History's Top 10 Breeders' Cup Juvenile performances

November 3rd, 2022

One of the most important races of the Breeders’ Cup is the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The 1 1/16-mile event is North America’s most prestigious prize for two-year-old colts and geldings, and it’s also a prominent Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier.

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Since its inaugural running in 1984, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has produced many impressive winners and exciting editions. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and rank the Top 10 best performances ever seen in the Juvenile:

10. Nyquist (2015)

Nyquist had every reason to lose the 2015 Juvenile. Breaking from post 12 in a large field, Nyquist was bumped multiple times early in the race and wound up racing wide around both turns. Nevertheless, Nyquist overcame these obstacles to rally and win by half a length, foreshadowing his future success in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).

9. Johannesburg (2001)

Johannesburg had no business claiming first prize in the 2001 Juvenile, considering the three-time Group 1-winning turf star had never run on dirt. But against the odds, Johannesburg handled the surface switch with aplomb and boldly rallied between rivals to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.

8. Unbridled’s Song (1995)

Unbridled’s Song didn’t get the cleanest trip in the 1995 Juvenile, running into traffic around the far turn. But after boldly splitting horses and advancing up the inside, Unbridled’s Song outkicked the pace-tracking Hennessy to win by a neck in 1:41.60, the second-fastest Juvenile ever contested over 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

7. Chief’s Crown (1984)

The inaugural Juvenile was one of the strongest. A midpack rally carried eventual eight-time Grade 1 winner Chief’s Crown to a tenacious victory over future 1985 Preakness S. (G1) hero Tank’s Prospect and 1985 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Spend a Buck.

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6. War Pass (2007)

Dashing to the lead through splits of :22.76, :45.56, and 1:09.65 over a sloppy track, War Pass never gave his pursuers a chance to catch up in the 2007 Juvenile. He led by seven lengths at the eighth pole and ultimately prevailed by 4 3/4 lengths over future Grade 1 winner Pyro, with 2009 champion male sprinter Kodiak Kowboy another 12 lengths behind.

5. Hansen (2011)

Hansen had to work hard to win the 2011 Juvenile, digging deep after carving out the pace to prevail by a head. But the caliber of competition Hansen defeated was stellar; eight of his rivals would go on to compete in the Kentucky Derby, including future Belmont S. (G1) winner Union Rags.

4. Capote (1986)

One of the deepest Juveniles ever contested took place in 1986, when Capote led all the way to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Although no one knew it at the time, Capote’s beaten rivals included future Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Alysheba, eventual Belmont S. hero Bet Twice, and 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Gulch.

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3. Favorite Trick (1997)

Favorite Trick capped off a perfect 8-for-8 juvenile season with an eye-catching victory in the 1997 Juvenile, which marked his fifth consecutive graded stakes win. After tracking quick fractions of :22.65, :45.50, and 1:09.46, Favorite Trick drew off to win by 5 1/2 lengths in 1:41.47, the fastest Juvenile ever contested over 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Eclipse Award voters rewarded Favorite Trick with Horse of the Year honors.

2. Arazi (1991)

Few Juvenile winners have been as eye-catching as Arazi, who unleashed an effortless rally from 13th place to beat eventual three-time Grade 1 winner Bertrando by five lengths. Arazi’s breathtaking run (remarkably, his first start on dirt) is still considered one of the greatest Breeders’ Cup performances from any division.

1. Street Sense (2006)

In 38 years of Breeders’ Cup history, no horse has won the Juvenile by a larger margin than Street Sense. The future Kentucky Derby winner launched a terrific ground-saving rally from 13th place to sweep past rivals and dominate by 10 lengths.

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