The Juvenile winner will not only be in the driver’s seat for an Eclipse Award at the conclusion of the season, but he will also likely be the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1) next season.
Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup on eight occasions, and on seven of those the Juvenile victor went on to be named champion two-year-old male. One winner, Street Sense in 2006, went on to take the Run for the Roses the following season.
Below is a look at four of the top Juvenile performances that I have witnessed at Churchill Downs.
ARAZI was arguably the most sensational winner of the Juvenile to date. The Allen Paulson color bearer came into the 1991 race making his first start on U.S. soil and went postward as the 2-1 favorite.
The son of Blushing Groom had won six-of-seven races in Europe in his preparation for the race, including a string of three Group 1 tallies in succession, and he left little doubt at Churchill Downs.
Arazi was near the tail of the field early on but put in an awe-inspiring move to blow past his foes in the stretch beneath Pat Valenzuela. It will be tough to ever top his performance.
MACHO UNO had a lone blemish on his resume leading up to the 2000 Juvenile: a close third in the Hopeful Stakes (G1). The Stronach Stables homebred was a 6-1 shot in a fine 14-horse field and held on gamely after putting in a smart stretch run beneath Jerry Bailey.
The son of the brilliant Holy Bull might not have been the most visually impressive victor of the Juvenile, but he did defeat some all timers in doing so. The gray finished ahead of the likes of Point Given and Street Cry in one of the deepest fields ever assembled for the Juvenile.
The Carl Nafzger-trained STREET SENSE entered the 2006 Juvenile off of a close third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and went to post an especially generous 15-1. The Street Cry colt was next-to-last in the early stages but more than made up for the tardy start with a punishing late run under Calvin Borel. The dark bay rode the rail to lead in early stretch and poured it on late, finishing 10 lengths clear at the finish.
Street Sense took the 2007 Run for the Roses with an eerily similar rail run, becoming the first Juvenile winner to be victorious in the Kentucky Derby. The champion went on to take the Travers (G1) later in the year and retired with a superb 13-6-4-2, $4,383,200 lifetime mark.
It could be argued that Mike Repole’s UNCLE MO was the most dominant two-year-old since the turn of the century. The Todd Pletcher trainee raced on just a trio of occasions in 2010, but he was a superstar every step of the way.
Uncle Mo was heavily backed as the 7-5 favorite for the 2010 Juvenile. The Indian Charlie colt was a 14 1/4-length debut winner at Saratoga and followed that sensational outing with a waltz in the Champagne Stakes (G1) as the prohibitive 1-5 choice.
Pressing the pace from the opening bell at Churchill Downs, Uncle Mo readily took over at the top of the lane and powered home a 4 1/4-length Juvenile winner under John Velazquez. He was more than 10 lengths clear of the third-place finisher in a virtuoso performance, registering a robust 110 BRIS Speed figure.