There weren't any audible groans when post positions were drawn for the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), but with a field of 13—one short of the maximum permitted—the run to the first turn could prove critical.
The last horse to win the Juvenile from the far outside post was Wilko, who did so in 2004, albeit in a compact eight-horse field at Santa Anita Park. One of the best efforts from the outside gate since then was produced by Lookin At Lucky , who rallied from far back to miss winning by neck from post 13, also at Santa Anita.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas didn't seem too concerned when Robert Baker and William Mack's Tiznow colt Strong Mandate, winner of the grade I Hopeful Stakes, drew post 14 for this year's Juvenile, but he wasn't necessarily pleased.
"I'd rather forget it," Lukas said. "I'd like to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. But he has been outside in his races and is a very good gate horse, so there are some plusses. Having the outside post, he'll show some speed."
Strong Mandate will break just outside of the Todd Pletcher-trained Havana, who is undefeated in two starts for owners Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith. The speedy Havana, by Dunkirk , won the one-mile Champagne Stakes (gr. I) around one turn at Belmont Park and will make his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile.
Diamond 100 Racing Club, Susan Magnier, and Robert Trussell's Diamond Bachelor has two wins and second in three starts, all at one mile on grass in California. Trainer Patrick Biancone said he'll take post 12, "inside the two favorites."
Diamond Bachelor, by War Front , sports a long time of solid workouts on the dirt at Santa Anita.
"The owners decided (to run in the Juvenile rather than the grade I Juvenile Turf)," Biancone said. "They're Americans. They want to run on dirt."
The wild card in the Juvenile is Fog City Stable's Tap It Rich, who drew nicely in post 6. The Tapit colt overcame a poor start in his debut last time out but won with ease in good time for the one mile at Santa Anita.
Another Hall of Famer, Bob Baffert, indicated he was happy with the post position for Tap It Rich. With a clean break the colt could show much better early foot and drew well inside of several key rivals.