Breeders’ Cup Friday: Juvenile to Produce Derby Favorite

Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Commandperformance, entered in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and trained by Todd A. Pletcher, exercises during the morning training session for Breeders’ Cup 2021. (Photo credit: Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup).

The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships get underway with Future Stars Friday with five races including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

The Juvenile will not only likely produce the Eclipse Award winner for top two-year-old, the winner will become the early favorite for next spring’s Kentucky Derby.

(This story has been updated after the scratch of Jack Christopher). 

The Juvenile is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 20-8-4-2 points up for grabs to the top four finishers.

The Chad Brown trained Jack Christopher was the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Juvenile and has already picked up 10 Derby points thanks to his victory in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. It was announced on Thursday night he will scratch due to a shin issue.

Bradley Weisbord of BSW Bloodstock, a bloodstock advisor for the connections tweeted, “Gutted for the ownership group led by the Bakke family, Liz Crow, Chad Brown’s entire team and Jose Ortiz. After an undefeated 2yo season, and a perfect month of preparation, we all know how hard it is to become a champion. See you in 2022.”

The colt was the second major contender scratched on Thursday. Earlier in the day Domestic Spending was declared out of the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Turf longshot United will also scratch.

2021 Champagne Stakes Replay

The second choice on the morning line who now likely will be the betting favorite is the Bob Baffert trained Corniche, who drew the 12 post. The colt took the field gate to wire to win the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita in his last outing.

Running second to Jack Christopher in the Champagne was the Todd Pletcher trained Commandperforamnce. The colt is still a maiden after two starts but now owns the top last out speed figure in the field.

“His first two starts were very good, even though he finished second,” Pletcher said. “In his debut, he drew the rail and he got bumped pretty hard leaving there, got a really good education out of it and closed well. We thought it was a winning-type race. We decided to treat it as though he won and if he had won, we would have went to the Champagne. That’s what we ended up doing.”

He reunites with Irad Ortiz Jr. who was aboard for his debut in the mud at Saratoga where the son of Union Rags ran second.

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The Juvenile goes off as the ninth race on today’s 10 race card. Over the two days my top pick is the morning line favorite in just once race, this one. But with the scratch of the favorite that now makes it zero.  In 2017 in the first Breeders’ Cup held at Del Mar the betting favorites won just 2 of the 14 races.

Check out our 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide.

Let’s head out to Del Mar for Friday’s featured race of the day:

Del Mar Race 9 The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile G1 (4:50 PT)

#10 Commandperformance   5-1

#12 Corniche   5-2

#9 Pinehurst   8-1

#3 Oviatt Class   20-1



The Pletcher trainee raced next to last in the six-horse field in the Champagne and raced wide throughout, coming with a mild late run to finish in the runner up spit beaten 2 3/4 lengths behind Jack Christopher. The colt made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in his debut which was in the mud at the Spa going six furlongs. Can a maiden win this race? This colt reminds me a lot of Good Magic, who in 2017 ran second in his debut, second in the Champagne and pulled off the upset in this race paying $25.00. Pletcher has won this race twice, with Uncle Mo in 2010 and Shanghai Bobby in 2012 and they both won the Champagne in the final preps. The colt is bred to go long, by Union Rags out of a stakes placed Tapit mare. He reunites with Irad and is going to get some pace in front of him.


This guy is one of three in here sent out by Baffert. The colt wired the field in the American Pharoah (G1) last out at Santa Anita going a route in his second career start. He broke his maiden in his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs over the main track here. This colt was a $1.5 million purchase, by Quality Road out of the stakes winner Wasted Tears ($941,463) who was best on turf and has dropped four other winners. The 12 post is not ideal, but he has plenty of early speed. He owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and his stablemates both have some early zip. This guy will give us a good idea of how the Baffert runners are going to perform this weekend. He just does not look like he is going to offer much value for the top spot.


This Baffert trainee is undefeated in two starts. He broke his maiden on August 1 over the Del Mar main track going five furlongs. he came back in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) at seven panels and took the field gate to wire t win by 4 1/2 lengths while his Beyer Speed Figure dropped from 86 to 79. The $385,000 purchase has the pedigree to handle more ground. He is by Twirling Candy out of a Giant’s Causeway mare.


WIN: Commandperformance to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 10,12 / 3,9,10,12 and 10 / 3,9,12


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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