A fine field of 10 two-year-old prospects will vie in Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland Race Course on Saturday. The “Win and You’re In” contest will present the winner with an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 1st at Santa Anita. In addition to the World Championships ramifications, the race also serves as a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” challenge series contest, with points being rewarded on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four-finishers.
There is no clear standout in the Breeders’ Futurity which features a plethora of well-bred and impressive two-year-olds hailing from powerful barns. So, I will look for value in the field and tab a horse that really caught my eye last time out.
Ajaaweed ran an even fifth on debut in a six-furlong dash at Saratoga in his first offering on August 10th. The bay colt flashed some potential in that initial performance, but it was his second race where he showed me that he could be a future star.
Sent postward at 5-2 odds at Belmont Park on September 11, Ajaaweed ran home a smart 4 ¼-length winner against maiden special weight foes. And it was the way in which he graduated that left an impression on me. The son of Curlin was hard held inside while in traffic along the backstretch, moved into the three-path once clear at the top of the lane, and spurted home between horses to win going away under a confident Joel Rosario.
The colt earned a respectable 89 BRIS Speed figure and 98 BRIS Late Pace number for his work over Big Sandy, and he seems poised for a bigger performance when making his two-turn debut on Saturday. Ajaaweed is bred to run long and he figures to thrive in his initial run going two turns at Keeneland.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the February foal came back to work a half-mile on the Oklahoma following his triumph, and it’s worth of note that Rosario will be in the saddle once again atop the youngster. The colt has the gate presence to stay in touch in the early stages of the Breeders’ Futurity, and I envision him closing as well as any horse in the field.
Ajaaweed winning the lucrative Breeders’ Futurity on Saturday is the Free Pick of the Week.
Photo of KnicksGo by Coady Photography/Keeneland