10/22/2007 11:00PM

Sorting out Juvenile Turf

EmailLAS VEGAS - Of all Breeders' Cup races this year, the one I chose to analyze in my column this week is the inaugural running of the BC Juvenile Turf.

As with all the grass races (Mile, Filly and Mare Turf, and Turf), much will depend on the weather. While this is a tricky race to decipher on firm ground, any significant amount of rain will drastically alter the complexion of the race. As usual, the Europeans would have an edge if the turf is soft or yielding because they have experience on such surfaces, but these same colts could explode to new heights on firm turf as well. Below is a thumbnail analysis of the contenders:

Achill Island: Sadler's Wells colt has run well in all four of his starts, all on soft or good turf. Out of a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Terlingua (dam of Storm Cat), and also to BC Mile winner Royal Academy, he must be respected on any footing.

Cherokee Triangle: All four of his races have been on firm turf, and while Cherokee Run is not particularly known as a turf influence, this is the Blushing Groom sire line. He won by daylight in the Sunday Silence Stakes last time out, but against questionable competition. He was beaten twice by Old Man Buck, who should be in this race and not in the Juvenile.

Domestic Fund: Another Sadler's Wells colt who has raced well on heavy and yielding ground. He is out of a half-sister to Twilight Agenda, and there is ample reason to believe he could be dangerous on good or firm turf.

Gio Ponti: Every son of Storm Cat has a license to be a solid turf influence, and speed influence Tale of the Cat is such an example. Undefeated in two lifetime starts (both on grass), Gio Ponti is out of a half-sister to Salty Gal, the dam of stakes winners Mongoose and Hesanoldsalt.

Nownownow: Freshman sire Whywhywhy won the Futurity Stakes, but his sire line (Mr. Greeley-Gone West) is an exemplary source of grass and this colt has been no surprise on turf, especially with so many grass influences in his pedigree (Exit to Nowhere, Spruce Needles, Riverman). Note he was beaten by the much less experienced Gio Ponti in the Bourbon Stakes.

Preachin Man: By Songandaprayer, Preachin Man has high speed and is bred to be a dirt sprinter. Likely pacesetter has a tough job racing beyond six furlongs and trying grass for the first time.

Prussian: Undefeated in two starts, both on turf, he could be the next grass superstar, but then again, he faces Europeans who could wake up big time over faster footing. From the last crop of Danzig and out of an Alleged mare who was second in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stakes, he should handle soft turf, but has never raced on anything but a firm course.

Strike the Deal: From the very impressive first crop of Van Nistelrooy (Storm Cat), he is out of a classy King Ranch female family that produced 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault, plus Heartland, Equal Change (a strong second to Ruffian in the Coaching Club American Oaks), Make Change, and Andromeda's Hero. Should have no problem racing beyond seven furlongs for the first time.

Texas Fever: All four of his starts have been on Polytrack, but this colt has a deceptive pedigree of turf plus high class. By HT (hidden turf) sire Victory Gallop, he is out of a Forty Niner mare who is a three-quarter sister to Fusaichi Pegasus.

The Leopard: After finishing fifth in the Futurity, he was switched to turf and promptly won the Pilgrim Stakes, setting soft fractions over a field of dubious quality. By Storm Cat, he also has two great grass stallions in his pedigree, Nijinsky II and Round Table. His dam is a full sister to Remsen and Cowdin stakes winner Scan; his fourth dam is co-2-year-old filly champion Regal Gleam, and champion Straight Deal also descends from this branch of the immortal La Troienne, racing's most influential broodmare.

Your Round: After winning his maiden debut on turf at Ellis Park, he was second to Prussian in the Summer Stakes and fourth in the Bourbon. By the highly successful and versatile Distorted Humor, he gets grass from damsire Affirmed and second damsire Dixieland Band. Notably, his fourth dam is multiple stakes winner Princessnesian, who defeated males winning the Hollywood Gold Cup.