Breeders’ Cup Under the Microscope: How Formidable Are the Juvenile Favorites?

The Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile always generates plenty of attention because racing fans are constantly searching for a possible Kentucky Derby horse, but the race itself can be a difficult puzzle to decode.
Only four favorites have won the Juvenile out of 1998-2017 — the previous 20 editions of this 1??1/16-mile race — with the typical winning odds at almost 11-1.
There are many elements that play to handicapping Breeders’ Cup World Championships races, and the 2-year-old races pose additional factors like determining quality of rivalry coming from bets filled with maiden winners, runners shipping for your first time, seeing a huge audience for the first time, etc.,. Plus, there’s significantly less information in the previous performances with which to formulate your opinion.
Bearing that in mind, let us mine for a few interesting pieces of advice in the previous 20 editions of this Juvenile that may be useful as you pare down your list of contenders.
To begin with, let’s concentrate on all 20 races to try and determine historic trends that may prove invaluable. Because this year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., I’ll then narrow the range to go in depth on the editions of this Juvenile held under the Twin Spires. Finally, we will have a better look at this year’s entrants to test to determine a few runners that match the profile of a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.
The race will be televised on NBC Sports live at 6:05 p.m. ET from Churchill Downs as part of this»Future Stars Friday» card on Nov. 2. What are a few of the major takeaways in the previous 20 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile?
Uncle Mo dominates in 2010. (Eclipse Sportswire)
By 1998-2017, only four favorites (20 percent) have prevailed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Three of the four — Shanghai Bobby (2012), Uncle Mo (2010), and War Pass (2007) — were unbeaten and capped perfect championship campaigns at the Juvenile.
Eight winners struck at high-income chances (10-1) or higher, most recently Great Magic at 11.50-1 last year, including four at 26.80-1 or greater: Vale of York (30.60-1 at 2009), Wilko (28.3-1 in 2004), Action This Day (26.80-1 in 2003), and Anees (30.3-1 at 1999).
The average odds for the winner over the 20-year stretch was just a shade under 11-1 (10.835-1) with a median of 6.70-1. The chances range from 13-10 for Shanghai Bobby in 2012 to 30.6-1 for Vale of York in 2009.
All but one of those last 20 winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile were bred in Kentucky. Irish-bred Vale of York, who in 2009 won on the artificial main track at Santa Anita, was the lone exception.
Twelve of the previous 20 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners won their final prep race. In reality, all 20 completed in the top three and 18 of 20 won or completed within three phases of the winner within their last pre-Breeders’ Cup start. None dropped by more than five lengths.
Ten of the 12 who obtained their final prep did so by open spans (one length or more).
Seven of the 12 last-out winners restricted unbeaten seasons in the Juvenile.
Eight of the last 20 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners were Grade 1 winners entering the World Championships and 10 were graded stakes winners. Only two horses were not stakes winners or graded stakes-placed: Action This Day for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella and New Year’s Day for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert both won the Juvenile off maiden successes.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners entered the race with a combined 46 wins from 76 begins from 1998-2017 to get a 60.5% strike rate.
Eighteen of the 20 made their last start with six months of rest less and 16 of those 20 came into the race five weeks of rest or less. New Year’s Day won the Juvenile in his third start after winning a maiden special weight race at Del Mar fourteen days prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
Twelve of the 20 Juvenile winners had experience in a race going around two turns. Others completed their final prep in Europe and four came out of the one-turn-mile Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Juvenile historically has been a very fair race for all running fashions since its inception, and also the last 20 years are no exception. Seven winners profiled as pace or press-the-pace type runners, six rebounds as stalkers, four were stalkers/closer, and three profiled as committed closers.
Three horses have generated from start to finish and five rallied from eight spans back or more after a half-mile.
Four winners led after the initial half-mile from the Juvenile from 1998-2017 and 13 of 20 were fifth or better.
The typical winner was sixth/fifth after initially quarter-mile and 3.67 lengths back, improving to 3.64 lengths back after the initial half-mile. The median position was fourth/third at the first two factors of telephone, two spans after the initial quarter-mile and two 1/4 lengths back after a half-mile.
Twelve of the 20 winners headed to stretch and 16 were better or third.
Macho Uno’s victory by a nose 2000 has been the smallest margin of victory while Street Sense’s 10-length romp in 2006 was the most significant margin.
Six variations of this Juvenile were decided by means of a neck or not, while on the opposite side of the coin five editions were won by 4 1/4 lengths or longer.
The average margin of victory has been 2.213 (only under two 1/4 spans ). The median margin of success is just 1 1/4 lengths.
The average Equibase Speed Figure for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is 108.9 with a median of 108.5.
Shanghai Bobby earned an 86 Equibase Speed Figure for winning the 2012 Juvenile, which was the slowest in the 20-year elongate, while War Pass (2007) and Uncle Mo (2010) both gained a 123, the maximum figure.

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