By Anthony Stabile
$1 million; 1 mile (T); 2YO
Contested for the first time back in 2007 when the Breeders’ Cup expanded to the current two day format, the Juvenile Turf finally offered U.S. runners with an affinity for the lawn a chance to notch a Cup score and gave the Europeans yet another reason to send runners in spades.
Unlike its filly counterpart, Euros have dominated this event, winning five of the seven runnings, including the last three, capped off last year by Outstrip’s powerful stretch move.
On the wagering front, winners have ranged from the chalky Pounced, who won in 2009 at 2-1 to the 12-1 Nownownow who won that inaugural running in a race that served as the Breeders’ Cup debut for one of the finest horses to run in multiple Cup events but never win one, Gio Ponti
This year figures to be no different as far as the Euros go as they’ll come in droves. It appears as if we’ll be spared the appearance of G3 Juvenile Turf Trial winner John F. Kennedy (don’t you hate that they name some of their BEST horses after our most important historical figures?) but Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore certainly won’t be sitting this one out as G2 Beresford runner-up Battle of Marathon and the multiple stakes placed War Envoy are scheduled to make the trip over.
Coolmore will also be represented by the globe-trotting Hootenanny who is trained by Wesley Ward. Hootenanny broke his maiden over the old Polytrack at Keeneland and was second on conventional dirt at Pimlico before winning on the grass at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet and finishing second in the G1 Prix Morny last out in France.
Rival Godolphin Stable will be not only has a Euro but also has perhaps America’s best hope at taking this as they’ll send out G3 Somerville winner Maftool and G3 Pilgrim winner Imperia. Maftool has won twice and placed twice in his four starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Kiaran McLaughlin’s Imperia was second in his debut before breaking his maiden in the Pilgrim last out.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey will send out a pair of stakes winners, International Star and Luck of the Kitten. Trained by Ward, Luck of the Kitten went gate to wire in the Santa Anita prep for this, the Zuma Beach off of a second place finish in a stakes at Kentucky Downs. International Star broke his maiden on turf, then finished second on dirt and turf in the G2 With Anticipation at Saratoga before shipping north to grab the G3 Grey over the Woodbine Polytrack last out for Mike Maker.
In keeping with the multiple runner theme, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence will be represented by both Can’t Happen Here and Startup Nation. Can’t Happen Here broke his maiden in his debut then may have been best when third in the G3 Bourbon at Keeneland when widest of all and only missing by a length. Startup Nation flew home in both his debut and the With Anticipation, a couple of impressive scores, before firing too late when fourth in the Pilgrim at odds of 1-2. Both colts are trained by Chad Brown, who’ll also send out third place Pilgrim finisher Offering Plan.
Lawn Ranger and Danny Boy were 1-2 in the Bourbon for Ken McPeek and Dale Romans, respectively. Lawn Ranger was defeated by Danny Boy in his debut before winning two straight while Danny Boy finished fourth on the dirt in the G3 Iroquois between his debut maiden score and the Bourbon.
The local based Sky Preacher returns to his preferred surface after a failed try on dirt in the G1 Front Runner last out. Sky Preacher won by over seven lengths in his turf debut in the third start of his career then finished a solid second in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf at Del Mar for Doug O’Neill. O’Neill horses will run in assistant Leandro Mora’s name as he serves a suspension.
Jeff Mullins will send out another local, Papacoolpapacool. Papacoolpapacool was third in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf as a maiden before graduating in gate-to-wire fashion over this course last time out. Red Button was second in the Zuma Beach when adding blinkers in his turf debut for Mark Glatt last time out.
We can’t forget Canadian invader Conquest Typhoon, easy winner of the G2 Summer on the lawn two starts back for trainer Mark Casse. Conquest Typhoon was second most recently in the Grey as the 9-5 chalk.
Finally, one more Euro to keep an eye on is G2 Mill Reef winner Toocoolforschool for trainer Karl Burke.