The favorites for Friday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile have something in common besides having won two of their three races. In the races they lost, the horses unseated their jockeys.
Eight Rings dropped Drayden Van Dyke in the Del Mar Futurity and Dennis’ Moment dumped Robby Albarado in a maiden race at Churchill Downs.
“We were in the paddock with the owners’ group and somebody says, ‘We can’t lose the Del Mar Futurity unless the jockey falls off,’” said Bob Baffert, trainer of Eight Rings. “When I heard that, I said, ‘Why did you say that?’ [In] Racing, a thousand things can go wrong. Every year something happens that has never happened before. I was sitting there in disbelief. … The horse could have gotten up and hit the fence. But he actually got up and galloped around the field and went right on by them. So, he thinks he’s undefeated.”
While Eight Rings’ problem was self-created, Dennis’ Moment seemed to be the victim of bad luck.
“Another horse came over on top of him and about dropped him and [Albarado] came off,” Romans said. Dennis’ Moment, like Eight Rings, kept running.
“He ran down those horses,” Romans said. Whether he got there or not, he got awful close … after stumbling and ripping off his shoe and running down those horses. Then he just went to the outrider and pulled himself up. It was amazing.”
Baffert made some adjustments to his colt.
“After that Del Mar incident we put the blinkers on him because he’s still a little green so he’s looking around a lot,” Baffert said. “What I like about him and all my good horses is that they don’t get tired. That’s what separates the really good ones.”
Dennis’ Moment is 8-5 on the morning line and Eight Rings is 2-1. They both have new riders. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride for Romans and John Velazquez for Baffert.
Last race for Bellafina
Bellafina, once considered the top 3-year-old filly, may be making her last racing start in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint on Saturday. She is entered in the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale.
“It’s not guaranteed that this will be her final start,” trainer Simon Callaghan. If she runs very well, that might change. She’s one of the best fillies I’ve ever trained.”
There were high expectations after she won six of seven races culminating with the Santa Anita Oaks. But when she went to Kentucky for the Oaks, she finished a disappointing fifth as the favorite. Her next two races were a third and fourth.
The Sprint is a seven-furlong race. “I think this is her ideal distance,” Callaghan said.
Back-to-back Classic wins?
Trainer John Sadler, who entered last year’s Breeders’ Cup 0-for-41, is hoping to repeat in the Classic after winning last year with Accelerate. His entry is Higher Power, who romped to an easy 5 1/4-length win in the Pacific Classic.
“He’s a big, sound horse and he doesn’t have any issues,” Sadler said. “What’s touting him to me is that we’ve had no blips on the screen. Everything has gone smooth, so we’re happy with him.”
Higher Power followed the Pacific Classic with a third-place finish in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita. He finished behind Mongolian Groom and McKinzie, both of whom are in the Classic.