10/21/2015 12:28PM

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: 19 pre-entered but none from Pletcher, Baffert

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist, training earlier this month, is "ready for a big race," said trainer Doug O'Neill.

This won’t be your typical Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

For the first time since 2007, the $2 million race will be run without a horse from either the barn of Bob Baffert or Todd Pletcher, who have combined to win the Juvenile five times, including three of the last five runnings.

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There was not a representative from either stable among the 19 2-year-olds pre-entered Monday for this year’s Juvenile, to be run Oct. 31 at Keeneland. Instead, the race will feature horses from first-time Breeders’ Cup trainers Dominick Schettino (Greenpointcrusader), Larry Rivelli (Cocked and Loaded), and Nick Gonzalez (Riker). Those horses have combined to win nine of 11 starts, including six stakes.

“It tells you how strong those guys are that we’re excited that they’re not participating,” Doug O’Neill, the trainer of Juvenile contenders Nyquist and Ralis, said of Baffert and Pletcher. “I hope Team O’Neill gets to that point one day.”

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O’Neill won the Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy in 2005, another year when neither Baffert nor Pletcher was represented in the race. Nyquist is 4 for 4, with Grade 1 victories in the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner at Santa Anita. But his descending Beyer Speed Figures, including a 79 for winning the FrontRunner on Sept. 26, have handicappers starting to look elsewhere for the winner.

“I know there wasn’t anything ‘wow’ about the race, other than Nyquist is still undefeated,” O’Neill said. “He has two more weeks and two more days than he had in between the Futurity and the FrontRunner. I can see the skepticism, but knowing the horse, I think he’s ready for a big race.”

Nyquist was scheduled to work at Santa Anita on Friday and then fly to Kentucky on Sunday and join stablemate Ralis, who shipped to Keeneland shortly after he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 3.

O’Neill said blood work taken on Ralis after he arrived in Lexington indicated he may have been “fighting something” leading up to the Champagne. But the colt worked a bullet five furlongs at Keeneland on Oct. 16, and subsequent blood work was normal.

O’Neill said Ralis was scheduled to work again Friday at Keeneland with jockey Kieren Fallon aboard. Javier Castellano will ride Ralis in the Juvenile.

Greenpointcrusader, the winner of the Champagne, shipped to Keeneland on Oct. 10 and had his first work over the surface Monday, going five furlongs in 1:02.44, with a final quarter in 23.55 seconds, under jockey Joe Bravo.

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“He did it easy,” Schettino said. “We worked him a little bit off the rail, and he did it well within himself. I’m happy with everything so far.”

Trainer Keith Desormeaux won the Juvenile last year with Texas Red. This year, he is running Swipe, three times second to Nyquist in graded stakes, and Exaggerator, the winner of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the runner-up to Brody’s Cause in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.

Brody’s Cause is trained by Dale Romans, who also pre-entered Unbridled Outlaw, a troubled third in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. Cocked and Loaded and Rated R Superstar, one-two in the Iroquois, also are pre-entered in the Juvenile.

The 19 pre-entrants are the most since 20 were pre-entered in 2009. The field is limited to 14 starters.

Six of the 19 pre-entered horses also were pre-entered in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Oct. 30. Ralis and Riker are listed in the Juvenile as first preference and are expected to run in the Juvenile.

Hollywood Don, Isotherm, Siding Spring, and Waterloo Bridge (the only European-based horse to pre-enter) have the Juvenile Turf as their first preference. If those four horses go in the Juvenile Turf, then drawing into the Juvenile field would be Conquest Big E, second to Brody’s Cause in Breeders’ Futurity, and Fellowship, the winner of the $500,000 In Reality division of the Florida Sire Stakes. Tom’s Ready would then need one defection to get into the field.

Entries are due Monday by 10 a.m. Eastern, and post positions will be drawn for the Juvenile at 1 p.m. Up to two also-eligibles can be carded, and they would have to draw into the field by 8 a.m. on Oct. 30 in order to run.