10/27/2010 3:39PM

Juvenile attracts seven top-level winners


There are only five Grade 1 races in North America for 2-year-olds leading up to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. This year, those races were all won by different horses. And in something of a rarity, all five were among the 11 horses pre-entered for the Juvenile to be run Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

Uncle Mo (Champagne), Boys At Tosconova (Hopeful), Jaycito (Norfolk), J.P.’s Gusto (Del Mar Futurity), and J.B.’s Thunder (Breeders’ Futurity) head a solid 27th running of the Juvenile, which will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. This marks the first time since 2005 when the winners of those five Grade 1 races made it to the Juvenile – with First Samurai accounting that year for the Hopeful and Champagne. Add in Biondetti (Gran Criterium) and Murjan (Peruvian 2000 Guineas) and seven of this year’s 11 pre-entrants are Grade 1 or Group 1 winners.

Three of the 11 horses pre-entered in the Juvenile were also pre-entered for the Juvenile Turf. The undefeated Biondetti, a son of Bernardini, is more likely to run on the dirt, according to Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin. Madman Diaries, who won the Grade 3 Sapling sprinting on dirt, is more likely to run in the Juvenile Turf, according to trainer and part-owner Wesley Ward. Trainer Ken McPeek wants to evaluate the past performances of the competition for both races before determining in which race Rogue Romance will run.

For Jaycito, J.P’s Gusto, J.B.’s Thunder, Biondetti, and Rogue Romance – if he runs – the Juvenile will mark their first race on dirt. For Uncle Mo and Boys At Tosconova, it will be their first attempt around two turns.

“Overall, I think it’s the kind of field you would expect for this race,” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of both Uncle Mo and Hopeful runner-up Stay Thirsty. “It’s bringing together the most accomplished horses from the East Coast, West Coast, and the Midwest. It might surprise me a little bit that a few of the turf horses are in there now that there is a turf option and it’s not on synthetic, but Churchill has a history too of being kind towards turf horses.”

Murjan, a Kentucky-bred son of Officer who won all three of his starts in Peru, was purchased privately by the Silverton Hill Stable of Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton and has been in quarantine in Miami for the last week. He is expected to ship to trainer Darrin Miller’s Churchill Downs stable on Friday. Miller said Rafael Bejarano would ride.

Riveting Reason, a maiden, rounds out the pre-entrants.