10/03/2012 2:06PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf: Breeders' Futurity on Polytrack may produce top starters


This is a big weekend for the Juvenile Turf with three Win and You’re In races on Sunday – the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on the Arc de Triomphe undercard at Longchamp, which might produce a European starter or two; the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park, and the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. Another upcoming prep for the Juvenile Turf is Monday’s Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita.

But the race this weekend that could have the biggest impact on the Juvenile Turf is one that isn’t even on turf – the Grade 1, $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity on Keeneland’s Polytrack. Balance the Books, who impressed visually getting his maiden win in the With Anticipation Stakes in his last start, and who would have been the favorite in the Pilgrim, is running in the Breeders’ Futurity. So is Java’s War, winner of the Sunday Silence Stakes most recently with a solid 83 Beyer Figure, and who would have been the favorite in the Bourbon.

“We bought him at Keeneland, and before we did, he had a good work over that track,” said Balance the Books’s trainer, Chad Brown. “We might cross-enter him in the Bourbon, but we’re really looking at the Breeders’ Futurity, it being a Grade 1 with a big purse.”

Brown added that even a big effort from Balance the Books Saturday would not tempt him to try him on dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. “We’re not considering running him on dirt at all,” he said. “It’s the Juvenile Turf for him.”

Ken McPeek, trainer of Java’s War, feels turf is the best surface for his colt. But while Java’s War would, as McPeek put it, “absolutely” remain a candidate for the Juvenile Turf even if he does well in the Breeders’ Futurity, a big performance could open up a possible attempt on dirt in the Juvenile.

Joha, Charming Kitten, He’s Had Enough, and Are You Kidding Me are four other Juvenile Turf contenders expected to go the Polytrack route in the Breeders’ Futurity.

Brown and McPeek have able replacements for the Pilgrim and Bourbon, they being Noble Tune and Sonofasamurai, respectively. Both colts come off going-away maiden wins on the turf at Saratoga, the former in his debut, the latter in just his second start.

“Sonofasamurai came up with a fever the day of the With Anticipation, but he’s locked and loaded now,” McPeek said. “He’s not Breeders’ Cup nominated, but if he wins, we would consider supplementing him.”

Brown called Noble Tune “a very promising prospect.

“He had a great trip on the inside in his race and everything opened up for him,” Brown said of Noble Tune. “At the same time, he was handy enough to put himself in the pocket, and he acted like a horse who ran a bunch of times before. And, I didn’t work him too hard for that race. He is going to improve.”

There were two Win and You’re In races for the Juvenile Turf last weekend in Europe, but to the surprise of no one, neither winner is expected to make the trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.

Steeler, winner of Saturday’s Juddmonte Royal Lodge at Newmarket, and Battle of Marengo, winner of Sunday’s Juddmonte Beresford at The Curragh, might both be through for the year. But if either does race again this season, it would be in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Oct. 27.

Artigiano, the runner up to Steeler in the Royal Lodge, is a possibility for the Juvenile Turf, however. Artigiano, who races for Godolphin, has won only one of six starts. But he earned high marks for his game effort Saturday, a performance that was considered his best to date. The Racing Post Trophy was also mentioned as a potential next start for Artigiano.