Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Daily Cup Update: Juvenile, Wednesday, Nov. 3
Biondetti – Godolphin’s unbeaten colt galloped 3m Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs under the direction of trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni.
The Kentucky-bred son of Bernardini has won three times in Europe – twice on grass and once on a synthetic surface – and will try dirt for the first time in the Juvenile.
“Today we did stamina training,” Al Zarooni said. ‘He went around twice, rested and then did one more. He was really looking good. He’s better than he was two days ago. After traveling, his head was down a bit. Today he’s much better and he looks bright. The rider said he’s moving better, he’s more keen.”
Al Zarooni, 34, is based in Dubai in the winter and in England in the summer. This is his second season training for Godolphin. Last year, he helped prepare the Juvenile winner Vale of York with his stamina-building program.
“The way I train horses, I’m always doing slow works and longer distances. I don’t go fast,” he said. “Most trainers do one or one and a half rounds (of the track) and they go at a good pace. I’m not doing that. I’m going slower, longer to save the legs. It’s worked for me. I’ve been doing it a long time.”
Boys At Tosconova – Jay Em Ess Stable and Hot Racing Stable LLC’s Boys At Tosconova arrived at Churchill late Tuesday afternoon, and galloped 1m over Churchill’s main track on Wednesday morning. He did the bulk of his preparatory work at Aqueduct.
“I know what’s going on at Aqueduct,” trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. explained. “I know if our horses are doing everything the right way or if they’re not. If I took them to a different track to breeze them, I’m not as sure as I am here. Plus, this is the best track in the world (Aqueduct) so I need to be here taking advantage of it. I’d be stupid not too.”
While under the care of trainer Robert Hess, the freshman son of Officer debuted with a second-place finish in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill on April 30.
“After his debut, I had gotten a call that he was for sale,” Dutrow said. “I drove to Monmouth and that was it. One look and I knew I had to buy him. We loved him. Listen to Ramon (jockey Dominguez) talk about the horse; he loves him too.”
Boys At Tosconova’s first start for Dutrow came in a 5f maiden special weight sprint at Belmont on July 2, and he left no doubt as to who was best, winning by 12 lengths.
“He’s got plenty of speed and when he ran at Belmont he was close to setting a track record without any real effort,” Dutrow said.
He returned two months later to win the Hopeful at Saratoga as the 1-2 betting favorite.
“The Hopeful was a small field, but we still wanted to teach him something and see how he would do sitting a little off the pace,” Dutrow said. “He did everything Ramon (jockey Dominguez) asked of him and you can see yourself how nice he shut himself off early on. I watched the whole field on the gallop out and the others didn’t make the clubhouse turn, they stopped. Ramon couldn’t pull our horse up. That was a very good sign to me.”
J P's Gusto – The bay ridgling got his first feel for Churchill Downs Wednesday morning when he went trackside at 7:30 for a 1 ½ m gallop. He accomplished it much to the liking of trainer David Hofmans, who – like his horse – came in from Southern California to run in Saturday’s Juvenile at 1 1/16 m.
“He handled it well,” Hofmans said back at his Barn 41 headquarters. “He got over it well and changed his leads at all the right times. I don’t think he’ll have any issues with it Saturday.”
Like many horses coming east from California, the son of Successful Appeal has raced exclusively on synthetic tracks to this point and will be trying his first competition on a dirt track.
Patrick Valenzuela has been aboard for J P’s Gusto’s last three starts – which include a pair of stakes wins – and will once again have the call Saturday. They’ll break from post 4 in the 10-horse lineup.
Hofmans added that he’ll have J P’s Gusto take a tour of both the paddock and starting gate Thursday morning during training hours.
J. B.'s Thunder – The 2yo son of Thunder Gulch jogged at Churchill Downs on Wednesday morning after the break, his serious preparations already completed before a start in the Juvenile.
“We’re in good shape,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said.
Jaycito – The winner of Oak Tree’s Norfolk Stakes 1 1/4m and paid a visit to the paddock as he spent his first full day of training at Churchill Downs after being flown to Louisville from Southern California Tuesday.
“He was sort of mean and unruly early,” trainer Mike Mitchell said Wednesday morning, “but he has grown up quite a bit. He was just like a big, dumb kid early, but he has really impressed me the way he has progressed. He now acts like he’s got a pretty good head on him but he still bites. He got me once yesterday after we got here.”
Mitchell was impressed with the weather, saying it seemed to make the colt extra lively. The trainer says he doesn’t see any distance limitations for the son of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop.
Murjan – With trainer Darrin Miller up, Murjan (pronounced More-hon) galloped 1 3/8 m on Wednesday. He has been galloping a bit farther each day in preparation for the Juvenile.
“He is getting more focused as each day goes on, and more familiar with his surroundings,” said Miller. The Officer colt has only been in Miller’s care for five days, having just been purchased two weeks ago, and imported last week from Peru.
Riveting Reason – The 2yo son of Fusaichi Pegasus, still a maiden but twice stakes-placed, went to the track in his new gear – blinkers – and showed a liking for the equipment change. Maria Ayala, the assistant trainer for owner-trainer Myung Kwon Cho, said she expects the blinkers to help the youngster focus.
He’ll break from post position 5 and she said she expects him to take his usual spot close to the leaders.
Southern California-based Victor Espinoza, who scored a stunning upset with Spain in the 2000 Distaff (now Ladies’ Classic) for a payoff of $113.80, will be aboard the colt for the second time. That win came in the rider’s first year to ride in the Breeders’ Cup championships.
Rogue Romance – Catesby Clay’s Smarty Jones colt stood in the starting gate and then galloped 1 ½ m on Wednesday.
When asked about the decision to run Rogue Romance in the Juvenile over the Juvenile Turf despite the fact that the colt has never raced on the main track, trainer McPeek replied “It came down to his pedigree, the added distance and the added money of the Juvenile.”
The Juvenile is $2 million and at 1 1/16 m, while the Juvenile Turf is $1 million and a flat mile.
Stay Thirsty/Uncle Mo – One of the shortest-priced favorites in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races at 7-5, Champagne winner Uncle Mo went out for a jog around the main track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs along with stablemate Stay Thirsty.
Uncle Mo, the unbeaten Champagne winner, drew post 7 for his first attempt at two turns. Right alongside in post 6 is Hopeful runner-up Stay Thirsty, who is seeking his first stakes victory.
“I love the post position of both horses,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who has had 10 previous starters without a win in the Juvenile. “He’s (Uncle Mo) certainly the best candidate we’ve had for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. I would say he’s as good as any (2yo) we’ve ever had. This is his first chance to stretch out around two turns, and I really like what I’m seeing.”
Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini figures to benefit from the extra distance and is also making his first start at two turns.
“He’s run three good races,” Pletcher said. “He had some trouble at the start in the Hopeful, but he recovered pretty well.”
Garrett Gomez will be aboard Stay Thirsty for the first time.