Johannesburg will be bucking a few trends when he crosses the pond to compete in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Few invaders have teed it up to run in the Juvenile, likely because young horses are less likely to take to the travel. And aside from Arazi's stunning winning move in the 1991 edition, none have made their mark in the contest.
In addition, Johannesburg has yet to compete beyond six furlongs or race on dirt. In his corner, however, is leading trainer Aidan O'Brien and the fact he is perfect in six trips to post.
Johannesburg is by Hennessy, who was certainly precocious on the racetrack. After missing by a head in his first race, Hennessy reeled off his four career victories in a row, including triumphs in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. II), the Sapling Stakes (gr. II), and the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I). The latter, at seven furlongs, was Hennessy's longest winning trip. He finished second, beaten just a neck by Unbridled's Song, in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Johannesburg is the first foal out of Myth, who captured one race in her 16-race career. Myth is inbred 5X5 to Princequillo, and her dosage index is 3.92. Myth has an unnamed weanling filly by Storm Cat. Johannesburg's broodmare sire is Ogygian, who had a brilliant if short career at the races. The son of Damscus scored in seven of 10 tries and earned better than $455,000. Ogygian entered the winner's circle after the one-mile Jerome Handicap (gr. I), the nine-furlong Dwyer Stakes (gr. I), and the seven-furlong Futurity Stakes (gr. I), all at Belmont Park.
There is much to be optimistic about when considering Johannesburg's second dam, Yarn, a daughter of Mr. Prosptector out of the Honest Pleasure mare Narrate. After foaling Myth, Yarn produced Tale of the Cat in 1994, a colt by Storm Cat who took honors in the 1997 King's Bishop (then gr. II) at Saratoga over seven furlongs and hit the board in the 1998 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) and the 1997 and 1998 runnings of the grade I Vosburgh Stakes.
Four years later Yarn produced Minardi, a colt by Boundary who won group I stakes in Ireland and England at 2. Minardi was the highweighted colt at 2 on the English Free Handicap, but didn't win again after those two stakes efforts.
Backers of Johannesburg have some win-early blood to bolster their chances as they seek to upset Officer in the 8.5 furlong Juvenile.