Keeler Johnson's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Top 5: Never Too Early

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 23rd, 2019

The season isn’t over yet, but surely it isn’t too early to be thinking about 2-year-olds and the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, right?

Forgive me if I’m jumping the gun, but the juvenile racing action will be heating up before we know it, and I already have my eyes on a few promising colts who could make some noise during the summer and fall. If you want to get an early start analyzing contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (and, by extension, the 2020 Triple Crown), here are my top five colts to keep an eye on.
  1. Unnamed Colt by Curlin, out of Achieving, by Bernardini

This stoutly bred youngster turned heads when he sold for $3.65 million at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale. A half-brother to group 3 winner Arabian Hope, who placed at the highest level of competition in England, this son of Curlin was acquired on behalf of Coolmore connections and is expected to be conditioned in California by the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. With his blueblood pedigree and high-profile connections, this colt is cut out to be a star.
  1. Unnamed Colt by American Pharoah, out of Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat

From the first crop of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, this bay colt has a ton of stamina on the bottom half of his pedigree. His dam, Spice Island, is a daughter of the 1994 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tabasco Cat, and she won the Long Island Handicap (G2) going 1 1/2 miles on turf. Spice Island has already produced 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Ice Box, so it’s safe to say this son of American Pharoah (purchased on behalf of Coolmore connections for $1.65 million) is bred to handle racing a mile or farther.
  1. Milano

As a son of top stallion Into Mischief, out of the unraced Fusaichi Pegasus mare Dixie Song, Milano’s classy pedigree is geared toward early maturity and success going a mile or slightly beyond, so the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile should be right in his wheelhouse. Sold to Team Casse for $1.3 million at the OBS April, Milano has already recorded two workouts at Keeneland and figures to debut sometime this summer, presumably under the care of trainer Mark Casse.
  1. Hop Kat

You wouldn’t necessarily expect a son of 2011 Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty, out of a mare by turf champion Kitten’s Joy, to win his debut sprinting five furlongs. But after posting a series of sharp workouts, Hop Kat was favored at 1.10-1 to win his debut May 17 at Churchill Downs and lived up to expectations with a gate-to-wire, eight-length victory. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Hop Kat was sold for just $19,000 as a yearling (and for $80,000 as a 2-year-old in training), but those prices could wind up looking like bargains if Hop Kat improves with distance and maturity, as his pedigree suggests he will.
  1. Fore Left

Racing for the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning team of Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O'Neill, Fore Left trained nicely leading up to his May 19 debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, and the result was a gate-to-wire victory under jockey Martin Garcia. As a son of Twirling Candy, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, there’s enough stamina in Fore Left’s pedigree to suggest he can stretch out in distance, and if you think May is too early for a top colt to debut, keep in mind that Nyquist—who won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for Reddam and O’Neill—debuted just two weeks later in the year than Fore Left.