A year ago, a little known 2-year-old European invader owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stole the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Sent off at 30-1 in a field of 13, Vale of York stalked the pace and got up by a head over the previously undefeated and favored Lookin At Lucky in a thrilling finish. Of the 14 races at the 2009 World Championships, Vale of York’s shocking win may have been the biggest upset of the entire weekend.
It was the second straight victory for Goldolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the BC Juvenile. They also won with favored Midshipman in 2008 at Santa Anita
The site has changed from Santa Anita to Churchill Downs for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup, but Godolphin is hoping lightning will strike a third time in the Juvenile, this time with another colt that will likely sneak into the race at a big price. Though he is undefeated in three starts, Biondetti was pegged as a 12-1 longshot in the Nov. 6 Juvenile, thanks to a number of high-profile contenders such as the New York-based Uncle Mo, Boys At Tosconova, and Stay Thirsty, and California invaders Jaycito and J P's Gusto.
Like Vale of York, Boindetti will enter the Breeders’ Cup off the group I Gran Criterium Stakes at one mile on the turf in Italy. But while Vale of York finished runner-up in that race, Biondetti scored by a half-length for his third victory in as many starts. A son of Bernardini—Lyphard’s Delta, by Lyphard, the bay colt broke his maiden in August at Newmarket on turf and then won an allowance tilt on the Kempton Park synthetic surface in September. The Juvenile will be his first start on dirt.
With his two starts on turf, it was assumed that Biondetti would contest the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) earlier on the Nov. 6 card, but after cross-entering both races Team Godolphin decided that the BC Juvenile on dirt would be the better choice.
Input for that decision came from Biondetti’s trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, a former assistant to bin Suroor who was promoted to a head Godolphin trainer earlier this year. Though bin Suroor was the head trainer of Vale of York, Zarooni helped develop the colt.
“(The decision was) because of Bernardini and the breeding for the dirt, and because he’s a group I winner on turf,” the 34-year-old Zarooni said. “The Juvenile is a grade I and the Juvenile Turf is a grade II. We would rather have a grade I."
Biondetti’s jockey will be Ahmed Ajtebi, who rode Vale of York to last year’s upset. He also has no concerns about the horse running on dirt.
“A good horse will handle any track and he has already won on three different tracks,” said Ajtebi, who has been aboard Biondetti for both of his wins.
Biondetti was bred in Kentucky by Palides Investments N.V., and was purchased for $350,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2009 select yearling sale. He will break from post 1 in the Juvenile.