10/23/2002 11:00PM

Handicappers' analysis of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile


Vindication overcame adversity in Kentucky, winning his first route try by six lengths to remain unbeaten. A son of Seattle Slew, he has been pointed to this race all autumn. He will stay nine furlongs, and he looks poised for a career-best performance. He is the most highly regarded of trainer Bob Baffert's trio, by a wide margin. Listen Indy is the knockout. He's improving each start, his steady-paced style will play well at the distance, and he finished creditably in the Norfolk. His odds will be high and worth a gamble. Toccet is green, but won the Champagne anyway, and wants to run all day, though the outside post is a hindrance. Group 1 Euro-shipper Hold That Tiger is a half to Belmont winner Editor's Note.

- Brad Free

The U.S.-based runners have unimpressive Beyers and modest come-home times, and figure to be vulnerable at underlaid odds. I like the chances of Hold That Tiger, who has won 3 of 4 career starts in Ireland and France. If you are looking for a runner who can kick home powerfully, consider the fact that he was 14th with a furlong to go in the Group 1 Grand Criterium, then flew home to get up in time to win by a half-length. The added distance should not be a problem. Tomahawk was second in two Group 1's since his return from a layoff and should take a big step forward at attractive odds in the third race of his form cycle. Whywhywhy keeps getting better, and will be a prime contender with a patient ride. Sky Mesa must show more than he did in his win at Keeneland to be effective here.

- Steve Klein

Whywhywhy overcame the elements and overtook a fast pace to win third straight in Futurity in driving rainstorm, and before that erased a 13-length deficit to win Sanford, something rarely seen by a 2-year-old third time out. Has flourished with races spaced well apart for trainer who has specialized with juveniles the past two years. Listen Indy was only one length behind game pacesetter Bull Market and more experienced Kafwain in the Norfolk, so best-bred colt for 1 1/8 miles at this early stage of career may turn the tables. Should relish off-going, too. Bull Market was stubborn on rail when hooked in Norfolk, but note Mike Smith opted for pricey $2.1 million colt Vindication, who made an eye-catching wide move inhaling weak Kentucky Cup foes in ordinary time.

- Dave Litfin

Johannesburg came over from Europe for Aidan O'Brien last year without previously having raced beyond six furlongs, and he won the Juvenile. This time, Hold That Tiger comes over for O'Brien, and this time, Hold That Tiger comes in off an about seven-furlong race. It was an impressive one, too, as he passed 13 opponents in the final furlong to win; taken to upset. Sky Mesa is very talented and is 3 for 3. But I didn't care for how hard-ridden he was when he won the Breeders' Futurity last out. Vindication, also 3 for 3, has yet to run fast or beat a quality opponent. He is certainly eligible to improve, but is not attractive at a low price.

- Mike Watchmaker