking to stamp themselves Kentucky Derby favorites in the Breeders Cup Juvenile
- Where can we find betting value Friday at Del Mar?
The Breeders Cup began in 1984 and for the first time, horse racing had a true championship day. While there have always been many big races, and some towards the end of the year that helped determine yearly divisional titles, this formalized the process and brought together all the best horses in the country, and sometimes the world.
In 2007 and 2008 more races were added, and the event was expanded to two days. The current format has all of the two-year-old races on Friday, with the more experienced runners taking the track on Saturday. That means on Friday we get a glimpse at what the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks may look like next year, plus get to see top young grass horses and sprinters.
Between large fields, expected great weather in Southern California, and robust purses, the Breeders Cup features high-end racing with lots of factors to consider when you bet. There won’t be too many very short prices, meaning if you pick winners value will usually be present.
Let’s look carefully at the Breeders Cup Juvenile, the first serious Kentucky Derby prep race, and then discuss each of the other four races on Friday.
2021 Breeders Cup Juvenile Odds
|Tough To Tame||+3300|
Odds as of November 3rd
The Juvenile will be run at a-mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt, and being too far outside isn’t ideal with just a short run to the first turn (you don’t want to race too wide if you can avoid it). The $2 million purse guarantees all the top two-year-olds will run, though for those thinking ahead to the Kentucky Derby, consider some Run for the Roses contenders who haven’t even debuted yet.
Street Sense and Nyquist are the only two horses to win the Juvenile and Kentucky Derby, but Essential Quality got close last year. While low-priced horses have won two of the last three runnings, in 2019 Storm the Court scored at +4600.
Post time for the first Breeders Cup race (Juvenile Turf Sprint) Friday is slated for 5:50 pm EST, with the Juvenile getting going at 7:50 pm. NBC Sports Network has television coverage
Jack Christopher has been terrific in two career races. He dominated maidens at Saratoga in his debut and returned to run about as impressive a race as you will ever see from a two-year-old at Belmont Park early last month.
The questions about Jack Christopher revolve around his breeding. The son of Munnings does not look like he wants really long races that much. The Juvenile will be his first two-turn test. How will he like going around a second bend, and stretching out an extra sixteenth of a mile, particularly in a field that should apply plenty of pace pressure?
Corniche is marooned out in the number 12 post position, furthest from the rail. It wasn’t an issue in his career debut when he was in the number 10 stall, but the Bob Baffert-trained speedster had plenty of space to get to the front and move inside in that one-turn affair. He was on the fence from the get-go last month.
Though Corniche was impressive last time out, his speed figure came up much stronger from his first race. Could he prefer sprints to distance racing? What will happen if he endures a speed dual on Friday?
Baffert also saddles Pinehurst. Like Jack Christopher and Corniche, he is two-for-two. Pinehurst will be trying two turns for the first time in the Breeders Cup after looking smooth last time out.
Pinehurst’s jockey during his first two races, Mike Smith, has opted to ride Corniche on Friday.
Commandperformance was the runner-up to Jack Christopher in the Champagne Stakes. His style differs from the other top contenders, he likes to rally late. With a lot of early speed entered, that tactic might be an ideal one. His speed figure, from finishing second last time out, is very competitive with Corniche’s debut.
Oviatt Class was third behind Corniche last time out, but on a speed-favoring track still made headway coming down the stretch and finished with significant interest. If the pace is crazy fast, he should be rolling late.
Pick: Jack Christopher (+150)
The Rest of Friday’s Breeders Cup Races
Things get going with the Juvenile Turf Sprint, a five-furlong grass race open to both genders. At 6:30 pm the Juvenile Fillies is a mile-and-a-sixteenth test for girls on dirt. The Juvenile Fillies Turf is a mile on the grass and is scheduled for 7:10 pm. Day 1 of the Breeders Cup concludes with the Juvenile Turf, a mile on the sod for boys at 8:30 pm EST.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Prediction
While European-based horses often have an edge in international grass races, they have not performed well during the first two runnings of the Turf Sprint (two third-place performances from 15 total runners with no wins or places). Though there are several reasonable options from abroad, that makes Averly Jane the favorite.
