The last time the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) was run at Santa Anita, in 2003, Action This Day, who had but a maiden win by a nose to his credit, cruised to a daylight victory at 26-1. The upcoming 2008 version seems every bit as wide open, its roster already compromised by defections and synthetic surface doubters.
The most accomplished 2-year-old male in the land to date, Vineyard Haven , winner of the Hopeful and the Champagne (both gr. I), will pass on the Juvenile. Trainer and majority owner Bobby Frankel feels he’s got a Derby horse on his hands, and will not wheel the son of Lido Palace back three weeks after his Champagne score. If the gray races again this season, it will be in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park in December.
The man who owns the CashCall lending operation, J. Paul Reddam, looks to have a major Juvenile threat on his hands after his Square Eddie decimated his field in the Oct. 4 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland just days after arriving from Europe. The son of Smart Strike acclimated to North America rather quickly. His European conditioner, John Best, reportedly did very little with him following Square Eddie’s runner-up finish in a group III event in England in early September, yet Square Eddie broke alertly, tracked the Futurity pace quite professionally, and left his field in arrears as soon as he switched leads in upper stretch, drawing off by 43⁄4 lengths.
Square Eddie will continue his career under the tutelage of California-based Doug O’Neill, who handles many of Reddam’s charges. Reddam took a similar tack with Wilko in 2004, buying him shortly before the Juvenile and then escorting him to the winner’s circle at Lone Star Park.
The California contingent of 2-year-olds has proceeded along without producing an obvious headliner. Azul Leon has tailed off, finishing sixth in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, the local major prep for the Juvenile. Norfolk runners had the advantage of getting in a race over the new Pro-Ride synthetic surface to determine if they are likely to go on in the Breeders’ Cup, yet the results of that prep were far from crystallizing.
Street Hero , a maiden coming into the Norfolk, proved victorious by three-quarters of a length for breeder/owner/trainer Myung Kwon Cho. The son of Street Cry will attract support off the win, yet only two Norfolk victors have come back to take the Juvenile, and none since 1986. But it is always an advantage to be able to run out of one’s home stall without traveling.
Trainer Bob Baffert has a live runner in Midshipman , who took the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) before managing second-place honors in the Norfolk. The Unbridled’s Song colt had to make his move after going very wide turning for home, so his loss there shouldn’t be held against him. Mace and Samantha Siegel’s homebred Believe in Hope rallied nicely along the rail and put in a catchy late run to finish a nose in back of Midshipman in the Norfolk. The son of Thunder Gulch might be a nice value play in the Juvenile.
Several potential East Coast contenders have run their way out of a Juvenile try. Regal Ransom came out to contest the Norfolk, but never picked up his feet and finished eighth, beating one. Majestic Blue offered a similar performance in the Breeders’ Futurity, coming home fourth, beaten more than eight lengths. Hello Broadway, Girolamo, Break Water Edison, and Ventana, all highly regarded, ran up the track in the Champagne, while the third-place finisher in that event, Cribnote, will stay in New York to run in the Nashua (gr. III) and Remsen (gr. II). Munnings , who finished second, but 5 3⁄4 lengths behind Vineyard Haven in the Champagne, will contest the Juvenile. The son of Speightstown was third in the Hopeful, and will give trainer Todd Pletcher and the Susan Magnier/Michael Tabor/Derrick Smith combination a live contender.
2008 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Pre-Entries:
Bushranger (IRE) (*09)
Coronet of a Baron has second preference in the Juvenile Turf
Elusive Bluff has second preference in the Juvenile Turf
Gallant Son has second preference in the Juvenile Turf