Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Maiden Watch: Drum Roll Please breaks through

October 9th, 2023

Is Drum Roll Please on his way to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and/or Road to the Kentucky Derby? It’s not out of the question after the Brad Cox trainee broke his maiden at Aqueduct last Friday.

A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Hard Spun, Drum Roll Please was beaten in his first two starts, finishing sixth and second. But his runner-up finish was a strong try against future Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Locked.

Drum Roll Please was favored at just over even-money to win a one-mile maiden special weight at Aqueduct and ran to expectations, sticking close to fractions of :22.79 and :45.36 before taking over through six furlongs in 1:10.15. The well-bred Hunt Ball launched a challenge down the homestretch, but Drum Roll Please turned back the bid to win by two lengths in 1:36.46.

Also at Aqueduct, Billal impressed in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Sunday. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense pressed fractions of :23.33 and :46.84 over a good track before wearing down the leader and kicking clear late to score by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:23.27. It was a nice move forward off Billal’s debut at Saratoga, in which he finished third behind runaway winner Fierceness.

While Drum Roll Please and Billal starred at Aqueduct, a couple of promising two-year-old colts took the spotlight during opening week of the Keeneland fall meet. The most impressive was Booth, a debuting Steve Asmussen trainee who trounced a six-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday. The son of champion sprinter Mitole dashed to the lead through quick fractions of :22.45 and :45.08 before extending his advantage down the lane to dominate by 5 1/4 lengths in the sharp time of 1:10.23.

Booth’s winning time was 1.75 seconds faster than the 1:11.98 clocking required by Bergen to win an identical contest on the same afternoon, though Bergen’s performance shouldn’t be underestimated. The son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Liam’s Map raced wide from sixth place and finished up strongly to prevail by three-quarters of a length, a solid first start suggesting Bergen has upside for trainer Brad Cox.

We must also highlight the debut of Catalytic, who impressed in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The Saffie Joseph trainee raced close to an opening quarter-mile in :22.72, took over through half a mile in :45.89, and pulled away down the homestretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths over a strung-out field. The son of Catalina Cruiser stopped the clock in 1:17.51.