Breeders' Cup Juvenile Redux--Where Are They Now?

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Redux--Where Are They Now?
By Dick Downey

Will the Breeders' Cup Juvenile jinx be broken in 2004? We won't know until May 1--unless none of the Juvenile starters is entered in the Kentucky Derby--but this is as good a time as any to see what the starters from last year's edition of the race are doing now.

We'll start out by saying that not all of them have Kentucky Derby aspirations, although all of them but one are nominated to the Visa Triple Crown Challenge. Here they are, in the order they finished that race back on October 25.

ACTION THIS DAY (first). Shortly after Action This Day won the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), trainer Richard Mandella reportedly said the colt might run in the Hollywood Futurity in December, but it was not to be. He was given some time off and was showing a string of works at Santa Anita as of late December and early January. ACTION THIS DAY was being pointed to the grade II Santa Catalina at Santa Anita on 1-17, but Mandella changed his mind, and the colt was kept to work.

He was a close fourth in the restricted, $75,000 Sham Stakes, run at 1 1/8 mile at Santa Anita on 2-8. MASTER DAVID won by a length. BORREGO, PREACHINATTHEBAR and ACTION THIS DAY were just heads apart. This was not a bad effort, although he was expected to finish in the money at virtually 2-1 odds. He confirmed his role as a closer as he was placed sixth after six furlongs, then came five wide at the top of the stretch and made up a couple of lengths down the lane. Not a bad outing at all. Mandella said he is still considering the grade II San Felipe Stakes on 3-14 before the Santa Anita Derby.

MINISTER ERIC (second by 2 1/4 lengths). Following the Breeders' Cup, trainer Richard Mandella reportedly said this one might run in the Hollywood Futurity in December, but it didn't happen for this colt either. An extended layoff, which hasn't been interrupted yet, ensued. MINISTER ERIC may have a very short road, if at all, to the Kentucky Derby. He had chips excised from his knee and ankle after the Breeders' Cup. He did finally show a workout, handily at three furlongs, at Santa Anita on 1-16, and we do note that was followed up just four days later with four in :48 3/5. On 1-30 he went five in 1:01 2/5 handily, 22 of 43. Then, as if playing catchup--or maybe he's just doing this well--he worked again on 2-4, five in 1:04 1/5, and again on 2-8, a bullet of 56, five in :58 3/5 handily.

CHAPEL ROYAL (third by 7 1/4 lengths). If what we are told is true, he's going to be kept to shorter distances by trainer Todd Pletcher. He's stationed at Palm Meadows Training Center. His first breeze after the Juvenile was on 1-12, followed by works on 1-18 and 1-25. After a week off, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, eighth fastest of 53, on 2-9.

TIGER HUNT (fourth by 7 1/4 lengths). Along with all the others in Team Valor's stable, his training was turned over to Ralph Nicks following the Juvenile. Moved to Nicks' barn at Oaklawn, he was given an extended rest and did not record a workout until 2-4, when he breezed three furlongs. He undoubtedly will be hunting for that $5,000,000 Rebel-Arkansas Derby-Kentucky Derby bonus--dubbed the Oaklawn Centennial Bonus--that the track is offering this year, not to mention the $1,000,000 purse of the Arkansas Derby itself.

On February 14, Oaklawn will close "Early Bird" entries for the $200,000 Rebel Stakes and the Grade II Arkansas Derby, a dual entry.

CONSECRATE (fifth by 8 3/4 lengths). He had an iffy outing in the Juvenile. This Bob Baffert trainee did not fare any better in the seven furlong, $100,000 Grade III Jack Daniel's Hollywood Prevue Stakes at Hollywood Park on 11-15, when he was never a forward factor and was beaten 10 lengths by LION HEART and came four lengths behind stable mate COOPERATION, who is not nominated to the Triple Crown. The race was timed in a quick 1:20.63 after the front-running winner set a pace of :22.28 and :44.71. CONSECRATE was fourth in the five horse field.

He and stable mate COOPERATION were shipped to Louisiana to run in the $1,000,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot Stakes run at 1 1/16 mile at Delta Downs on 12-5. COOPERATION paid the bills with a fourth place finish. CONSECRATE headed to the hills with a seventh place run, 9 1/2 lengths behind winner MR. JESTER.

At 10-1 odds, he ran third in the seven furlong, $150,000, Grade II San Vicente Stakes on 2-7 at Santa Anita. IMPERIALISM and HOSCO finished ahead of him. Baffert's TETON FOREST was fifth.

CAPITANO (sixth by 9 1/2 lengths). Trainer Thomas Ray Bell II gave him a rest after the Juvenile and returned him to the track for a work at Santa Anita on 12-27, then on 1-4 and then a work on turf 1-11. He went back to dirt for a five furlong breeze 1-17, 42 of 71, followed by five handily in :59 4/5, 9 of 30, on 1-23.

We at consider that his next race--a $49,000 allowance about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on 1-31--was a setup for a subsequent dirt effort. None of the top three finishers in that race is a Triple Crown nominee. CAPITANO is. He finished fourth of nine, 2/34 lengths off the winner FOUR SONG LIMIT, who scorched the grass in 1:13.58 after the pace set up in :21.22 and :43.26.

THAT'S AN OUTRAGE (seventh by 16 1/2 lengths). Given a well-deserved or at least a well-needed break after the Juvenile, after which he was one-for-seven, he returned in another Grade I, the Hollywood Futurity on 12-20. Given no respect at the windows in the five horse field, he was sent off at 17-1 but ran a relatively respectable third to the unstoppable LION HEART, albeit 4 1/2 lengths behind him, and a length behind the up-and-coming ST AVERIL. The 1 1/16 mile race went in a solid 1:42.80.

He returned to work at Santa Anita on 1-5 and 1-11. But hard work isn't always enough, and he proved it by running seventh of nine in the Grade II Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita on 1-17. He saved ground most of the trip, but the problem was he also gave up a lot of ground from the get-go. But let's not write him off yet, although the likes of ST AVERIL, who won this race, will probably continue to outrun him on the Kentucky Derby trail, especially in light of the fact that this Michael Puhich charge hasn't shown a published work since the Santa Catalina.

RELAXED GESTURE (IRE) (eighth by 18 lengths). This Dermot Weld colt is 33-1 in the Coral Kentucky Derby Futures book. He hasn't raced since the Juvenile.

RACE FOR GLORY (ninth by 19 lengths). He was given a vacation after the Juvenile and returned to work at Santa Anita on 12-19, the day before the Hollywood Futurity.

Put in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes--restricted to Cal-breds--on Santa Anita's winter-spring opening day, 12-26, he may have been a little overbet at 6-5, but he underperformed beyond all expectation when he ran ninth of ten with no excuse. He was beaten 14 lengths by DON'TSELLMESHORT, who went the seven furlongs in a mild 1:25.09. Translation: he ran about 25 or 30 lengths slower than he did in the Cavonnier, the race that had punched his ticket to the Juvenile.

This colt continued to disappoint, getting away last and finishing seventh in the six furlong, $250,000 NATC Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita 1-24. The fact that he was entered in that race does not endear us to this one as a Kentucky Derby prospect. We never count trainer D. Wayne Lukas for the Big One, but we suppose the trainer counts this colt out. However, we will not assume to know what the trainer knows, and so we'll continue our coverage of this one at On 2-1 he worked four in :48 2/5 handily.


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