Padua Stable's Vindication and The Thoroughbred Corporation's Kafwain provided trainer Bob Baffert with a 1-2 finish in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
A son of Seattle Slew who is undefeated in four starts, Vindication dueled with another Baffert trainee, Bull Market, through early fractions of :23 1/5 and :46. Vindication continued to lead through six furlongs in 1:09 4/5 and 1:35 4/5 for a mile. He stopped the timer for 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 3/5.
"I'm just so happy," jockey Mike Smith said. "This colt does what he has to do. He showed 'em. He got away well and took a breather down the backside. But he gave me a burst when I asked."
Trainer Aidan O'Brien's Irish hope, Hold That Tiger, broke last and closed well in the stretch to be third. Bull Market finished fourth, three lengths ahead of Van Nistelrooy. Most Feared, Listen Indy, Tomahawk, Toccet, favored Whywhywhy, Lone Star Sky, and Wando completed the order of finish. Zavata did not finish.
Horses trained by Baffert and O'Brien filled the top five finishing positions, with Baffert horses running 1-2-4.
"I'm proud of all three of them," said Baffert, who was working for three different owners. "It's a great feeling to have so many 2-year-olds."
Vindication paid $10.20, $6.20, and $4.00. Kafwain was worth $16.00 and $8.40, with Hold That Tiger returning $4.60.
"We have a lot of bragging rights until the first Saturday in May," Baffert said. "We know he's talented and he's good enough."
O'Brien was also thinking of the Kentucky Derby following the race.
"I would love to think he could be a Kentucky Derby horse next year," O'Brien said of Hold That Tiger.
Bred in Kentucky by Payson Stud, Vindication has won all four career starts, with a victory in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) previous to Saturday's victory.