Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: The Morning Line

As I count down the hours before departing for the Horse Racing Capital of the World and the 2011 Breeders’ Cup, I am pleased to bring you The Morning Line edition of this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Imagine today’s world class thoroughbreds meeting up together on one random weekend in the Fall where they are allowed to enter into 1 of 15 races that are specifically designed for their respective division. Sounds brilliant, right? Now picture this, each race carries a purse of at least $500k, the richest of which is a whopping $5 Million. But it only keeps getting better. This World Championship affair attracts thoroughbreds, trainers, owners and fans from around the globe. This means that this event is for one specific division above all the rest: Only the Best. Welcome to the Breeders’ Cup!

At The Derby Post there is one separation from the premiere thoroughbreds that will be vying for their place at the table of 2011 Breeders’ Cup Champions and that is our Juveniles. At 1 1/16 Mile and on the Dirt, this race represents the same thing every year – the first big stepping stone on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The 138th Kentucky Derby may indeed be 6 months out but I guarantee that every owner and trainer for each of our Juveniles is already thinking about it.

A total of 13 2-yr-olds are entered to go into the starting gate for the 9th race on your card this Saturday but only one will come away the winner. The lucky youngster will then take on the gut wrenching challenge of becoming only the second horse to ever win both the BC Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. As for the rest of the field it will be time to go back to work in preparation for the next big event, the 1st Saturday in May.

Before we get into our picks and breakdown of the field let’s take a look at our 2-yr-old Juveniles.

Saturday November 5, 2011 –  RACE 9                                                                      Grade 1 $2 Million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile                                              2 YR OLDS  |  1 1/6 Mile  |  Dirt |  Post Time: 5:25

  1. Take Charge Indy       J. Graham              P. Byrne               30-1
  2. Dullahan                     K. Desormeaux      D. Romans            8-1
  3. Crusade                      J. Leparoux            A. O’Brien             12-1
  4. Drill                             M. Garcia                B. Baffert               8-1
  5. Hansen                       R. Dominguez        M. Maker               10-1
  6. Prospective                 L. Contreras           M. Casse              30-1
  7. Creative Cause           J. Rosario               M. Harrington        7-2
  8. Speightcity                  C. Nakatani            G. Contessa          20-1
  9. Alpha                          G. Gomez               K. McLaughlin       15-1
  10. Union Rags                 J. Castellano          M. Matz                 5-2
  11. Daddy Long Legs        R. Moore                A. O’Brien             12-1
  12. Fort Loudon                 L. Jurado               S. Gold                  20-1
  13. Optimizer                     R. Albarado           D. W. Lukas          15-1

*Equipment changes: Drill: blinkers removed. Optimizer: adding blinkers. Crusade and Daddy Long Legs, race with Lasix for the first time.

Where to begin? How bout we start with the 5 horses that are Grade 1 WinnersUnion Rags, Champagne-Belmont 10/8; Creative Cause, Norfolk-Santa Anita 10/1; Dullahan, Breeders’ Futurity-Keeneland 10/8; Crusade, Middle Park Stakes-Newport (GB) 10/8; Drill, Del Mar Futurity-Santa Anita 9/7

The only undefeated horse of these Juvenile contenders is Union Rags. After winning his 5F debut race at Delaware Park, he went on to capture the 6 ½ G2 Saratoga Special before winning the Champagne over 1 Mile. That impressive win clearly made way for Union Rags to claim himself as the one to beat. The only handicapping blemish on his resume is that this will be his first trip around two-turns, something that trainer Micheal Matz doesn’t seem to be too concerned about.

Our top 2 contenders from the West Coast are Creative Cause and Drill. After squaring off in the Del Mar Futurity it was Creative Cause that evened the score in the Norfolk. The Norfolk represents the only major two-turn dirt prep and in this race Creative Cause was no match for the rest of the field as he simply outperformed. In 3 lifetime stakes races (2 G1, 1 G2) Creative Cause carries 2 wins and 1 second. Drill beat him in 1 of those races and finished 2nd in the other. The results in these Graded Stakes races is a behind the scenes look at why these two California Kids are your 2nd and 3rd choice on the Morning Line.

That leaves Crusade and Dullahan. In regards to experience Dullahan clearly has the advantage after racing two graded stakes races over a distance of 1 1/16 mile. Crusade on the other hand enters with only 2 lifetime races (both graded), the longest a 7F sprint in his debut. The key résumé factor for these two is that they both enter the BC Juvenile off a win against Grade1 competition their last time out.

Switching Surfaces. The total number of horses making their debut on the Dirt in this year’s BC Juvenile is 6. They are: Hansen, Take Charge Indy, Prospective, Optimizer, Crusade and Daddy Long Legs. The two Europeans trained by Aidan O’Brien will hit the dirt coming off the Turf while the other four enter after recent races over a synthetic surface. Out of these, the undefeated Hansen is the leading candidate to win.

The picks are In. Before, let’s start with my Top 5: Union Rags, Creative Cause, Hansen, Dullahan and Drill. One that I’m throwing out of my win tickets will be Union Rags. I will only reconsider Union Rags if his odds at post time go the other direction but I don’t see that happening.  So, I am going to play “beat the favorite” which should be a challenge because Union Rags has proved that he is cabable of becoming the top 2-yr-old in the land.

It’s going to very interesting to see how Hansen responds to the pace in this race under newly assigned jockey Ramon Dominguez. In his last race he set the rapid pace but was still able to power down the stretch for the win. I don’t see him being able to repeat that type of win against this field and I am reserved about his move to the dirt off the synthetics at Turfway Park. However, if he’s still lingering around 12-1 he could very easily become an across the board bet.

Pick. While Drill got the best of him once, to me, Creative Cause proved to be the better of the two last time out. Not only did his win out rank him against Drill, it impressed me enough to play him here against the field.  With consistent Beyer speed ratings in the 80’s, I’m taking Creative Cause to unseat the only horse with a Beyer of 90, the favorite Union Rags.

Side bet. Dullahan presented me with a legitimate case, especially with his win at Keeneland where he improved gamely down the stretch after solid fractions in the front. Since I know he can carry the distance, can win from near the rail (PP 3 in Futurity) and has veteran rider Kent Desormeaux aboard, I can’t help but play this colt here.

Live Longshot. With Beyer speed figures never breaking 76, Fort Loudon hasn’t been racing fast but he hasn’t lost either. After sweeping the Florida Stallion Series at Calder, Fort Loudon enters looking for his 5th consecutive win. Since the competition is getting better or faster, maybe he’ll pick up the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

For a look at the entries and odds in each Breeders’ Cup race via the Daily Racing Form, Click Here

It’s going to be another great Breeders’ Cup weekend at Churchill Downs. The Breeders’ Cup is where horses notch their shining moment on the big stage and legends can be made. For our Juveniles, it’s where the road to wearing the roses in the 138th Kentucky Derby can begin. Best of luck to all Breeders’ Cup horses, jockeys, trainers and owners.

 Written by: Little Brink

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