Breeders' Cup Juvenile: By The Numbers
The shortest odds ever offered by a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starter. Unfortunately for punters who took those odds for the win in 1988, they went away empty-handed. Outstanding racehorse Easy Goer started at 3-10 after winning four in a row, including two Grade 1 races. In those victories, he beat Is It True on three occasions.
But as was the case in the Kentucky Derby the following year, Easy Goer didn’t really handle the muddy Churchill Downs track, losing the Juvenile by 1 1/4 lengths to Is It True.
The shortest-priced winner of the Juvenile was Chief’s Crown at 7-10 in 1984.
The number of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners to take Horse of the Year honors during the same season. The horse in question was Favorite Trick, who conquered all before him in 1997. He won all seven of his starts prior to the Breeders’ Cup by a combined margin of 22 3/4 lengths and was a 5-4 favorite for the Juvenile. Stalking the lead, he took command at the top of the stretch and strolled away for a 5 1/2-length victory. It was enough to beat Skip Away and Gentlemen for Horse of the Year, the first juvenile to win the title since Secretariat in 1972.
Favorite Trick didn’t stay the Kentucky Derby trip at age three, but did win three graded stakes. He tragically died in a barn fire in 2006 but was a useful sire, especially of Quarter Horses.
The fastest time in Breeders’ Cup history over its standard distance of 1 1/16 miles, set by Midshipman when he won the race in 2008. In the first Breeders’ Cup staged on an all-weather track, Midshipman led the race in the early stages and did enough to hold off favorite Square Eddie. Injury curtailed Midshipman's career after that, but he did finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) the following year.
To date, Street Sense (2006) and Nyquist (2015) are the only winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to go on and win the Kentucky Derby. For years, winning the Juvenile seemed like a curse as far as Derby prospects were concerned, as the first 22 years of the Juvenile went by without the winner taking the Derby.
Street Sense changed the story when he won the 2007 Derby, and it was only another nine years before Nyquist emulated him. All told, 19 other Juvenile winners have contested the Kentucky Derby, with 2017 Juvenile hero Good Magic coming closest to winning by finishing second against Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Derby.
The number of lengths the French colt Arazi had in hand in his stunning 1991 Juvenile victory under the Twin Spires, though as race caller Tom Durkin said, "he could have won by 10 perhaps."
There have been few performances in living memory to match Arazi’s victory. Nobody who has seen the race will forget the way Arazi—after racing at the rear for the first half mile—zoomed past the entire field between there and the three-furlong marker as if his rivals were pinned to the rail, and then continued on to an astonishing victory. Unfortunately, Arazi didn’t kick on as a three-year-old and finished eighth in the 1992 Kentucky Derby.
The number of Kentucky Derby winners who have contested the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The record of relative Derby failure by Juvenile winners is well-known, but less well known is the fact 31 Derby winners since 1984 (the year of the inaugural Breeders' Cup) didn’t even race in the Juvenile.
Other than Street Sense and Nyquist, the two horses to complete the double, only four other Derby winners started in the Juvenile. Spend A Buck (1985 Derby winner) and Alysheba (1987) finished third in the Juvenile, while Sea Hero (1993) finished seventh in his Juvenile outing. The only other Derby winner to contest the Juvenile was a Canadian champion two-year-old, of whom more can be discovered later in this article.
The number of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners not awarded the Eclipse Award for champion two-year-old male. It’s double the number of Juvenile Fillies winners who failed to earn their Eclipse Award equivalent.
Since the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984, every champion two-year-old filly at least contested the Juvenile Fillies. But this hasn't been the case for champion two-year-old males. For a variety of reasons, champions Forty Niner (1987), Maria’s Mon (1995), Declan’s Moon (2004), Shared Belief (2014), and American Pharoah (2015) didn’t contest the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. As for the other non-Breeders' Cup winners to claim championship honors, Easy Goer (1988) and Lookin at Lucky (2009) were second in the Juvenile (behind Is It True and Vale of York, respectively), while Dehere (1993) was below his best when eighth to Brocco.
Twelfth—and last—is not a position that bodes well for a horse’s future prospects when they contest the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It was the position filled by Canada’s best two-year-old in 2008. He’d won four in a row there, including the Grey S. (G3), before being bought by Double Eagle Ranch. Transferred to trainer Richard Mandella, he tailed off in the Juvenile before moving to New Mexico, finishing second and fourth in two runs there. However, he made it to the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and to everyone’s surprise was a clear winner. His name? Mine That Bird.