2019 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Predictions and Expert Betting Picks
The new schedule for the Breeders' Cup does a massive disservice to the Juvenile. This Kentucky Derby preview deserves the prominent spot on Saturday it has always had. Recently, though, it has been shifted to what has become an underwhelming Friday card, where it now headlines the Futures Friday card made up of two-year-old races. This typically fascinating race deserves better.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2019 has just nine entries, which is well below the norm. And unless things really go haywire, it's really just a race between about three and a half horses, with a bunch of long shots just along for the ride. Here is how the class of this depth-lacking field sets up, with track morning line odds:
Dennis' Moment (8/5): Irad Ortiz Jr. rides this Dale Romans colt here. In his first race he lost his rider early but showed how athletic he was to stay on his feet in a situation that could really have gotten ugly. To maintain his confidence, Roman sent him to Ellis Park for his next start. That step down in class is odd on the surface, but Romans likes to make that move to give his better horses a chance to run against weaker competition and learn to win. And Dennis' Moment sure learned how to win that day, dominating by a ridiculous 19 lengths. It was a lousy field, but the effort was good enough to beat most stakes fields. He returned to Romans' home base of Churchill Downs next for the Iroquois and won very professionally in his stakes debut. He didn't even race down the stretch, or he could have truly crushed a field he already badly outclassed. He's the real deal and is on the right trajectory. The trip across the country is always a concern for young colts, but he is bred well, has trained like he's possessed, and has looked comfortable since arriving at Santa Anita. He's the one to beat, but he's not an unstoppable force.
Eight Rings (2/1): How you feel about the Patriots dynasty will determine what you think of this horse - his name is for the eight Super Bowl rings won by Bill Belichick. The colt will be very heavily bet and could easily be the post time favorite, because he is trained by California-based legend Bob Baffert, and because he won a Grade 1 at Santa Anita last time out. Like Dennis' Moment, he has run three times, and like the favorite he lost a jockey in one of those outings - though it was the second start in this case. He bookended that setback with a dominant maiden win at Del Mar, and a dominant win in the American Pharoah last time out. He has excellent early speed, and that will suit him well in this race where there isn't a lot of natural speed. I'm likely to bet on him, but then I am admittedly incapable of being objective about young Baffert colts.
Maxfield (3/1): This colt, owned and bred by the massive Godolphin empire, has also won twice but has taken only two tries to do it. He broke his maiden narrowly at Churchill, then won the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in dominant fashion last time out. He's a son of Street Sense, who won both this race and the Kentucky Derby, and his damsire is Preakness winner Bernardini, so the talent is clear. He has won in deep closing fashion both times, though, and it doesn't feel like there is enough early speed to set up the race he will want. I put him a notch behind the top two but well ahead of the rest of the field.
Scabbard (8/1): The most interesting thing about this colt is that he had his name changed after his second start. He was given the unfortunate name Noose originally, but the owners came to their senses as the horse gained some prominence. He broke his maiden with style at Churchill but then was second in the Saratoga Special and in the Iroquois. He seems a notch below the best.
Anneau D'or (15/1): I include this horse not because I think he's even sort of a contender - he's not unless things really blow up. I just wanted to show how quickly things fall off after the top four. This, the fifth choice in the field, has started just once. He won impressively, but it was on turf at Golden Gate. So, he is unproven on this surface and is taking a massive step up in class from a minor league track to the biggest of venues. And he's been training at Golden Gate, too, so his works have been on an artificial surface, not the dirt of this race. He doesn't particularly belong here, yet he's better than the four horses at longer odds.
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