Looking ahead to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile and early 2017 Kentucky Derby Contenders

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October 18th 2016

With the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race coming up in 18 days on November 5th, it is time to take a closer look at the possible entries  for that race which serves as a nice preview of next year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. 

As I have maintained in previous blogs, this is a very deep and talented crop. In terms of Beyer Speed Figures and times, the 2017 Kentucky Derby class appears to be much better than last year’s at this stage of the game and it is probably better than California Chrome’s class three years ago. 

I will be at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships again this year to view this race as well as all the others. Here are eight 2-year-old colts to keep an eye on. Note: An asterisk indicates horses who have won a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Contenders 

1) Not This Time Dale Romans is very high on this Giant’s Causeway colt, calling him “spooky good”. He reminds him of his half-brother Brody’s Cause. He is also Liam’s Map half-brother, the two sharing the same dam (mother) in Miss Macy Sue.  He has won his last two starts by nearly 19 lengths and seems to be able to kick it into a higher gear with great acceleration in the final couple of furlongs. We probably won’t get the full understanding of what he can really do until he races against some stiffer competition.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>1st
Sire: Giant’s Causeway
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:35.99 – 2016 Ellis Park MSW 8/12/16
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:45.22 (muddy conditions) – 2016 Iroquios Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 86 – 2016 Iroquios Stakes

2) Classic Empire– American Pharoah’s half-brother. Looks like Blinkers On helped him through his gate issues in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. I have been very high on the Pioneerof the Nile colt and wrote about him back in July (SEE). He is right where I thought he would be after his hiccup in the Hopeful Stakes.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>DNF–>1st
Sire: Pioneerof the Nile  (Finished 2nd in 2009 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:36.89*  – time from 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.412016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity

3) GormleyHe comes from the same owner/trainer combination that produced Zenyatta. He earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the 2nd start of his career–the FrontRunner Stakes (shown below)–beating the race favorite Klimt. So far, this is the highest Beyer Speed Figure for a 2 year-old at more than a mile distance. My only concern is, he probably won’t be able to run like he did in FrontrRunner Stakes and win a 10 furlong race. But give him credit, he used the rail post to his advantage and didn’t tire at the end. Expect many more Gormley vs Klimt battles on the west coast in the future.

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: N/A–>1st–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: John Shirreffs (2005 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Victor Espinosa (2002, 2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest Mile Time: 1:36.87* – time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.57 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes

4) Klimt  Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Bob Baffert–the same combination that produced Bayern and Dortmund. He lost to Gormley in the FrontRunner Stakes but gained valuable experience sitting off the pace as a stalker. Klimt’s sire Quality Road won the Florida Derby, Met Mile, Donn Handicap, Woodward Stakes. Quality Road suffered two quarter cracks that prevented him from competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:37.51* – estimated time from 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.05 (calculated) – 2016 FrontRunner Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Del Mar Futurity

5) Practical JokeThe Chad Brown-trainee now has two Grade 1 stakes wins. His time of 1:34.68 in the Champagne Stakes was a great time, even considering that this was a one turn race. However, like Syndergaard whom he beat by a nose, neither have competed in a two-turn race thus far. This is why both aren’t ranked higher. Plus, East Coast colts haven’t fared as well as their West Coast counterparts the past few years on the Derby trail. Practical Joke is the son of Into Mischief. I have some pedigree concerns and especially beyond 9 furlongs. 

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  1:34.682016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 – 2016 Champagne Stakes

6) Syndergaard  He lost by a nose to Practical Joke in the Champagne. This Todd Pletcher-trainee has an average Beyer Speed Figure of 88 in 3 starts. However, I am concerned that he will like distance. His sire Majesticperfection was a sprinter that didn’t race until he was 4 years old but won 5 out of 6 sprint races.

Career: 3 Starts 2-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Majesticperfection
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time: 1:34.69 (calculated) – 2016 Champagne Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2016 Funny Cide Stakes

7) Three Rules – He has owned the 2 year-old races at Gulfstream Park thus far and is the current winnings leader for 2 year-old colts at $680,640. His sire Gone Astray never raced further than 9 furlongs and his biggest win was the 2009 Pennsylvania Derby. He appears to be the early favorite for the Florida Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 5-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Gone Astray
Trainer: Jose Pinchin
Jockey: Cornelio Velasquez
Fastest Mile Time: 1:37.81 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:44.63 – 2016 Florida In Reality Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2016 Florida Dr Fagar Stakes

8) Theory When it comes to the pedigree, trainer and jockey combination, Theory is probably the most attractive 2 year-old colt. Trained by Todd Pletcher who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. Ridden by jockey John Velazquez who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom. Theory has raced twice at the 6 furlong distance and received 85 Beyer Speed Figures for both races. His sire Gemologist went undefeated in five starts heading into the 2012 Kentucky Derby where he finished 16th. 

Career: 2 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Sire: Gemologist (Finished 16th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 Mile Time:  N/A
Fastest 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 85 – 2016 Futurity Stakes

In addition to the above horses, here are three more talented 2 year-olds that could be entries in the Juvenile race: Royal Copy, Big Gray Rocket and Lookin At Lee.

–Michael

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