Held seven months apart, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile poses as the prelude to the Kentucky Derby - the opening scene of the epic drama that is the Triple Crown trail. In this edition of the Breeders’ Cup, the Juvenile victor will grace the winner’s circle under the twin spires with hopes of returning in May. However, many of those aspirations do not translate into reality. Uncle Mo triumphed in the Juvenile over Churchill Downs in 2010, but was scratched the Thursday of the Derby. In the 2009 installment of the Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird, who crossed the wire last beaten 8 ¼ lengths in the Juvenile, showed the other eighteen competitors his heels as the highest price in the Derby since Donerail.
This grey son of Giant’s Causeway is coming off an imposing win in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. He has defeated the top two year olds on the southern California racing circuit, which will play a factor in the Juvenile. In the Norfolk, Creative Cause settled in a comfortable second behind Ruler of Dubai’s solid pace. I was overwhelmed by the extraordinarily relaxed running style Creative Cause. Into the turn, he came up to challenge the leader, and demolished his foes into the lane without urging from jockey Joel Rosario.
The colt’s only loss out of his three starts came in the form of a second place in the Del Mar Futurity. Creative Cause sat slightly farther off a pace with splits similar to the Norfolk’s fractions, and was taken wide around the turn. At the top of the stretch, Majestic City insignificantly drifted into Creative Cause from the inside. Creative Cause made a strong bid for the lead, and got up between horses in the closing stages of the race. He battled for the win with Drill to his outside, and the chestnut Majestic City on the rail. Under left-handed urging, Majestic City jostled his two opponents badly, forcing Creative Cause to withdraw from contention.
In 2009, the Bob Baffert and Mike Pegram team was victorious with that year’s champion two-year-old male, Lookin’ at Lucky. This year, they are represented well with Drill, who won this year’s Del Mar Futurity just as Lookin’ at Lucky did two years ago.
By the late Lawyer Ron, and out of a Storm Cat mare, Drill is likely to be third best behind Creative Cause and Union Rags in this year’s installment of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Last time out, he placed to Creative Cause in the Norfolk, beaten 3 ¼ lengths. In this race, affirmed his abilities by finishing 3 ¼ lengths ahead of every other competitor, and was second best that day. These horses contending in the Juvenile are worthy adversaries amongst each other, displaying quality throughout the race.
Drill got the nod in the Del Mar Futurity despite being jostled badly by Majestic City in the final yards of the race. This was an impressive performance when you consider the fact that his regular rider, Martin Garcia, lost the whip at the sixteenth pole.
The bay son of Dixie Union is indubitably the star of this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, crossing the wire in triumph in all three of his starts. His counterparts could only see a distant image of this mighty colt with a commanding presence, for he has won his starts by a combined 14 ¼ lengths. Union Rags thrust himself into the two year old spotlight with his astounding victory over a sloppy track in the Saratoga Special.
He confirmed his talent in the GI Champagne Stakes on a fast track with a 5 ¼ length win. In the Champagne, his regular rider, Javier Castellano, settled him into fifth behind Power World’s fast pace. Castellano asked the colt for run around the half, and the pair gradually worked their way to the lead. Into the stretch, Union Rags got caught behind horses. Castellano searched for an opening on the rail, and, to no avail, he could not find daylight. Taking him back to the outside, Castellano found running room, and sent his juvenile star for the lead. Union Rags blasted away from the field, left in his wake of brilliance.