10/05/2017 2:20PM

Wide-open contest in Breeders' Futurity

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Free Drop Billy (inside) is the 2-1 morning-line choice for the Breeders' Futurity off his runner-up finish in an eventful running of the Grade 1 Hopeful.

Most every race has some handicapping elements of uncertainty. Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland just has more than its fair share.

Only one of the 13 entrants has raced the distance of 1 1/16 miles on dirt, and that colt, Ten City, is also the only horse to have previously started at Keeneland.

Then there is the overall inexperience of the competitors, with two horses being maidens and nine others having won just a single race.

Considering those factors, the race makes for an interesting puzzle with implications for the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Breeders’ Futurity is a Win and You’re In prep for the Juvenile and has proven fruitful in years past – four Futurity winners have gone on to take the Juvenile, including Classic Empire last year.

:: Get bonus PPs for Saturday’s card at Keeneland

The public seems likely to settle on Free Drop Billy as the favorite. The 2-1 morning line choice, he narrowly missed in an eventful Hopeful when beaten a head by Sporting Chance, a colt now sidelined for the rest of the year due to injury.

But if Free Drop Billy holds an edge, it is razor thin. Only a head behind him that day was third-place Givemeaminit, who is back in the Breeders’ Futurity. Neither has raced beyond the seven-furlong Hopeful distance.

Perhaps the most proven of the Breeders’ Futurity competitors is Ten City, who won at Keeneland in the spring and subsequently took the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs, making him the field’s lone graded stakes winner. He has regressed in two subsequent outings, finishing third in both the Ellis Park Juvenile and the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, though the Iroquois did provide him with valuable experience at 1 1/16 miles.

In addition to providing a paid berth to the Juvenile to the winner, the Breeders’ Futurity also offers 10 qualifying points for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

At least a couple of horses are expected to be scratched: Captivating Moon, who was also entered in Sunday’s Grade 3 Bourbon on turf, and Entice, who drew the outside post and is cross-entered with a more favorable draw in Saturday’s Champagne at Belmont.

KEY CONTENDERS

Ezmosh, by Tizway
Last 3 Beyers: 86-78-65

◗ Horseplayers can get a barometer on the quality of opposition he defeated in his Sept. 16 maiden victory when Tiz Mischief, whom he bested by two lengths, returns as one of the favorites in the fourth race at Keeneland.

Givemeaminit, by Star Guitar
Beyers: 85-79

◗ Possesses a staying pedigree, being by Louisiana-bred leading money earner Star Guitar and out of a dam that recorded all three of her victories going 1 1/16 miles or longer.

Free Drop Billy, by Union Rags
Last 3 Beyers: 85-76-64

◗ Trainer Dale Romans has won three Breeders’ Futurities, including one for these owners, the Albaugh Family Stables, with Brody’s Cause in 2015.

:: Get bonus PPs for the Belmont Park-Keeneland all-stakes pick four