Though Old Man Buck was pre-entered with first preference in the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, after considering multiple factors, his connections decided to run the chestnut Hold That Tiger colt the next day in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) instead.
"There were several reasons," said trainer Ken McPeek. "He needs every step of a mile-and-a-sixteenth, whereas the Juvenile Turf is a flat mile. He has worked exceptionally well on the dirt, and he hasn't acted like a one-dimensional grass horse."
A $13,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, Old Man Buck's only race over a conventional dirt surface came in his first start, and the distance of 4 1/2 furlongs was too short for his liking. His next four starts, three on turf and one on Polytrack, were mainly the result of circumstance.
"The only reason he ran on the turf is there are no 2-year-old, two-turn races anywhere in Kentucky," said McPeek, who trains the colt for Larry Carroll. "They don't write them at Ellis Park, they don't write them at Turfway, and they don't run them at Keeneland. So, you either run on the turf or the Polytrack."
Old Man Buck, bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Farm, comes into the Juvenile off a third-place finish in the Oct. 6 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland.
"We really don't even have the chance to test a horse on the dirt, so it is a big unknown for us," McPeek said. "But at the same time (Old Man Buck) has been breezing at Churchill Downs, and he has outworked several of our older horses."
And of course, money is always a factor.
"He knows what to do, and there are two million reasons (to run in the traditional Juvenile) as opposed to one million reasons," McPeek said.