A field of 11 two-year-old colts and geldings will line up on Saturday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and four are all seeking to keep their records perfect in the 1 1/16-mile affair.
Theory owns just two starts thus far but captured both easily. The Gemologist colt broke his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths on July 30 at Saratoga and then added a 3 1/2-length victory in the Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park to his resume on October 15. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Kentucky-bred bay will be stretching out past six furlongs for the first time in the Juvenile with Javier Castellano aboard.
Gormley also shows just a pair of races to his credit thus far. The John Shirreffs charge opened his career with a 4 1/4-length victory going 6 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar. The Malibu Moon bay then tried the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita Park on October 1 and posted a three-length front-running score under Victor Espinoza, who will be in the saddle Saturday.
Three Rules boasts much more experience and a win at 1 1/16 miles. The dark bay son of Gone Astray has competed exclusively at Gulfstream Park, breaking his maiden and taking the Birdonthewire Stakes by a combined 8 1/2 lengths. Trainer Jose Pinchin then saddled the colt for the Florida Sire Stakes series and Three Rules swept the three-race series by a total of 22 1/2 lengths. He’ll make his graded bow in the Juvenile with regular rider Cornelio Velasquez holding the reins.
Practical Joke has run up a three-for-three line, all in New York. The Chad Brown-conditioned bay earned his initial win by five lengths at Saratoga in early August and stayed at the Spa to gut out a neck decision in the Hopeful Stakes (G1). He then shipped to Belmont Park for the Champagne Stakes (G1) and eked out a nose score going a mile on October 8. Joel Rosario has piloting duties on Saturday.
Classic Empire almost made the undefeated list. The Mark Casse pupil has three wins from four starts, but his only loss wasn’t really a loss. After breaking his maiden and taking the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3), both at Churchill Downs, the Pioneerof the Nile juvenile shipped to Saratoga for the Hopeful Stakes (G1). Unfortunately, he lost his rider at the very start as the 8-5 favorite. He showed up at Keeneland two months later for the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and romped by three lengths under Julien Leparoux, who retains the mount for this one.
Not This Time and Syndergaard also just missed having perfect marks entering the Juvenile. The former dropped his debut at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth while going six furlongs, but proved his love for longer distances when taking a one-mile maiden at Ellis Park next out on August 12. Not This Time then returned to Churchill for the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois Stakes (G3) in mid-September and pulled off an 8 3/4-length victory over a muddy track.
Syndergaard ran into Practical Joke while making his third career start in the Champagne, finishing second by a nose. Prior to that the chestnut broke his maiden by three lengths at Saratoga and took the Funny Cide Stakes by 10 lengths, both in front-running fashion.
Robby Albarado retains the mount on Not This Time while John Velazquez has the call on Syndergaard.
Klimt sandwiched three easy wins between two losses. The bay son of Quality Road ran fourth in his debut then broke his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita. He shipped to Del Mar, where he added the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1) to his line, then was second to Gormley last out in the FrontRunner. Regular rider Rafael Bejarano once again has piloting duties.
Lookin at Lee finished second in the Iroquois by 8 3/4 lengths but rallied to be second by three lengths in the Breeders’ Futurity last out. Star Empire will be stretching out here after running third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) by 7 3/4 lengths and second in the Futurity by 3 1/2 lengths. Term of Art just broke his maiden by a nose going a mile at Santa Anita on October 8.