Keeneland - Future Stars Friday

TWO smart-dressed 20-somethings, they could have passed for fraternity brothers as they clutched cold draft beers in plastic cups, stood in the sun on the track apron before the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

They, like the other 39,851 strong that turned out for the Future Stars Friday on a mid-autumn day that felt more like early summer, had already seen two European winners in the first two champion grass stakes and weren’t leaving anything to chance in the day’s finale.

“You’re crazy if you bet against the Euros on the grass,” one said to the other, and to everyone else within earshot.

Victoria Road and Silver Knott looked like standouts going into the mile event and ran that way, knifing through the field of Americans to finish one-two and cap a huge day for the overseas invaders.

Irish-breds won the three grass races – Godolphin’s Mischief Magic in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint, Coolmore’s Meditate in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf and Coolmore’s Victoria Road in the Juvenile Turf.

The home team Americans won the two main track events – which didn’t feature an overseas entrant – with Wonder Wheel in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies and Forte in the $2 million Juvenile. The dominance wasn’t lost on the Americans.

“How about those Europeans?” Steve Laymon, part of Front Row Partners and co-owner of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Goodnight Olive, said from his table in fourth-floor dining room above the finish line. “I’m glad we’re on the dirt tomorrow.”

Buick has a touch of Magic

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Grade 1) 5½f

THE European dominance reached a crescendo Saturday but started rolling Friday from the off of the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Europeans took four of the top five spots in the Juvenile Turf Sprint as Mischief Magic and jockey William Buick closed from 12th and last in the five and a half-furlong event to edge the O’Brien-trained Irish-bred filly Dramatised and Ryan Moore by a length.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the son of Exceed And Excel bounced back from a fourth in the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes in late September at Newmarket.

“I’ve got the champion jockey on my right-hand side and the champion trainer on my left-hand side,” said Hugh Anderson, managing director for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin operation.

“Godolphin is so fortunate to have people of this caliber. …This is a homebred, which makes it a really special win for us. The season has been exceptionally good in the UK, Europe, America, Australia.

“We’re having a wonderful year. These two have played a huge part in it. We’re all very, very proud. And I’m sure back in Dubai this has been watched with enormous satisfaction and enormous pride by our principal.”

Meditate is in full control

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1) 1m

AIDAN O’Brien notched the first of his three wins on the weekend when the Irish-bred No Nay Never filly Meditate stormed down the stretch under Ryan Moore to win the mile Juvenile Fillies Turf by two and a half lengths over Pleasant Passage.

O’Brien was blanked with just six Breeders’ Cup starters last year at Del Mar but came away with three wins, a second and a third in 2022 from eight starters.

“We were hoping coming here we might have a winner,” O’Brien said after Meditate won for the fifth time in seven starts this season. “That’s the truth. We never expect to have a winner.

“We do our best to have them right – as right as we can have – but then accept the result. We know how difficult it is to win Breeders’ Cup races.

Victoria Road strikes for gold

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1) 1m

VICTORIA Road, Moore and O’Brien’s team denied Godolphin, Buick and Appleby a second victory two races later in the Juvenile Turf that proved a tale of two trips.

Victoria Road, the third choice in the betting behind Silver Knott and Californian Packs a Wahlop, saved ground most of the trip before a three-wide run into the lane at the leaders.

Silver Knott and Buick needed to do a bit more, threading their way through traffic around the far turn before taking the lead a furlong from the finish only to be outrun and lose by a nose.

Victoria Road, an Irish-bred son of Saxon Warrior, won his fourth straight after starting his career with four defeats.

“There wasn’t much room, but there was enough of a gap and my horse showed a really good attitude and he quickened and he got through,” Moore said.

“When he done that, he shut down a little bit and just drifted out into the middle of the track slightly. And he left the door open for the runner-up.

“My horse did respond or maybe the other horse peeked on his run slightly. I thought in the lane he had won.”

Forte fights tough

FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) 1m ½f

CAVE Rock came into this year’s World Championships as the most hyped runner not named Flightline.

The winner of his three starts by 16 and a half lengths for embattled trainer Bob Baffert, Cave Rock also went off the second shortest price of the meeting at 2/5 in the field of 11 for the Juvenile.

Forte, winner of Saratoga’s Grade 1 Hopeful and Keeneland’s Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, locked up North America’s two-year-old male championship with a length-and-a-half win over Cave Rock.

Leading American jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. rode the winner for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Repole Stable and St Elias Stable.


“Cave Rock was getting the trip we expected and we were getting the trip we hoped for but you just don’t know if you’re going to run down a horse of that quality,” Pletcher said. “Obviously delighted with everything. He got a beautiful trip. Just kept coming.

“The one thing I think he learned from the Breeders’ Futurity, Irad said he felt like he had a lot more horse than he was allowed to let him run.

“He kind of was laying in on the horse next to him, so he said if we’re fortunate enough to have horse to get to the wire he wanted to stay clear.”

Wheel rolls to second Grade 1

NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1) (Dirt) 1m ½f

FANS of two-year-old racing at Saratoga enjoyed the $2 million Juvenile Fillies as the first six past the finish all competed at the historic upstate New York venue this summer.

D. J. Stable’s Wonder Wheel, second to Leave No Trace in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Spinaway on closing weekend, closed from 11th through the opening half-mile and ran down that same rival to win the mile and 1/16 event by three lengths.

The daughter of Into Mischief added the Juvenile Fillies to her win four weeks prior in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and a victory in the Debutante in July at Churchill Downs.