12/02/2014 4:19PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Breeders' Futurity

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Carpe Diem, with John Velazquez up, rolls to a 6 1/4-length win in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

Grade 1, $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity, 1 1/16 miles, Keeneland, Oct. 4, 2014
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth

Winner: Carpe Diem
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owner: WinStar Farm LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 93

A return to dirt at Keeneland for this meet helped lure a large field of 12 for Kentucky’s final major prep to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, to be run four weeks later Santa Anita.

CARPE DIEM looked like a million bucks, and he should, being as the son of Giant’s Causeway had been purchased for $1.6 million as a 2-year-old in training at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction earlier in the year. He dominated this field in a powerhouse effort that stamped him as one of the leading contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Carpe Diem, three paths wide on the first turn, steadily advanced from fourth to second during the run down the backstretch, then he and pacesetter CONQUEST TSUNAMI began to put daylight between themselves and the other 10 runners. Carpe Diem seized the lead at the six-furlong mark in 1:12.16, quickly spurted clear of Conquest Tsunami, and rolled to a 6 1/4-length victory in 1:43.38 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

His time was the fastest of the four races run at 1 1/16 miles on dirt on the card. Two of the other races were for 2-year-old maidens, the other a second-level allowance race for older fillies and mares. His time was more than a second faster than the allowance race, the second-fastest of the four 1 1/16-mile races.

MR. Z, in an improvement over his prior start at Churchill Downs in the Iroquois, rallied up the rail to finish second and, while no match for the winner, was 5 3/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field.

BOLD CONQUEST, who finished third, ran into a bit of traffic trouble down the backstretch and then went steadily to pick up the show spot, beaten 12 lengths.

TOUGH CUSTOMER, who wound up fourth, was right outside Mr. Z down the backstretch but could not keep up with that rival on the far turn, despite coming under an aggressive ride.

KEEN ICE stumbled at the start, then rallied from last to finish fifth while pretty much passing tired rivals.

Conquest Tsunami set the early pace, tried valiantly to go with Carpe Diem on the turn, but the effort sapped him and he tired badly down the stretch to finish sixth while changing over to his left lead and swishing his tail.

FIRESPIKE raced in midpack down the backstretch and never made an impact while finishing seventh.

SHARM, who finished eighth, had a gorgeous rail trip, advanced to sixth nearing the far turn, but could not keep up.

HASHTAG BOURBON, who finished ninth, took up sharply while in traffic down the backstretch and never got involved thereafter.

W V JETSETTER, four paths wide on the first turn, pulled hard entering the backstretch and advanced to midpack, wound up three paths wide on the final turn, and retreated to finish 10th.

DEKABRIST, who finished 11th, broke sharply, couldn’t keep up going to the first turn, and steadily faded.

IKE WALKER, who finished last of 12, was three paths wide on the first turn, raced in the middle of the track down the backstretch, and faded badly to be well beaten.