The Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby starts here with the $2 million Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the final Breeders’ Cup race of the day. The 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old colts and geldings will field eight and is slated as race 9 with an approximate post time of 7:03 p.m. ET.
#1, Dennis’ Moment, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 8-5
The morning-line favorite, Dennis’ Moment, has come not a long way but a quick way since his debut, where he unseated jockey Robby Albarado at Churchill Downs on June 23. Fast forward just over a month later and he absolutely blew away the field by 19 ¼ lengths in a maiden special weight at Ellis Park on July 27. He responded again with a 1 ¾ victory over today’s entrant Scabbard in the $200,000 G3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 14 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard for the first time. Ortiz returns for his second straight start for trainer Dale Romans. He has looked every bit the part and I don’t think that will change today, although this will be his first trip out West. The pick.
#6, Eight Rings, John Velazquez, 2-1
Trainer Bob Baffert brings Eight Rings into this race coming off an impressive six-length triumph in the $300,000 Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes here on Sept. 27. Prior to that, Eight Rings did not finish the G1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 2 after throwing jockey Drayden Van Dyke after a bump with today’s entrant Storm the Court, who also threw jockey Flavien Prat. The one race over the Santa Anita course proves to be a huge advantage for jockey John Velazquez, who makes his second straight mount. I just don’t think it’s going to be enough. Runner-up.
#3, Shoplifted, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 20-1
Taking a chance for a bounce-back effort for Shoplifted, who finished fifth in the American Pharoah Stakes. Prior to that, he ran second to Basin by 6 ½ lengths in the $350,000 G1 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 2. In his maiden special weight debut, he won by 4 ½ lengths at Saratoga on July 27. The jock that day: Ricardo Santana, Jr. The jock today: Ricardo Santana, Jr. I like the fact he returns and expect a better performance. Contender.
#5, Scabbard, Mike Smith, 8-1
Back-to-back second-place finishes in two graded stakes races makes Scabbard a player here. He finished 3 ¾ lengths back of Green Light Go in the G2 Saratoga Special Stakes on Aug. 10 and 1 ¾ lengths in back of today’s top choice, Dennis’ Moment, in the G3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs on Sept. 14. In his first three starts, he is 1-2-0, all with jockey Corey Lanerie aboard. Today, Mike Smith gets the nod. Based on that alone, Scabbard contends for trainer Eddie Kenneally. In the mix.
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