11/03/2010 5:33PM

All the future stars are here for BC Juvenile


LOUISVILLE, Ky. − Approximately four hours before Zenyatta takes her final steps on a racetrack in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, the sport’s heir apparent star will most likely be crowned in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Each year, the Juvenile carries with it the sport’s future hopes, and the winner is often anointed the leading contender for next spring’s Kentucky Derby, which, like this year’s Juvenile, will be run at Churchill Downs.

Adding to the anticipation is the fact this year’s Juvenile field has attracted all the Grade 1 juvenile stakes winners, including Uncle Mo, who won the Champagne; Boys At Tosconova, who won the Hopeful; Jaycito, who won the Norfolk; J P’s Gusto, who won the Del Mar Futurity; and J.B.’s Thunder, who won the Breeders’ Futurity. For good measure, Biondetti won the Group 1 Gan Criterium in Italy, and Murjan is an undefeated Group 1 winner in Peru.

“I think whoever wins the race, that crowd will be very excited as the horses are galloping out, because this is the toughest baby race I’ve seen in a long time,” said Richard Dutrow Jr., trainer of Boys At Tosconova, a son of Officer. “There are a lot of babies in here that people think a lot of.

“We’re very excited about our baby,” he said. “We like a lot of things about him. Can’t wait to load him up in the gate and see what happens.”

Dutrow has been high on Boys At Tosconova since July 2, when he won a five-furlong maiden race at Belmont Park by 12 lengths. It was Boys At Tosconova’s first start for Dutrow after owners Mace and Samantha Siegel purchased majority interest in him following a second-place finish in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill in his debut.

Immediately after that race, Dutrow picked out the Hopeful on Sept. 6 for the colt’s next start. After sitting third in the early stages, Boys At Tosconova made the lead in mid-stretch under Ramon Dominguez and won by 1 3/4 lengths. But Dutrow said it was the way Boys At Tosconova galloped out that impressed him most.

“He just kept going and going and going,” Dutrow said.

Dutrow opted to skip another prep race and said Boys At Tosconova has come to Louisville without a hiccup in his preparation.

“There has not been one moment that we’ve had to say, ‘What’s going on with this horse?’ ’’ Dutrow said.

Uncle Mo will probably go off the favorite based on his 14 1/4-length maiden win at Saratoga on Travers Day and a 1 3/4-length win in the Champagne, in which he equaled the second-fastest time for the one-mile distance, 1:34.51.

Trainer Todd Pletcher thought so much of Uncle Mo that, three weeks before the Champagne, he worked Uncle Mo behind two stablemates to get dirt in his face. Pletcher said that work was more in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup than the Champagne.

“We’re coming back in four weeks off a huge race in the Champagne going two turns for the first time,” said Pletcher, who is winless with 10 previous Juvenile starters. “Everything he has shown us indicates that none of those things should be an issue. I think if he gives us a performance consistent with his first two, that should give us a chance.”

Pletcher will also send out Hopeful runner-up Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini who should relish the two turns of the Juvenile.

“I think he’s going to have something to say based on the way he’s trained since he’s been here,” said Pletcher, who trains Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty for Mike Repole.

The California duo of Jaycito and J P’s Gusto should not be taken lightly. Jaycito, a son of 1998 Kentucky Derby runner-up and Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop, won the Norfolk despite being a maiden. That was his first try around two turns.

“From day one, you just look at him, and you know he’s a two-turn horse,’’ said Mike Mitchell, who trains Jaycito for Ahmed Zayat. “The path that I took I really wanted to get two one-turn races under his belt first.”

The second of those one-turn races was the Del Mar Futurity, which was won by J P’s Gusto, his fourth consecutive stakes victory. That streak ended in the Norfolk when J.P.’s Gusto was beaten one length by Jaycito.

“Maybe the rider was a little too conservative with him, held him back too long, too hard,” trainer David Hofmans said. “Different circumstances in this case. I think he’ll be closer to the pace, although it seems like there’ll be a little faster pace.”

J.B.’s Thunder, Biondetti, and Murjan have never lost. They also have never raced on dirt, though their breeding suggests they should handle it. J.B.’s Thunder is by Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, and Biondetti is by Preakness winner Bernardini. Murjan is by Officer, but he will get a severe class test in this spot.

Rogue Romance displayed a devastating closing kick winning the Grade 3 Bourbon on turf, but trainer Ken McPeek said he is confident his horse will handle dirt.

Riveting Reason is a maiden, but he finished third in the Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk. He is adding blinkers for this race.