A fine cast of 14, featuring most of the top 2-year-olds in training, will converge on Keeneland Friday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). In addition to the prestige of running well in the race and its lucrative purse, the top-four finishers in the event will be rewarded with points on a 20-8-4-2 basis towards a berth in the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Unbeaten dual Grade 1 victor Jackie’s Warrior leads the charge and looms as an imposing figure in the Juvenile. The bay son of Maclean’s Music has been thoroughly dominant from four races in his lifetime, led by scores in the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1) as of late. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the bargain $95,000 yearling purchase has not been headed in his last trio of outings and I think he will lead throughout while making his Keeneland debut. The bay colt could face some early pressure on Friday, but he has proven to be a push-button type. The Kentucky-bred posted a fine five-furlong drill on the surface in preparation of the Breeders’ Cup, as well. Joel Rosario retains the mount atop the stellar colt.
His main threat will come from the Chad Brown-trained Reinvestment Risk, who chased the favorite in second in both the Champagne and Hopeful this campaign. By young sire Upstart, the $280,000 juvenile buy has run a trio of excellent races in succession, and the March foal will appreciate the added ground with which to work with on Saturday, too. The contender will be moving into a threatening position at the top of the lane beneath Irad Ortiz Jr.
I came away impressed with Rombauer when he finished a clear second in the American Pharoah (G1) while making his dirt debut. Trained by Mike McCarthy, the Twirling Candy colt has improved with each lifetime effort and continues to train forwardly this season as well. I can envision the closing type arriving on the scene late to challenge for a minor award at a healthy number under Javier Castellano.
An Exacta with #7 Jackie’s Warrior over # 3 Reinvestment Risk and #13 Rombauer is the Best Bet of the Week.