By: Eric DeCoster
Race #10: The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Turf – 1 Mile) 2 YO
Purse: $1 Million
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf wraps up the day one action of this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Outside of the returning winning connections and their representative in this race, there is no true standout in this field. That favorite would be #4 Silver Knott (3-1 ML) for Appleby, Godolphin, and Buick, and he exits a victory in the G3 Autumn S. at Newmarket. A win is a win, but it certainly didn’t feel like a performance that matched some of the performances earlier in his career. He put together a rather mundane 3rd in similar company the start prior to that, but three back he dazzled in the G3 Solario S. and is a lock if he can return to that form. That being said, “IF” is definitely the key takeaway from that statement, and as much as a favorite as Silver Knott is he certainly feels beatable. Oddly enough, there’s only one other overseas runner in this event and he also hails from a powerhouse stable. #1 Victoria Road (8-1 ML) comes in for Aidan O’Brien off of a victory in the G3 Prix de Conde in France, the same prep Line of Duty took out before winning this race in 2018. I don’t know if a mile around an oval fits his physical profile – he seems better equipped for longer at this stage – but I also wouldn’t question the placing of someone like Aidan O’Brien too much. A contender.
The remaining U.S. runners who feel like they have a chance are those who put their best foot forward in their final preps. The G2 Pilgrim S. at Aqueduct produces its 1-2 finishers in #13 Major Dude (10-1 ML) and #8 I’m Very Busy (9/2 ML). It felt as if Major Dude took the right step forward in his turf debut last time out, repelling I’m Very Busy in a big way in the dying stages of that race. However, I found it very telling that Flavien Prat opted for the Chad Brown trainee in here over G2 Bourbon S. winner, #6 Andthewinneris (5-1 ML). He was also very strong when winning on debut and could have the talent and connections to factor. As for Andthewinneris his turn of foot was very notable when winning the Bourbon, but at the same time the race played very well into his hands and the quality of competition feels rather weak. #2 Packs A Wahlop (6-1 ML) will be trying to break historic trends as California-based runners are yet to win a Breeders’ Cup juvenile grass race despite having chances every year. This colt does feel a little bit different and has put together two exceptional victories at the stakes level. I felt his Del Mar Juvenile Turf victory in September was a little better than his most recent win in the Listed Zuma Beach S. at Santa Anita, but nevertheless he is a talented colt who deserves his respect. Finally, #10 Webslinger (20-1 ML) is a bit of a price and only just broke his maiden, but that did come in the $500,000 Listed Nownownow S. at Monmouth in his two turn debut. It was clear this Mark Casse trainee relished the extra ground he was given and took full advantage of it, beating stakes winner and Juvenile Turf Sprint contender Oxymore. If he takes another step forward he could be a player for at least minor awards.
The Choice – #2 Packs A Wahlop
This year’s Juvenile Turf is a tricky race where it feels like you need a lot of options, but the body of work in the U.S. for Packs A Wahlop stands out enough for me to make him my top choice. I think he can sit a great second flight, stalking trip on the inside and take full advantage when the running gets going. That being said, it’s fair to think anybody can take this race out and I plan to go very deep, likely using all of the horses I mentioned in this preview.