By Ray Wallin
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is often the first time that the best 2-year old colts and geldings from around the country will face off against one another. The unpredictable nature of 2-year old horses who are still developing and trying new surface and distances can lead to some very exciting races and finishes, not to mention some healthy payouts.
Whether you are a casual horseplayer, or you make your living playing the races, it’s time to sit back and enjoy my top 10 finishes in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
1992 gave us one of the best stretch duels in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile history. River Special would have a small lead over Gilded Time at the top of the stretch. He would lose it, regain it, and lose it again as they neared the finish line finishing in third place. Gilded Time fought valiantly to regain the lead and to then hold off the late running It’sali’lknownfact who was up for second.
After a poor break and some traffic, Unbridled’s Song worked his way back into contention by the top of the stretch. He would battle Hennessey down the entire stretch and prevail giving jockey Mike Smith the first of his two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victories.
In 1985, Storm Cat was the favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He had the perfect trip and would take the lead as they hit the top of the stretch. Yet the horse that was sitting in eighth place would be the story this day. Storm Cat was clear of the field by a few lengths only to have Tasso chasing him down from the outside for a photo finish at the wire.
I remember the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile vividly. I was all over Shanghai Bobby in this race. My gut turned when I saw He’s Had Enough draw even with him during the stretch. Yet Shanghai Bobby hadn’t had enough and came back to get back out on the lead. The lead would shorten with each stride to the wire as he hung on by a nose. It would be Todd Pletcher’s second win in this race and the first for jockey Rosie Napravnik.
In 2000, Macho Uno would get a great pressing trip and then hold on long enough to defeat future Hall of Famer Point Given. Sitting off the pace throughout the race allowed Macho Uno to be in great position at the top of the stretch. Point Given wasn’t on the screen for most of the race, but he showed up for a dramatic finish.
In 2016, Julien Leparoux would guide Classic Empire to the lead over a tiring Syndergaard by the top of the stretch. Enjoying a two-length lead, Not This Time would make a big run in the final sixteenth, but Classic Empire would hold on to win giving both Leparoux and trainer Mark Casse their first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victories.
In 2009, all eyes were on favorite Lookin At Lucky. Yet it would be the Irish horse, Vale of York that had the best luck that day. He was a well placed fourth as they hit the top of the stretch but needs to move off the rail to make a move which bested Lookin At Lucky by a head that day.
In 2011, Hanson released the single “Give a Little.” In the same year, a 2-year-old gray colt named Hansen would give a lot and take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in front running fashion beating favorite Union Rags by a head.
After a nice stalking trip sitting a couple of lengths off the leaders in 1998, Answer Lively was ready to make his move to take the lead at the top of the stretch. When he looks like he may get clear of the field Aly’s Alley pops over to take the rail with Cat Thief racing to his right. He would dig in to prevent the 76-1 Aly’s Alley from catching him at the wire.
In 1996, Boston Harbor would set the pace opening a three-length lead at the top of the stretch. Acceptable would overcome being wide early to make a move. He would get within a half of length of the leader, but Boston Harbor would have enough gas in the tank to hold him off through the final sixteenth.
Any time you have untested and improving young horses anything can happen on the track. I expect this year’s running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita to provide some value and excitement.
Who do you think will win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile this year?
Below are links to previously published Top 10 Best Finishes in Breeders’ Cup races:
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.
Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.
Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.
Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at www.jerseycapper.blogspot.com Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.