2022 Breeders’ Futurity Race Recap

Forte confirmed his status as one of the best juveniles in the Eastern United States by winning the 1 116-mile Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 8.

The son of Violence came into the race already a Grade 1 winner, having taken out the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, but he started second favorite behind Loggins, an impressive winner on debut at Churchill Downs Sept. 17.

Loggins was in front within half a mile of the start and by the top of the stretch had burned off all bar Forte, who surged from five lengths off the speed to challenge Loggins. It looked like Forte would surge by, but Loggins fought back strongly, and by the line Forte had just a neck to spare.

For his victory, Forte earned 10 points on the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby table, with Loggins earning 4 Derby Road points. They were seven lengths clear of third-place finisher Red Route One, who earned 3 points, with Instant Coffee earning 2 points for finishing a head further back in fourth. Newgate finished fifth, but will not earn the available 1 point as his trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs.

Forte and Loggins in particular look to have the ability to be major players for the remainder of the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby series.

By Alastair Bull

Breeders’ Futurity Race History

Held at Keeneland racecourse, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Churchill Downs, the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) annually ranks as Kentucky’s most prestigious race for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

For obvious reason, the Breeders’ Futurity is a can’t-miss target for the most promising 2-year-olds in the Midwest. As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, the race serves as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). In addition, the Breeders’ Futurity is an official stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and the top five finishers receive Derby qualification points on a 10-4-3-2-1 basis.

The Breeders’ Futurity boasts a long history dating back to 1910, when it was run for the first time at Lexington’s long-defunct Kentucky Association racetrack. Kentucky Derby winners Black Gold (1924), Bubbling Over (1926), and Clyde Van Dusen (1929) all used the Breeders’ Futurity as a steppingstone to success at Churchill Downs, giving the young race a high profile on the Kentucky racing circuit.

Following the closure of the Kentucky Association track, newly-opened Keeneland took over as host over the Breeders’ Futurity in 1938. Fittingly, the first winner of the race at Keeneland—the speedy Johnstown—went on to secure victory in the 1939 Kentucky Derby. Two years later, fan favorite Whirlaway parlayed his own Breeders’ Futurity triumph into a sweep of the 1941 Triple Crown.

For much of its early history, the Breeders’ Futurity was conducted as a sprint ranging in distance from six furlongs to just over seven furlongs. Only in 1981 did Keeneland lengthen the race to its current 1 116-mile configuration, which helped restore its prestige after a series of quiet years. Seemingly as a thank-you, the stoutly-bred 1983 Breeders’ Futurity winner Swale went on to prevail in the 1984 Kentucky Derby.

Between 2006 and 2013 the Breeders’ Futurity was conducted over a synthetic racing surface, weakening its ability to produce contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Nevertheless, 2006 third-place finisher Street Sense provided a bright moment with his victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

Keeneland returned to dirt in 2015, triggering a rebound in the profile of the Breeders’ Futurity. From 2015 through 2018, the race produced 11 Kentucky Derby starters, including runners-up Exaggerator (2016) and Lookin At Lee (2017). When coupled with its status as a Road to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep race, you can argue the Breeders’ Futurity has become more valuable than ever before.

By J. Keeler Johnson