November 20, 2018

Five things we learned on Breeders’ Cup ‘Future Stars Friday’

Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography
  1. The best two-year-old probably is not male or a dirt runner.

I tried to beat Newspaperofrecord in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), and she not only made me look foolish for doing so but also asserted herself as the most likely superstar and betting favorite on the inaugural Future Stars Friday card.

Sure, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Game Winner will garner a lot of attention as an undefeated Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite, but Newspaperofrecord has the look of a filly who could shine on international stages such as Royal Ascot and future Breeders’ Cup races.

  1. The best two-year-old male may not have been in the Breeders’ Cup.

Sure, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Game Winner will garner a lot of attention as an undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite, but Improbable has been ultra impressive in both his starts, which included an eye-popping win in the Street Sense Stakes that preceded the Breeders’ Cup races.

Bob Baffert trains both colts, and the Racing Hall of Fame conditioner said that Improbable would target the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in December.

  1. The turf is playing well out in front of the middle of the track.

Of the three front runners in the three turf races, two won and a third – longshot Somelikeithotbrown – held on for third. I don’t mention that as if to suggest there’s a bias per se, but it’s worth noting that when Newspaperofrecord turned for home clearly headed toward victory that she was well off the hedge. Ditto for Bulletin who popped the latch in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and never really moved toward the hedge.

  1. The Juvenile Turf Sprint is a great addition to the Breeders’ Cup

Turf sprints sometimes get an eye roll from handicappers, but the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint was a competitive race with solid representation from all parts of the world. Winner Bulletin helped show that Todd Pletcher is probably among the best multi-surface trainers in the history of horse racing.

  1. Sometimes stewards get it right

Stewards were absolutely right to conduct an inquiry into the final stages of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and made the correct decision in leaving the result as is despite an ugly head on. Line of Duty earned the victory and any antics did not affect the outcome. Overall, I am in favor of letting results stand as is and adjudicating infractions after the races. I.e., don’t punish horseplayers!

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