Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Judging Juveniles

This could be our first chance to get a last look at some of the big Breeders' Cup contenders for the juvenile races. I know that's a pretty bizarre reality since almost every entrant in the Futurity and Matron will have one or two lifetime starts. The way modern thoroughbreds are being trained its become harder and harder to get a clear line on the juvenile form. 10 years ago both juvenile colts and fillies averaged at least 1 more start per entrant going into the Breeders' Cup. They average about 3.75 starts and I think those numbers could fall even further.

I'm not personally put off by a limited number of starts. Someone has to win the race so the fact that the entire field is becoming less experienced on average is no slight against one particular horse.

I expect that most, if not all, of the horses who do well in the Futurity and Matron will head straight to the Breeders' Cup so this will be our last chance to form an impression.

Historically the Matron is a much better race than the Futurity in terms of producing eventual BC winners but since both moved to 7f I think they've become poor last prep races.

In the last 12 years there have been four two year old Breeders' Cup winners who came into the event off a sprint race. However all four of those winners (Stevie Wonderboy, Folklore, Joahnnesburg, Tempera) won their BC races around one turn at Belmont. Horses who tried a juvenile race off a sprint when the BC was at a two turn track went 30-0-3-4.

My conclusion is that if the Matron and Futurity runners go straight to the BC off this weekends races they will not be horses I'll want to use in the win slot. I'd much prefer to see them squeeze in a route race before heading west.

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