Graded winners Bitumen, Classic Empire & Gunnevera meet in Breeders’ Futurity

Profile Picture: James Scully

October 5th, 2016

The $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), one of five graded stakes on Saturday’s blockbuster program at Keeneland, features no shortage of contenders with a trio of graded winners highlighting the 12-horse field. The 1 1/16-mile race serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and a qualifier for the Kentucky Derby (G1), awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Gunnevera will seek his third consecutive victory after most recently capturing the Saratoga Special (G2). A late-running son of freshman sire Dialed In, the Antonio Sano-trained colt ships up from his South Florida base and will be re-united with Jesus Rios, who missed only the last start.

Classic Empire was favored in the Hopeful (G1) last out after recording an impressive win in the Bashford Manor (G3), but the Pioneerof the Nile colt dislodged his rider when rearing at the start. Trainer Mark Casse adds blinkers and Classic Empire appears to be training forwardly in preparation. Julien Leparoux, who missed the Hopeful due to injury, retakes the mount.

Sanford (G3) winner Bitumen should be forwardly placed from his rail post in a field lacking an abundance of speed. A son of Mineshaft, the dark bay colt will try to rebound from a fourth in the Hopeful and Corey Lanerie will pick up the mount for Eddie Kenneally.

Other contenders include Ellis Park Juvenile victor Lookin at Lee, who exits a runner-up to Not This Time in the Iroquois (G3) Holiday Bonus, who invades for Graham Motion off a head second in the one-mile Sapling at Monmouth; stakes debuter No Dozing, 2-for-2 so far for Arnaud Delacour; and last-out maiden winners Perro Rojo, Singing Bullet, Tiz Trevor and Wild Shot.

Gunnavera photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese