I wouldn’t call winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile a jinx. But the success rate of the Juvy winner the next spring in the Kentucky Derby has been, quite frankly, abysmal.
Now winning any Breeders’ Cup race is a lifetime achievement. And for those people with a mantle full of trophies, well that is as good as it gets in our sport.
But the Juvy winner has had an especially hard time transferring that into a Derby win. Street Sense in 2007 is the lone Juvy champ out of 31 to win the Kentucky Derby. Maybe that in itself should get his trainer, Carl Nafzger, his own wing in Racing’s Hall of Fame.
In this decade alone, Uncle Mo (2010), Hansen (2011), Shanghai Bobby (2012), New Year’s Day (2103) and Texas Red (2014) have not won that coveted daily double.
Many theories abound as to why, but I won’t go there today.
Instead I will look at the Juvy result, plus some other colts, and try to project who may have the right stuff for Churchill Downs next May 7.
Nyquist, off a superb Breeders’ Cup Juvy win, will also win the Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old. Undefeated in five career starts, he will wear the albatross as the Juvy winner moving forward. His pedigree by Uncle Mo out of a Forestry mare suggests 10 furlongs may be too far for him.
On the other hand, the next three finishers in the Juvy — Swipe, Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator — all have above-average distance pedigrees.
Swipe rallied from dead last for second at 29-1 odds. It was the fourth stakes in a row he had placed to Nyquist. Now if Nyquist has his number, how could I even think Swipe could be a better 3-year-old?
Swipe is by Birdstone, who won the Belmont Stakes and Travers. You can’t get a better distance pedigree than that. All things being equal, as the Derby preps get longer he should improve, while Nyquist may hit a wall.
Brody’s Cause is by Giant’s Causeway. He looks like a colt that only gets warmed up after a mile. His running style is very much like stablemate Keen Ice who, in the Travers, was the only horse to beat American Pharoah this year. Dale Romans trains both Brody’s Cause and Keen Ice.
Finally, Exaggerator is by Curlin, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup. He is a stablemate of Swipe, so expect trainer Keith Desormeaux to keep them apart for as long as he can.
There are four key stakes still to be run this year: the Delta Downs Jackpot, Remsen, Kentucky Jockey Club and Los Alamitos Futurity. Expect some hot names to exit those big races.
In the Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby Future Book, these horses are getting a lot of support: Annual Report (60-1), Greenpointcrusader (60-1), Gun Runner (40-1), Mohaymen (30-1), Mor Spirit (30-1), Sail Ahoy (35-1), Songbird (50-1) and Tale of S’Avall (60-1).
Remember that Derby Futures odds at Wynn, Westgate or William Hill are subject to change.
* SI SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR VOTE — Triple Crown champion American Pharoah is among 12 candidates for 2015 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He is second in the voting with 32 percent behind the Kansas City Royals with 41 percent. Vote for American Pharoah by going to www.si.com.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick