Breeders’ Cup Juvenile stands above in Prep Season

February 27th, 2018

The Prep Season of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series concluded recently and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) has been recognized as the strongest of 19 qualifiers, generating a 117.5 BRIS Race Rating.

And with the top three nearing their 2018 debuts, the November 4 Juvenile at Del Mar appears likely to have a major influence upon the 16-race Championship Series now underway.

The 1 1/16-mile Juvenile drew six graded/group winners and the eventual top 2 finishers were not among them.

Good Magic entered as a maiden after recording a good second in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park and the chestnut parlayed a 4 ¼-length Juvenile romp into the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male. The Curlin colt made his first two-turn start in the Breeders’ Cup and fans are excited to see him continue to develop for Chad Brown.

The top-ranked horse on the East Coast, Good Magic will make his highly-anticipated return in the March 3 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

Bolt d’Oro heads a deep West Coast contingent of Kentucky Derby contenders and will be looking to make amends after checking in a troubled third as the 3-5 favorite in the Juvenile. The fast and talented son of Medaglia d’Oro received heavy support following a pair of splendid victories in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita and those races came back ranked as the second and fifth strongest of the Prep Season.

Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro lost all chance when breaking poorly in the Juvenile and slow starts have been a trademark from three of four career starts. That rates as a legitimate concern for a 20-horse Kentucky Derby field and needless to say, all eyes will be focused upon how Bolt d’Oro leaves the starting gate in his sophomore return, the March 10 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita.

Juvenile runner-up Solomini lacks the buzz of Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro but I give him a chance to surpass both rivals this spring.

A powerfully-built son of Curlin, Solomini was still growing and far from polished recording non-threatening seconds in the FrontRunner and Juvenile. We witnessed the beginning of a transformation in the December 9 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), with the previously speedy colt displaying push-button acceleration for Flavien Prat and the chestnut appeared to be just getting warmed up in the latter stages as he easily dispatched well-regarded stablemate McKinzie by a widening three-quarter of a length margin (disqualified for interfering with another rival).

Solomini will be looking to move forward at age 3 for four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who is deciding between the San Felipe or March 17 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park as the launching point.

The top three rate as exciting Kentucky Derby contenders and adding further depth to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile are also-rans Firenze Fire and Free Drop Billy. The former came back this season with a Jerome win and Withers (G3) second at Aqueduct while the latter exits a respectable runner-up in the February 3 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

TOP ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY RACES BY BRISNET.COM RACE RATINGS

Rank:

Race:

Race Rating:

Winner:

Class Rating:

Speed Rating:

1

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

117.51

Good Magic

123.9

105

2

Del Mar Futurity

117.22

Bolt d’Oro

123.0

 94

3

Withers Stakes

116.78

Avery Island

120.4

 94

4

Los Alamitos Futurity

116.71

McKinzie*

120.0

100

5

FrontRunner Stakes

116.65

Bolt d’Oro

122.9

105

*placed 1st via disqualification of Solomini

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