The feature race this Saturday at Keeneland Race Course is the $500,000, Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. This a Win and You’re In Challenge Series race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile next month at Santa Anita Park.
What does it take to win the Breeders’ Futurity? A good horse, that much is certain. Four of the last five winners have gone on to finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the prestigious Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile, so there’s a good chance you’ll see a serious Breeders’ Cup contender (and a potential division champion) in the Keeneland Winner’s Circle on Saturday.
But how can you identify the Breeders’ Futurity Winner before he’s an established star? These tips and trends based on the last ten editions of the Breeders’ Futurity should point you in the right direction:
Any Running Style Can Win (But Maybe Favor Speed Horses)
Over the last ten years front-runners and deep closers alike prevail in the Breeders’ Futurity. The race has drawn 11 or more starters every year since 2009 and over time large fields can produce just about any kind of result.
Since Keeneland transitioned from a Polytrack racing surface to dirt in 2014, the Breeders’ Futurity has generally favored horses with tactical speed. Four of the last five Winners were racing within three lengths of the pace after the opening half-mile, with the lone exception being BRODY’S CAUSE, who rallied from far behind to Win over a muddy track in 2015.
Assuming the Keeneland main track comes up dry on Saturday, look for horses with tactical speed to perform best in the Breeders’ Futurity. By securing forwardly placed positions, they’re better able to stay out of traffic and receive clean trips.
Saratoga Shippers Hold an Advantage
Some of the best young two-year-olds in the world compete at Saratoga each summer and when they ship down to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Futurity, it’s wise to pay attention. Seven of the last ten Winners of this race prepped at Saratoga, along with 14 of the last 30 Trifecta finishers. More specifically, two of the last three Breeders’ Futurity Winners (FREE DROP BILLY and CLASSIC EMPIRE) exited the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
Favor Stakes-Experienced Runners
While Maiden Winners occasionally step up in class and emerge victorious in this race it’s far more common for experienced Stakes runners to come out on top. Seven of the last ten Breeders’ Futurity Winners contested a Stakes Race in their previous start. Noteworthy or not, six of those seven were defeated in their Stakes effort.
Long-shots Often Prevail
Although three favorites have Won this race in the last decade, the large fields tend to produce upset Winners. Six of the last ten Winners started at 8-1 or higher, including 70-1 shocker KNICKS GO in 2018. Furthermore, 17 of the last 30 Trifecta finishers started at 8-1 or higher. If you like betting long-shots, (as does DRB) both on top and in the Exotic wagers, the Breeders’ Futurity is a great race to play!
Support Dale Romans, Todd Pletcher, and John Velazquez
Trainers Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher have enjoyed ample success in this contest. Romans has saddled three Winners over the last ten years, while Pletcher has saddled two Winners plus two runners-up during the same time frame.
Among jockeys, watch out for Johnny V. He doesn’t ride in the Breeders’ Futurity very often, but he’s nevertheless gone 2-for-2 over the last decade, Winning aboard CARPE DIEM and WE MISS ARTIE.
On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a closer look at the field for this race to see if we can find this years long-shot! So be sure to stop back.