12/19/2009 3:44PM



Today's Hollywood Futurity (7:34 pm ET, TVG) is the last of 2009's 26 graded stakes for 2-year-old males and will, for the first time since 2004, decide the champion 2-year-old colt or gelding.


For the last four years -- and 20 of the 25 years since the Breeders' Cup began -- the BC Juvenile winner has been named the champion 2-year-old, but there's not much enthusiasm this year for awarding that title to BCJ winner Vale of York. Besides being widely perceived as a fortunate winner over tough-trip runner-up Lookin at Lucky, he won only two of his five other starts and lost all three of his Group-level stakes efforts.

Lookin at Lucky, the only dual G1 winner in the class, probably would have won the title without racing today. A Futurity victory today would lock up the title, but things could get interesting if Noble's Promise beats him. The Breeders' Futurity winner, third and just half a length behind LAL in the Juvenile, would then also have two Grade 1's. Lookin at Lucky is 4-5 with Noble's Promise 2-1 in an otherwise undistinguished field of seven.

In 2004, it came down to the Futurity to decide the 2-year-old title because of similar doubt surrounding an imported longshot winner of the BC Juvenile -- Wilko, who had been just 2 for 10 in England (and 0 for 4 in Group stakes) before upsetting Afleet Alex at Lone Star. Declan's Moon took the title by winning the Futurity to run his record to 4 for 4, beating Giacomo by a length with Wilko a nose back in third. (Wilko never won again, in three more years of racing, finally retiring in 2007 with a career record of 3 for 29 and $2.4 million in earnings.)

Here's the scoreboard for the 15 Grade 1 and 2 races for the crop this year:

It's been a pretty light year Beyer-wise for these top-level stakes. Only Buddy's Saint's Nashua is among the top 20 Beyers for 2-year-olds this year, and Buddy's Saint did not inspire much classic confidence backing down to an 82 when he stretched out to nine furlongs in the Remsen. The top two-turn juvenile Beyers this year have been Jackson Bend's 100 winning the ungraded Florida Stallion In Reality at Calder Oct. 17 and Rule's 97 winning the Jean Laffitte at Delta Nov. 5.