Updated on 09/16/2011 8:01AM

Surprise: Locals look best in Juvenile


With three stakes winners entered in the $100,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile, Ellis Park's biggest race for 2-year-olds isn't lacking quality. But the success of a few hasn't scared away the competition, and a full field of 12 was entered for the seven-furlong contest.

The three stakes winners each won their stakes out of state, and they may take a back seat in the wagering to two colts who have dominated their peers in Kentucky this summer. Echeverria, who easily won a maiden and an allowance, and Private Gold, a 5 1/2-length winner in his second start, will likely garner much of the support.

Echeverria, owned by Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, has been impressive in his two wins at the meet. Showing his resiliency and class, Echeverria overcame a bobble and bump at the start to wire a nonwinners-of-two allowance race by more than seven lengths. He continues to train spectacularly at Churchill Downs.

Private Son has done little to disappoint trainer Pat Byrne and co-owners Bob and Beverly Lewis. A son of Seeking the Gold, he overwhelmed his 11 rivals in a Churchill Downs maiden sprint. His Beyer Speed Figure of 88 is tops in the field, and the stalk-and-pounce strategy he used to win his maiden will make him dangerous.

Blackjack Boy has also earned competitive Beyer Figures. Third to Posse in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup at Churchill in May, Blackjack Boy returned to win the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows by 2 1/2 lengths, earning an 86 Beyer. Blackjack Boy enters Saturday's race under a cloud, as he was fourth as the favorite in the Tyro at Monmouth on July 20.

There is a rags-to-riches story in this year's Ellis Juvenile. K's Patton, who sold for a mere $1,000 last October at Keeneland, more than paid for his purchase price by winning a maiden race at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, then romping by six lengths in the $50,000 Canterbury Juvenile on July 13. K's Patton remains stabled at Canterbury, and will ship in for the race for new trainer Wilson Brown.

Hackendiffy, a two-time stakes winner against Ohio-breds, drew the outside post. He failed to win in his only try against open company.

* The filly counterpart to the Juvenile, the $100,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante at seven furlongs, has attracted a field of seven. Allowance winners Ruby's Reception and Santa Fe Strip, plus recent maiden winners Dovenos and Jodys Deelite, are the main contenders. Ruby's Reception, the probable favorite, placed against colts in the Prairie Gold Juvenile last month.