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Breeders' Cup Juvenile Picks 2017
Juvenile Entries and Odds
Like all two-year-old races there is not a lot of past performance information to go on when handicapping the Juvenile, but historically over the past 10 races the favorite has won three - with another running second by a nose after a terrible start - and 11 of the 32 races overall. The winning odds have averaged 8-1 over that time, but that number is somewhat inflated with the 30-1 upset by Vale Of York in 2009. Otherwise, the winning odds have been around 5-1.
The past two winners of the Juvenile have come into the race undeafeated in races they finished prior to running in the Breeders' Cup, and that fits the profile of heavy favorite Bolt d'Oro for trainer Mick Ruis. He was good in winning his career debut and then followed that up with a win in the (G1) Del Mar Futurity, but he really showed his stuff when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time and took the (G1) FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita by almost eight lengths.
Even without being pushed, his time in that race puts him head and shoulders above the rest of this field, and if he can come anywhere near to duplicating that effort he should win this by open lengths. Expect him to be sitting just off the early pace and then opening up as they turn for home.
American-bred UK-based Runner a Puzzle
To consider US Navy Flag as a serious contender in this race requires one to put a lot of faith in trainer Aiden O'Brien. A Kentucky bred who has done all his racing in the UK and Ireland, he has never raced on the dirt before, he's never raced further than seven furlongs, and most of his races have been straight-line dashes - never mind having to go around two turns.
On the other hand, he's won three straight, the last two of those in Group 1 races, he's by far the most experience runner in the field with nine previous starts (no other horse has more than four), his sire was a graded-stakes winner on the dirt, and O'Brien had the chance to start him in the Juvenile Turf and picked this spot instead.
He's regarded as perhaps the best trainer in the world, so he should know what he's doing, and in a race where it seems like it's Bolt d' Oro and then everyone else, he seems worth a flyer at high odds. With the caveat he could also finish dead last.
Behind those two, Free Drop Billy has two wins and two runner-up finishes in four lifetime starts, with three of those at the graded-stakes level. Last out he emerged from mid-pack at the top of the stretch to win the (G1) Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland by four lengths. If someone decides to go out fast and set a blazing pace (US Navy Flag, perhaps?) he could be there to pick up a piece of it if that speed collapses late.
Also to consider in the exotics is Firenze Fire, who finished ahead of Free Drop Billy in the (G3) Sanford Stakes in mid-July, finished behind that one next out in the (G1) Hopeful, and then rebounded off that effort to take the (G1) Champagne. The last of those was at the furthest he's yet run at one mile, and the extra 1/16th here should be to his liking.
Looking for a big bomber to add to the bottom of the exotics, The Tabulator is an unbeaten three-for-three in his young career, last out winning the (G3) Iroqois Stakes at Churchill. His winning times put him on even footing with most of these, but he has yet to take on this class of a field.
The Juvenile goes Saturday, November 4 from Del Mar race track in Del Mar, California. It's race #7 of 9 on Breeders' Cup Day 2, and has an expected post time of 6:58 PM Eastern.
- US Navy Flag (7-1)
- Solomini (12-1)
- Firenze Fire (8-1)
- Givemeaminit (25-1)
- Free Drop Billy (5-1)
- Good Magic (12-1)
- The Tabulator (16-1)
- Bahamian (40-1)
- Hazit (16-1)
- Golden Dragon (66-1)
- Bolt d'Oro (23-20)
- Hollywood Star (25-1)
- #11 - Bolt d'Oro
- #1 - US Navy Flag
- #5 - Free Drop Billy
- #3 - Firenze Fire
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