After a wide-trip victory in the Pilgrim (G3), the Chad Brown-trained Structor carved out a better passage in the $920,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) on “Future Stars Friday” at Santa Anita. Unlike market leaders Arizona and Decorated Invader who had a mountain to climb closing on the outside from far back, the 5-1 odds chance pounced from a ground-saving perch in midpack. Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s unbeaten colt is now set to switch to dirt with the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail looming.
Ironically, winning rider Jose Ortiz picked up the mount when his brother, Irad Jr., chose to stick with Decorated Invader. Breaking from post 2, Structor was reserved within hailing distance of a steady pace that put deep closers at a disadvantage. Front runner Graceful Kitten posted fractions of :23.14, :47.55, and 1:11.68 on the firm turf. Collared in the stretch, Graceful Kitten bounced off the rail as he retreated.
Meanwhile, the two nearest stalkers made their bids for glory at massive odds. The 116-1 Proven Strategies struck first, but Billy Batts overtook him inside the final furlong and threatened a 55-1 upset.
Although Structor got shuffled back on the far turn, he had less ground to negotiate. The gaps came upon straightening, Ortiz maneuvered, and Structor had the gears to capitalize. He mowed down Billy Batts to finish the mile in 1:35.11.
“He broke alertly,” Ortiz recapped, “and I was able to save ground all the way around. I wanted to ask him to run sooner, but I had nowhere to go at the three-eighths pole. Once we got into the clear, he really finished strong. He’s a very nice horse.”
The tactically advantaged Billy Batts held second by a neck from the 67-1 Gear Jockey, who also raced forwardly early but had to negotiate traffic in third. Decorated Invader did well to rally for fourth after racing near the rear. So did Aidan O’Brien’s 2-1 favorite Arizona. Off a beat slow, Arizona never got to use his tactical speed buried way back in the pack, but flew for fifth, only a neck off Decorated Invader and beaten a grand total of 1 3/4 lengths.
O’Brien indicated that Arizona is likely bound for next spring’s 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket.
“With him getting a bit slowly away, Ryan (Moore) had to accept the position in which he found himself,” the master of Ballydoyle said. “I don’t think it was a fast pace, which also didn’t help him, but we’re not too disappointed. He’s going to be a lovely three-year-old and I’d imagine he’ll go straight to the Guineas now.”
Proven Strategies checked in sixth. O’Brien second-stringer Fort Myers and Hit the Road dead-heated for seventh, but Hit the Road was demoted to last for interfering with Deviant. Next came Our Country, Andesite, War Beast, Peace Achieved, Graceful Kitten, and Deviant, eased home after clipping heels. Vitalogy was a vet scratch.
Structor continued a pedigree theme begun in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) won by Four Wheel Drive, a son of freshman sire American Pharoah out of a More Than Ready mare. The Juvenile Turf also turned into a first-crop showcase as Structor is by another freshman, Palace Malice, and More Than Ready is his broodmare sire as well. Structor’s dam, Miss Always Ready, is a full sister to 2010 Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) queen More Than Real.
Now a perfect three-for-three, Structor has bankrolled $709,500. The bay colt brought $850,000 at OBS March, with renowned bloodstock agent Mike Ryan signing the ticket on the Pick View consignee. He was a pinhook success as a $160,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Marquee Bloodstock.
Structor started out on turf in order to get a route of ground, rather than be subjected to the baptism of fire of a Saratoga dirt maiden. Successful first up at the Spa August 31, he added the September 28 Pilgrim.
Brown, who was notching his 13th career Breeders’ Cup victory, but first in the Juvenile Turf, noted that Structor continues to progress:
He’s just improving so much every week, this horse. We’ve always thought a lot of him and he’s come in here and been improving week to week. His last race was very impressive to me. We thought he was sitting on another good race.
Irad (Ortiz) opted for the other horse and that’s how it goes. Jose was obviously a very capable replacement having been one of the leading jockeys now for the last couple years. We had a lot of confidence in him and I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.
Yes, he had a great post but he made all the right calls. He just rode an outstanding race and the horse ran an outstanding race. My staff did a great job bringing this horse along.
I’m going to try this horse on dirt at some point. He trains very well on it. He deserves it and he’s got the right running style to potentially run on both surfaces.”