11/02/2010 4:16PM

Biondetti gives Sheikh Mohammed big shot at third straight Juvenile

Barbara D. Livingston
The unbeaten Biondetti drew the rail for the BC Juvenile.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum won the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Midshipman under his Darley Stable banner with trainer Bob Baffert. Last year, Sheikh Mohammed won the Juvenile again with 30-1 shot Vale of York, who raced for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable and trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Saturday, Sheikh Mohammed will seek a third consecutive Juvenile victory when his Godolphin operation sends out the undefeated Biondetti against five North American Grade 1 winners in the $2 million Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Biondetti is trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, a former assistant to Suroor who was promoted to a Godolphin head trainer in March.

Biondetti drew the rail in the 10-horse field and will be ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi, who rode Vale of York to last year’s shocking victory over 2-1 favorite Lookin At Lucky. Biondetti was installed as a 12-1 shot in a field where Champagne winner Uncle Mo was made the 7-5 morning-line favorite. Uncle Mo will break from post 7. The Juvenile is run at 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

Boys At Tosconova, the Hopeful winner, drew post 2 and was made the 5-2 second choice. Stay Thirsty (post 8) and Jaycito (post 10) were installed as co-third choices by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia.

Biondetti is 3 for 3 with two victories on turf and one on synthetic. As a son of 2006 Preakness and Travers winner Bernardini – owned by Darley – Biondetti has the pedigree to handle the dirt though two of his siblings – Delta Princess and Indy Five Hundred – were North American graded stakes winners on turf.

Biondetti was pre-entered for both the Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf. Though the Juvenile had been the first preference, Biondetti trained on both turf and dirt Tuesday morning – just an hour before entries were due – before a final determination was made on which race he would run.

Ajtebi galloped Biondetti on both surfaces and felt Biondetti handled both fine, though he was a little concerned about the firm Churchill Downs turf.

“The dirt for him is fine,” Ajtebi said. “He was stretching out, he switched leads, he’s a happy horse. I think it’ll suit him well.”

Ajtebi has ridden Biondetti to both of his victories on the turf and said the horse was much better on soft ground in winning the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Italy than he was winning a maiden race over firm ground in Newmarket.

Zarooni, 34, has only been a head trainer for Godolphin since March. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant to Suroor. Zarooni is based in Newmarket with approximately 100 horses. Last year, he helped develop Vale of York, who won 3 of 5 starts.

“Vale of York is more of a fighter, he was stronger in his head than [Biondetti], but I think this one is a clever horse, but we don’t know still how good he is,” Zarooni said. “After the race we’ll know.

“We raced him twice in England and once in Italy and he never had a challenge at the finish line.”