Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 2021 Races Picks and Preview

On Friday, November 5 the best juvenile horses in the world will face off at Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in a card that features six Grade 1 races. Below you will find a brief analysis and my picks for each of the races on the card. I also provide a more in-depth breakdown for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile races on the Win, Place, Show podcast. 

Name: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

Post time: 5:50 PM ET

Distance: 5 furlongs

Age: 2-year-olds

Surface: Turf

Overview: Let’s start things off with an exciting turf sprint. Post position is important here as at Del Mar, the first turn really comes up fast in these five-furlong sprints. Interestingly, none of the favorites got a particularly good post position as they’re mostly in the middle of the pack. Averly Jane (5-2 is the class of the American turf sprint juveniles and is the appropriate favorite. Armor, to his inside, has been posting improving speed figures overseas even if he hasn’t been winning. I think the five-furlong distance will help Armor a great deal. I’m not a huge fan of One Timer (4-1) as he’s only run once on turf and didn’t hit the necessary speed figures while Twilight Gleaming (4-1) has only had one graded stakes race, though he beat a nice horse in Delmona. Still, I feel like the value for both is off. If you’re going to go with a horse with Twilight in the name, go with Twilight Jet (15-1) who has been posting some nice speed figures albeit on yielding turf. Ultimately though, I like Go Bears Go (15-1) underneath. He ran a clunker last time out on yielding turf, but he’s got a great post position and will respond nicely to the cutback in distance. 

Win: Averly Jane

Place: Armor

Show: Go Bears Go

Name: Breeders’ Cup NetJets Juvenile Fillies

Post time: 6:30 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Age: 2-year-olds (fillies)

Surface: Dirt

Overview: This is a two-horse race and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply trying to sell you something. Echo Zulu (6-5) has been dominant and has people talking about great fillies of the past like Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Still, the fields she has run against haven’t been dominant and this is a step up in distance. On the other hand, Juju’s Map (5-2) just put on an impressive display at Keeneland last time out at the same distance and has a ton of speed. She can stalk a hot early pace and still have plenty of finish. Hidden Connection (5-2) feels way off based upon the fact the competition she’s run against is nowhere near as good as Juju’s Map and the pace/speed figures bear that out. Therefore, I looked for some value underneath in this race and landed on Tarabi (12-1) as a horse that ran “close” to Echo Zulu in the past and has put up improving speed figures each time out against legitimate fields. That’s all window dressing though as the stretch run between Echo Zulu and Juju’s Map is going to be the first of many “can’t miss” moments during Breeders’ Cup weekend.

Win: Juju’s Map

Place: Echo Zulu

Show: Tarabi

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Name: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Post time: 7:10 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Age: 2-year-olds (fillies)

Surface: Turf

Overview: Unlike the first two races, this is a wide-open field with favorite Pizza Bianca (5-1) still offering nice value. Sentimental favorite California Angel (8-1) got the worst possible post draw in the 14 spot and while everyone will be rooting for her, I have a hard time seeing her hitting the board from there. I’m not sold on a few single-digit odds horses in this field. First, Consumer Spending (8-1) is a nice horse, but has regressing speed figures and has run against less competition than others in the field. Her value at 8-1 isn’t terrible, but I think there are other horses with the same odds that give you a better chance to win. Malavath (8-1) is a very successful European horse, but really loves soft turf, which will not be the case in Del Mar where the grass will be quite firm. Meanwhile, European peer Mise En Scene (6-1) just doesn’t have the upper-end speed figures to compete in the field and hasn’t shown the progression necessary to make me extrapolate a career-best performance. Therefore, I’m drawn to Bubble Rock (8-1) and Koala Princess (6-1). Distance might be an issue for Bubble Rock who has been sprinting at 6-furlongs to this point, but she ran a monster race the last time out and is clearly one of the up-and-coming stars in Brad Cox’s barn. Meanwhile, Koala Princess is also stepping up in distance but has shown a similar progression as Bubble Rock. I like the value they present, and I think they both drew well for the post position. I don’t love the rail for Pizza Bianca but she’s too classy to keep off the board.

Win: Bubble Rock

Place: Koala Princess

Show: Pizza Bianca

Name: Breeders’ Cup TVG Juvenile 

Post time: 7:50 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Age: 2-years-old

Surface: Dirt

Overview: If you want to see speed, tune in for this one. Jack Christopher (9-5) isn’t just the fastest two-year-old in this crop, he’s the faster two-year-old we’ve seen in FOUR YEARS! He’s a monster and might be the horse Chad Brown needs to solidify his name as a dominant dirt surface trainer to go along with his many turf accolades. Jack Christopher drawing the inside rail isn’t an issue as he’s going run and run and run and nobody is going to catch him. On the far outside is Corniche (5-2) who has been dominant but has run slower fractions. I dislike the post draw for Corinche and think the speed of Jack Christopher will be a problem. Commandperformance similarly didn’t get a great post draw and I think too much is made of him simply finishing in the same area code as Jack Christopher last time out. Therefore, I’m looking at two horses underneath that are going to give you some value. Bob Baffert’s other horse, Pinehurst (8-1), is a game horse who digs in and can duel. Not all juveniles know how to do that, but Pinehurst does and that will be critical in this race. His speed figures may look lower than others in the field, but he’s been lightly raced, and I expect a big jump this time out. I also love Oviatt Class (20-1) as a horse that is a closer reminiscent of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in that he comes from WAY off the pace with a furious finish. Jack Christopher is going to set some crazy fractions and I think a bunch of horses are going to meltdown the stretch while Oviatt Class is gobbling them up like Pac Man.  

Win: Jack Christopher

Place: Pinehurst

Show: Oviatt Class

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Name: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

Post time: 8:30 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Age: 2-years-old

Surface: Turf

Overview: The second favorite Dubawi Legend (4-1) ran a big speed figure last time out, but it was on yielding turf after two pedestrian speed performances on firm turf prior to that. That’s a red flag and when combined with the fact he’s not raced the distance and has a poor post draw, I’d move on to other horses. One of the horses I really love in this field is Dakota Gold (8-1) who ran the first time on turf last time out and put up a huge speed figure. The crazy part is that the horse might be better on dirt since his first attempt to race on turf was taken off that surface and run on dirt where he performed beautifully. Albahr (6-1) is a very classy horse that has been winning consistently overseas and has a nice draw on the inside. Modern Games (5-2) is a very good horse, but I have questions. I don’t love the rail, he hasn’t gone a mile, and has limited graded stakes experience. I think he’s good enough to hit the board, but I’m not sold on him as the favorite. If you’re looking for double-digit value underneath, Slipstream (12-1) is a nice horse with good performances against decent competition. It would not be out of the question for him to hit the board.

Win: Dakota Gold

Place: Albahr

Show: Modern Games

Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace, by subscribing to Amalfi Media’s YouTube channel, and following The Win Place Show podcast.

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