09/25/2013 2:59PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Final preps are key for Baffert and Pletcher

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Barbara D. Livingston
Havana is trainer Todd Pletcher's only prospect for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He is scheduled to run in the Oct. 5 Champagne Stakes.

Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher are perennially the most successful trainers with 2-year-olds, and rarely does talk about the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile not include either or both. The two have combined to win four runnings of the Juvenile, three of the last five.

The prospects of either trainers’ participation in this year’s $2  million Juvenile, to be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, will hinge on the key final preps to be run the next two weekends.

In Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita, Baffert will be represented by Can the Man and Roundupthelute. Baffert’s third Juvenile prospect, the good-looking maiden winner New Year’s Day, was forced to miss the race due to a temperature. Baffert hopes to be able to train him up to the Juvenile.

“We’ll have to get lucky to get in,” Baffert said.

On Oct. 5, in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park, Pletcher will be represented by Havana, whose lone win came going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga in August.

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: See DRF’s top contenders]

Can the Man and Roundupthelute were two of 11 2-year-olds – five of whom are maidens – entered Wednesday for Saturday’s FrontRunner, which awards a fees-paid entry into the Juvenile as part of the Win and You’re In program. The field is topped by Tamarando, the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity winner, who is not Breeders’ Cup nominated.

Can the Man, a son of Into Mischief, won his debut at Del Mar on Aug. 17 before running third in the Del Mar Futurity, a race in which he ducked in toward the gap, pressed the pace, and was beaten just one length. His speed will be tested around two turns.

“He never gives up, he’s a fast horse,” Baffert said. “We’ll know more about him this week. At least there are no gaps for him to duck into.”

Roundupthelute finished seventh in his debut at Del Mar on Aug. 28, but came back two weeks later to win the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at the Barretts at Fairplex meet. Though a seven-furlong race, it was run around two turns.

“I think he’s a very good horse, he showed he wants to run long,” Baffert said. “We know he can go two turns, we’re not worried about that.”

Garrett Gomez, scheduled to ride New Year’s Day, will ride Roundupthelute in the FrontRunner, at 1 1/16 miles.

Dance With Fate, second with trouble in the Del Mar Futurity, and debut winner Schoolofhardrocks, are among the more interesting prospects in the FrontRunner.

Pletcher has won two of the last three Juveniles. His lone prospect, at this point, is Havana, who earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest number earned by a 2-year-old male this year, in his debut win.

In addition to stretching out to a mile, Havana will be taking on a quality field that includes Hopeful winner Strong Mandate, Hopeful runner-up Casiguapo, and the sharp maiden winner Honor Code.

The Breeders’ Futurity, run at Keeneland on Oct. 5, also is a Win and You’re In race for the Juvenile. However, with that race being run over a synthetic surface, it often draws horses pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Smart Cover, runner-up to Juvenile-bound Cleburne in the Iroquois at Churchill Downs, is expected to run in the Futurity.