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The juveniles will take center stage Saturday at Keeneland in the $400,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1). NBC Sports will telecast the 1 1/16-mile event on the main track, with coverage beginning at 5:30 PM ET.
Since before his debut, Gouverneur Morris has been hyped as one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s best 2-year-olds. His 5 1/2-furlong win at Saratoga turned a lot of heads; he stalked the early pace before blowing his competition away for a 9-length triumph. Immediately after, there was talk that his next start would come in a stakes event. Here, he takes on Tap It to Win, another impressive Saratoga maiden special weight winner. His trainer, Mark Casse, last won this race in 2016 with Classic Empire, who followed that with triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
The winner of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity will receive an automatic position in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Tap It to Win – After a runner-up finish on debut in a Woodbine turf event, Tap It to Win shipped to Saratoga for his next start and beat maiden special weight company by 3 1/2 lengths on the dirt. That was one of the most impressive 2-year-old performances of the Saratoga meet and has his connections excited to take the next step forward.
#2 By Your Side – A solid maiden special weight win on debut at Churchill Downs was impressive enough for his connections to try the Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga next, where he galloped to a 3-length victory. After that, he tried the Hopeful Stakes (G1) over the same course but could do no better than fifth. He looks to rebound here after posting a pair of solid local works.
#3 Life on the Road – Ellis Park had a solid year for 2-year-old runners, producing several horses who could be future stars. Life on the Road hopes to be one of those after winning a 7-furlong maiden special weight event. We’ll see if he can ride that momentum into his first try against stakes company.
#4 King Theo – This colt will ship in from South Florida after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park by 8 1/4 lengths. He lost his 5-furlong debut, but stretching out to 7 furlongs in his last start seemed to help him quite a bit. He gets even more distance here.
#5 Enforceable – It took him four starts to break his maiden, but when he did, it was impressive. After two losses at Churchill Downs, he tried the turf at Saratoga, but it was clear that he liked the dirt better after a fifth-place finish. That’s when trainer Mark Casse entered him in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight on the dirt, where he closed late to win by nearly a length. He is the only entry cutting back in distance here.
#6 Maxfield – He’ll make a quick turnaround after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on September 14. That was an impressive win, though, as he dropped back to last before making a furious rally down the lane, winning by 3/4 of a length while going a mile. Winning Jose Ortiz retains the mount.
#7 American Butterfly – This American Pharoah colt broke his maiden at Saratoga by 2 1/2-lengths two starts back, which earned him a shot in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) next. He finished fourth after contesting a hot pace up front. With his pedigree, stretching out to two turns could help him put his best foot forward.
#8 Ajaaweed – After running fifth on debut at Saratoga, this colt improved in his next start when stretching out to a mile, winning a maiden special weight at Belmont Park by 4 1/4 lengths. The waters get deeper for him here, but this son of Curlin has a pedigree that is well-suited for longer distances. Two-turn races are where he could really shine.
#9 January Won – We’ll see if this colt can run well on a quick turnaround after finishing sixth in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on September 14. He was never a factor in that spot after falling behind early, which could explain his poor effort. On debut, he was an impressive maiden special weight winner at Saratoga.
#10 Gouverneur Morris – When it comes to juvenile maiden special weight winners at Saratoga, Gouverneur Morris was one of the most impressive of the entire meet. He stalked the early pace on the backside before crushing his rivals by 9 lengths. The colt had a lot of hype going into that race, hype that grew exponentially after. We’ll see if his talent can overcome his lack of experience in this spot.
The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity serves as one of 15 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Keeneland, Santa Anita Park, and Belmont Park. Here is the full schedule for this coming weekend:
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events come to a close on Wednesday, October 9, with the running of the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
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