Preview – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

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Beckford
Curragh Sat 13 May 2017 Picture: Beckford and Declan McDonogh (Gordon Elliott - His First 2YO Winner) winning from Red Persian (Ronan Whelan) in "The Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden"

Today we look forward to another of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup clashes, with this one being for 2-year-old colts. The Juvenile Turf is firmly in the crosshairs of trainers from both Ireland and the UK. Two are names you will readily associate with elite flat racing, while the other may come as a surprise!…

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Mendelssohn

Age: 2 (Foaled May 17th, 2015)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Scat Daddy (USA) – Leslie’s Lady (USA) (Tricky Creek (USA))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

The Scat Daddy-sired colt hardly impressed, on his first day at school, dwelling at the start and offering little as the race progressed. He finished 8th on that Curragh debut, but returned to the same venue in August and won by a length from Andesh – despite drifting alarmingly, to the left.

A step-up to G2 company (Champagne Stakes, Doncaster) certainly looked ambitious and even with Ryan Moore on-board, Aidan O’Brien’s inmate was found badly wanting (tailed-in last of 7 and by a huge margin, although Moore was standing-up with a full furlong left to travel).

Undeterred, O’Brien sent Mendelssohn to Headquarters for the Dewhurst and optimists were able to back him at 50/1 to win this key G1 encounter. Moore opted to ride stablemate U S Navy Flag, a decision that proved to be a smart one as the War Front-sired colt won comfortably. Odds-on favourite, Expert Eye, was a huge disappointment, but Mendelssohn claiming the runners-up spot (and looking a completely different beast, from what we saw at Newmarket) was perhaps an even bigger shock.

The Dewhurst form doesn’t always work out well (remember 2015 and the rogues gallery that renewal produced?), but it will always be respected until we know any better and Mendelssohn could even start this open race as the favourite.

Masar

Age: 2 (Foaled April 16th, 2015)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: New Approach (IRE) – Khawlah (IRE) (Cape Cross (IRE))

Trainer: C Appleby

Masar also had a difficult debut, struggling to find room at Goodwood, but he responded well to William Buick’s urges and beat Invincible Army by a short-head. In the Chesham Stakes, Masar found September’s turn of foot a little too hot to handle though he stayed-on well for 3rd place and finished the race looking stronger than the runner-up (Mark Johnston’s Nyaleti).

He went-off as the clear favourite for the Solario Stakes and fully-justified support with a 2-length defeat of Romanised, who always looked well-held by the New Approach-sired colt.

Charlie Appleby then sent Masar to Chantilly, for the G1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardère. As the runners headed towards the 2f pole, Olmedo cruised to the front while James Doyle was already hard at work on-board Masar. Both colts would be overtaken by Aidan O’Brien’s Happily, but Masar showed plenty of grit and finished just a length and a half behind the winner (in 3rd place).

He has shown both talent and maturity, in all 4 of his outings and can be expected to go very-close, at Del Mar.

Beckford

Age: 2 (Foaled February 22nd, 2015)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Bated Breath – Whirly Dancer (Danehill Dancer (IRE))

Trainer: G Elliott

It’s hard to decide which would be the more-unlikely story – the relatively unheralded Bated Breath siring a G1 winner (none of his other progeny have yet to pick-up a Group or Listed victory), or National Hunt trainer Gordon Elliott training a Breeders’ Cup champion!

Beckford (winner of the Railway Stakes, back in July) demands respect, however, having finished runner-up in both the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (each a G1 encounter). He was not at his best, when 5th in the Middle Park Stakes, but Elliott remains fairly bullish ahead of the big race on Friday.

“Joel Rosario rides and the horse is in good form. Lisa O’Neill is out there with him and everything seems to be good.” Elliott told reporters on Monday.

Rosario is a seasoned pro, who has already won 5 Breeders’ Cup races. He will be the toast of Meath, if able to steer Beckford to victory in this top-class one-mile contest!

Others In Contention

Richard Fahey’s Sands Of Mali is also expected to start, but this one looked out of sorts in the Middle Park Stakes and he’ll go into the stalls at a big price. As for the Americans, James Garfield, Voting Control, Catholic Boy and Simon Callaghan’s Encumbered look the biggest threats to victory by a British or Irish-trained runner.

Like the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, this race has not been a happy hunting-ground for favourites (Pounce, in 2009, is the only winner). Aidan O’Brien has an excellent record though and 3 of his charges have previously secured the money – Wrote (2011), George Vancouver (2012) and Hit It a Bomb (2015). The Irish trainer also has a trio of 2nd-place finishes.

It’s just a few short days until the 2017 Breeders’ Cup gets underway and we hope you are all as excited as we are! Good luck, if you are having a bet on any of the outstanding contests that lie in wait for us all!

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