Trainer Wesley Ward has won this race both times it has been run, and Averly Jane is one of his three entrants. She is four-for-four and has not been challenged.
Averly Jane has run just once on grass, but the win at Keeneland continued a string of impressive performances. Like several contenders in this race, she will be forwardly placed.
The best of the Europeans may be Armor. She has two wins in six career starts, but has been battling the top competition in the UK and France recently, and finishing among the top group. Trainer Richard Hannon and his father has struggled to bring horses to North American, going 0 for 24 dating back two decades.
Twilight Jet was just behind Armor at Newmarket in late September, and turned around and dominated a weaker field on the same course two weeks later. He seems to be running really well right now.
Of the Europeans, many who have never raced around a turn, Hierarchy won his debut that included a bend, though it was on a synthetic surface. He won on turf in August and is coming off a sharp second, where the winner turned around and beat a field of 27 in a top race.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Prediction
This should be a terrific showdown between Echo Zulu, Juju’s Map, and Hidden Connection.
Echo Zulu is three-for-three and has been dominating in each race.
This will be Echo Zulu’s first two-turn test, but the daughter of Gun Runner has produced the three fastest races of anybody in this field based on speed figures.
Juju’s Map was very impressive as the tepid favorite in a Grade 1 stakes race at Keeneland on October 8. That race mimics this one, two turns going a-mile-and-a-sixteenth against top horses. Her win at Ellis Park on September 3 was visually very strong too.
Hidden Connection has won two races, both by open lengths. She has won going two turns and may have the versatility to run with the leaders, sit back just behind them, or come running hard late
Pick: Echo Zulu
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Prediction
Europeans have won this event just twice in 13 runnings, and not since 2013. Their best chance may be Mise En Scene, who has the brutal far outside post position, number 13. Miss En Scene is among the top Europeans to ever try this event, finishing fourth despite lacking running room against high-end competition last month. She won her first two career races.
Catchet went off at a much bigger price (+2200 vs +750) than Mise En Scene last time out, and didn’t have as difficult a trip, but finished on even terms with that rival. She has the much better spot in the starting gate, number three.
Hello You beat Catchet in September pretty easily. She has never run this far but seems to be peeking.
Of the US-based horses, Koala Princess is two-for-two and though she has never gone around two turns, has breeding that suggests she will like extra distance.
In addition to Koala Princess, Cairo Memories has won both of her starts including one at Del Mar.
While the speed figures from her two races have been light, she has tactical speed to be close, and home-field advantage.
Haughty is another viable American runner. She won her debut, but got disqualified, and then returned to officially graduate from the maiden ranks in mid-October. Trainer Chad Brown has won this race five times, and has indicated he feels strongly Haughty will be a contender in this group.
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Prediction
Heard this before? Dubawi Legend, an Irish bred who has run all three of his races in Great Britain, looks like the class of this field but is stuck in post number 14. Dubawi Legend just finished second in the Dewhurst Stakes, which has produced the BC Juvenile Turf winner three times in the last nine years.
Europeans have won eight of 14 runnings of the Juvenile Turf.
Modern Games has the rail post, and trainer Charlie Appleby is 10 for 27 in North American races over the last five years. He has had a great year across the world, and Modern Games has won back-to-back quality races in Europe.
Glounthaune’s three races across the pond include two wins, but they are not of the quality that Dubawi Legend or Modern Games have competed in. He stumbled at the start and didn’t have great racing luck when finishing behind Dubawi Legend in October. That said, trainer, Aidan O’Brien has sent nine starters out all-time in this race and has four wins and five runner-ups.
Among American-based horses, Mackinnon has won three straight, is working really well, and twice has won at Del Mar. Portfolio Company is trained by Brown and just missed against the well-regarded Annapolis last time out. That was a really strong performance after being ranked in his first two career starts, and still finishing first and second.
Pick: Modern Games