10/04/2012 2:51PM

Keeneland: Big field, no clear-cut choice in Breeders' Futurity


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Like sister, like brother. As wide open as the Darley Alcibiades shaped up for the opening-day card Friday at Keeneland, so, too, has the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity come up a monumental head-scratcher for Saturday.

Just like the Alcibiades and its 2-year-old fillies, the Futurity was carded with a field of 14 2-year-old colts, along with two also-eligibles. The Futurity, which also is run at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, is a Win and You’re In race toward the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.

A helpful handicapping tip – assuming one even exists – might be to closely examine a common key race, the Aug. 30 With Anticipation on the Saratoga turf. The first three finishers in that race, along with three others, will reconvene Saturday, with the winner, Balance the Books, likely to be one of the Futurity favorites – if in fact the colt runs.

Trainer Chad Brown said he cross-entered Balance the Books in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes here Sunday “just to take a look. I want to see how both races shape up before I make a decision.”

Balance the Books, assigned post 11 with Julien Leparoux, is pointing to the BC Juvenile Turf, Brown said, and it shouldn’t make much difference if he preps on the Polytrack or grass.

[KEENELAND: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

“When we bought him in April at Keeneland, he breezed very well over that track, so I’m confident he can handle the Poly,” Brown said. “This would be a good shot at a Grade 1 for him, too.”

Other returnees from the With Anticipation include runner-up Joha, who comes well drawn Saturday with the rail slot, and third-finisher Charming Kitten, who will have Javier Castellano aboard from post 9 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Even outside of the Saratoga box, there are quite a few others who could make their presence felt in this competitive affair. Foremost, perhaps, is the Canadian invader Dynamic Sky (post 12), whose 90 Beyer Speed Figure from his last-out victory in a restricted stakes is a high for this field. Trained by Mark Casse, Dynamic Sky has trained and raced throughout his nascent career on the Polytrack surface at his Woodbine base.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

Other viable possibilities include Java’s War (post 4), a recent stakes winner over the Louisiana Downs turf for Ken McPeek; Tizracer (post 5), a romping maiden winner for Pletcher on the Belmont main track; Pataky Kid (post 6), winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity four weeks ago; and He’s Had Enough (post 13), shipping in from Southern California for the I’ll Have Another team of Paul Reddam, Doug O’Neill, and Mario Gutierrez.

This will be the 99th running of the Breeders’ Futurity, which was first run in 1910 at the old Kentucky Association track. It directly precedes the Shadwell Turf Mile as the eighth of 10 races Saturday. The 2011 winner was Dullahan, who returned in the spring to capture the Blue Grass Stakes.

All 1 1/16-mile Polytrack races begin and end at what otherwise is the sixteenth pole.

* The Breeders' Futurity offers qualifying points for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has moved to a points system to determine the field for the Derby, scrapping the previous system of graded stakes earnings. The Breeders' Futurity's first four finishers will get 10-4-2-1 points, respectively.