Kentucky Derby 2020: BC Juvenile Recap

The very early Kentucky Derby 2020 picture was turned upside down following a top three surprise in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Friday, Nov. 1. Dennis’ Moment stumbled at the start, Eight Rings chased and retreated, and Maxfield scratched. It was anything goes after those events, and Storm the Court lead the longshot parade at the Great Race Place. The next Derby points race is the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30.   

Kentucky Derby 2020 Points Race Recaps

BC JUVENILE Recap (11-1-19) – Winner: Storm the Court ($93.80)


It was bombs away in the Juvenile, but this was probably not as big a surprise as the payoffs suggest. After Breeders’ Futurity (G1) hero Maxfield scratched, we were left with a less than stellar field of eight with two apparent standouts. Dennis’ Moment was the favorite based on a big local workout and endless hype from Dale Romans. His main accomplishment was a grade three victory in the Iroquois, and that first Derby points race is hardly a predictor of long term success. Local grade one winner Eight Rings was the second choice, and he sure looked like a need to lead type for Bob Baffert. Dennis’ drew the rail and figured to save ground tracking the pace, and those plans went out the window after he stumbled at the start. The favorite was virtually eliminated before he got started, and the race should have fallen into the lap of Eight Rings. The latter should have been sent to the lead, but jockey John Velazquez is frequently comfortable pressing outside in these situations, and he allowed Storm the Court and Flavien Prat to set the pace. Eight Rings easily handled Storm the Court in the American Pharoah (G1), but the tables were turned today. Storm the Court fought hard throughout on the lead and failed to let anyone pass. Golden Gate turf route maiden winner Anneau d’Or stalked the pace, came up to the early leader and looked poised to go on by, but he was turned away to miss by a neck. The top two were well clear of show finisher Wrecking Crew. The latter chased throughout and was best of the rest. Scabbard ended up a flat 4th. He was the third most likely winner on paper after his runner-up finish in the Iroquois (G3), but that race is looking worse by the moment. Full Flat, a fading Eight Rings, and Shoplifted were next, and Dennis’ Moment trailed throughout. The final time (1:44.93) was much better than the BC Juvenile Fillies, but this did not feel like a strong race, especially with the non-efforts by the two favorites. You can draw a line through this race for Dennis’ Moment. He had no chance to strut his stuff, but he has not really done much yet. He is 2-for-4 with one grade three win. Eight Rings seems to need everything his own way, and he is just too unreliable. The one horse to watch might be Anneau d’Or. This was just his second lifetime start and first on dirt. Just like Donna Veloce in the Juvenile Fillies, he put in an excellent effort considering his lack of experience.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2019 Contenders (11-10-19)

(1) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Team Valor International & WinStar Farm LLC)

Comments: His debut in the SAR slop at 5.5f on Sept. 2 was strong. He was bumped at the break and chased the pace, cruised up outside in the stretch, and finished with plenty in reserve to win by a very easy nine lengths. They were asking a lot in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) second time out. He was asked to stretch out three furlongs from the outside post in his first start vs. winners and first start around two turns. He raced wide throughout before running to the lead turning for home, and he fought hard for 2nd after Maxfield passed him. All in all a very solid performance. He will spend the next six weeks at WinStar Farm, and will return to Todd Pletcher’s barn after that to prepare for a winter campaign in Florida. His connections are looking for a growth spurt in the off season.

Derby Points (4)

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(2) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow)

Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.66 (5/22) at Belmont Park on Nov. 10.

Comments: The promising NY-bred has the Funny Cide connections in his corner. There is no way to know if he will be that good, but he is certainly off to a fast start after a maiden sprint win and a smart victory in the Champagne Stakes (G1). They decided to skip the BC Juvenile, and he is gearing up for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. He can make a case for the 2yo title with a win under the Twin Spires in a few weeks.

Derby Points (10)

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(3)  HONOR A. P. (Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush)

Trainer (John Shirreffs) – Owner (C R K Stable LLC)

Latest Workout: 4f in 48.60 (7/66) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 4.

Comments: Rallied from 10th to finish 2nd in his 6f bow at DMR Aug. 17. Stretched out to a mile at SA second time out Oct. 13, and easily went all the way in a sharp effort. He might be a good one for John Shirreffs. A race like the Los Al Futurity (G1) on Dec. 7 makes sense.

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(4) THOUSAND WORDS (Pioneerof the Nile – Pomeroys Pistol, by Pomeroy)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Albaugh Family Stable & Spendthrift Farm)

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.20 (16/55) at Santa Anita Nov. 7.

Comments: $1 million purchase came out running at SA in a 6.5f dirt sprint Oct. 26. He was the slight favorite over experienced rival Thunder Code. The latter bobbled at the start from post 2 and cruised up to set the pace. He looked gone in the stretch but Thousand Words stalked outside and wore down the leader to win by a 1/2. Thunder Code was 6+ clear of the rest. This was a professional debut and he just seemed to be getting warmed up at this sprint distance. The Los Alamitos Futurity would be a logical target.

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(5) MAXFIELD (Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini)

Trainer (Brendan P. Walsh) – Owner (Godolphin, LLC)

Comments: I liked his one mile debut at CD Sept. 14. He broke slow from post 2 and rallied from 10th of 11 to prevail by a bit less than a length. He made his stakes debut in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, and he stormed home to a convincing win from off the pace. He was supposed to run in the BC Juvenile (G1), but had a minor leg issue and was forced to scratch. He will probably winter in Florida, and his sophomore campaign has not been mapped out yet. Something they are going to have to work on going forward is the starting gate. He broke slow both times. It has not been an issue yet, but as he faces deeper, more talented runners at longer distances, he cannot afford to make any mistakes.

Derby Points (10)


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(6) ENFORCEABLE (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union)

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John Oxley)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.40 (1/37) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 9.

Comments: We already know he can go at least a mile and an eighth, because he graduated at that distance at SAR Aug. 22. He also has the pedigree. Dam Justwhistledixie has produced stakes winners Kingly, Mohaymen, and New Year’s Day. His aforementioned maiden win was in his fourth start, and he ended up a solid 3rd in his stakes debut in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 5. The Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on Dec. 7 might be his next engagement.   

Derby Points (2)

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(7) INDEPENDENCE HALL (Constitution – Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town)

Trainer (Michael Trombetta) – Owner (Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners & Twin Creek Racing Stables)

Comments: This one really came out of nowhere. It is not easy to win first time out from the rail post, and he did it rather easily at the tricky debut distance of seven furlongs at Parx Sept. 21. He was supposed to run in an allowance race at Laurel second time out, but there was a water main break and the card was scrapped. They decided to ship to Aqueduct for the Nashua (G3) on Nov. 3, and he chased the pace and ran off the screen in a 12+ length tally. There were some promising runners in that 9-horse field, and he emphatically swatted them away. I have no idea how far he wants to run, but he sure looked good in his first two starts at seven panels and a one turn mile. The Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 7 is being considered. 

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(8) DENNIS’ MOMENT (Tiznow – Transplendid, by Elusive Quality)

Trainer (Dale Romans) – Owner (Albaugh Family Racing LLC)

Comments: Clipped heels and dumped Robby Albarado in his June 23 bow at CD, and followed that up with a 19+ length tally in a 7f maiden affair at Ellis Park July 27. He stretched out in his stakes debut in Churchill’s Iroquois (G3) Sept. 14, and he tracked the pace and easily held off Scabbard in a solid effort. Based on his back-to-back wins and strong workouts, he was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) favorite, but he stumbled at the start and never got involved in a last place finish at Santa Anita Nov. 1. He was given a clean bill of health after that, and will get a 45-day break before rejoining the Romans barn at Gulfstream Park. His 2020 Derby trail schedule will be decided at a later date.

Derby Points (10)


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(9) GREEN LIGHT GO (Hard Spun – Light Green, by Pleasantly Perfect)

Trainer (James Jerkens) – Owner (Stronach Stables)

Comments: Started out fast with a 5.5f debut win at BEL July 4, and a solid score over subsequent Iroquois (G3) runner-up Scabbard in the Saratoga Special (G2) at 6.5f Aug. 10. He was the Hopeful Stakes (G1) favorite, but scratched when the track came up wet. I thought he ran okay in the Champagne. He gamely held 2nd that day and will get a six week freshening in Ocala, Florida. He is expected to rejoin the Jimmy Jerkens barn after that, and look for him on the Derby trail at Gulfstream Park next year.

Derby Points (4)

(10) AJAAWEED (Curlin – Assiya, by Daaher)

Trainer (Kiaran McLaughlin) – Owner (Shadwell Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.47 (6/28) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Nov. 7.

Comments: Did not have a great start in his SAR dirt sprint bow Aug. 10, and he ended up 5th of 9 that day. I like the professionalism he showed second time out. He was stuck inside and waiting for room at one mile at BEL Sept. 11, and he swung out in the stretch and pulled clear to win by 4+ lengths under Joel Rosario. The Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland was his stakes debut, and he ended up an okay 4th that day.

Derby Points (1)

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(11) ALPHA SIXTY SIX (Liam’s Map – Giant Sensation, by Giant’s Causeway)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Paul P. Pompa, Jr.)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:03.58 (21/36) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on Nov. 10.

Comments: His Belmont debut at 6.5f was solid. He stalked from the outside post, chased Hemlock in the stretch, and gradually wore that one down to win by a neck. He galloped out with energy and seems to want more ground. He did not have a great start in his second career start in the Champagne, and that really cost him in an off the board finish.

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THE NEXT NINE: (12) Structor, (13) Anneau d’Oro, (14) Storm the Court, (15) Eight Rings, (16) Three Technique, (17) Toledo, (18) Thunder Code, (19) Authentic, (20) Democratic Values