Baffert Aims for Another Triple Crown Run With Favorite in Breeders' Cup Juvenile

game winner horse

David Schwab

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 6:26 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 6:26 PM UTC

Most horse racing fans would agree that the Kentucky Derby is the biggest race of the year. It features the top three-year old thoroughbreds competing for the sport’s most prestigious title. The road to Churchill Downs in early May actually starts the year before with the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile the first Friday in November.

Officially known as the Sentient Jet Juvenile as the featured event on Friday’s five-race card as part of the 14 races that make up the Breeders’ Cup, this Grade 1 event is the big coming-out party for some of the best up-and-coming two-year old thoroughbreds. This year’s Breeders’ Cup heads to venerable Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3 with $30 million in prize money up for grabs over the course of horse racing’s biggest two-day event of the year.

This year’s Juvenile will be contested on the dirt track at Churchill at a distance of 1 1/16 miles with a total prize purse of $2 million. Following Monday’s draw for post positions in this race, the current field lists 14 two-year old thoroughbreds as entered.

Top Head-to-Head Matchup

With the post positions set, the jockeys in place and the morning line odds on the board, this year’s Juvenile points to a head-to-head matchup between Game Winner as the 8/5 favorite going up against Complexity at 5/2 odds. Right off the bat, this would make an excellent exacta pick boxed. While the overall return would be minimal, this is the type of race where you might want to go chalk.

Game Winner is trained by Bob Baffert, fresh off his run to last year’s Triple Crown title with Justify. Jockey Joel Rosario is slated to get the ride breaking from the No. 9 post. This two-year old Kentucky-bred colt is a perfect 3-0 in his early racing career highlighted by a recent victory in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29. He covered the 1 1/16 miles on dirt in 1:43.77 over Gunmetal Gray and Rowayton. This sire of Candy Ride comes into this race with a Horse Racing Nation rating of 7.24 as the highest in the field.

Trainer Chad Brown’s top entry in this race will have jockey Jose Ortiz aboard breaking from the No. 6 post. Complexity is coming off his impressive victory in this year’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. This is another two-year old Kentucky-bred colt and he covered the one mile run in that race in 1:34.63 ahead of Code of Honor and Call Paul. The son of Maclean’s Music started his racing career with a victory in a six-furlong Maiden Special Weight race at Saratoga in early September.

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Code of Honor has been opened as a 5/1 third-favorite in this race at the No. 11 post following the second-place finish behind Complexity at Belmont. Trained by Claude McGaughey III and ridden by veteran jockey John Velazquez, this Kentucky-bred two-year old is a pedigree of Noble Mission. His HRN rating is set at 6.53 with two finishes in the money so far. He won a MSW race at Saratoga his first time out on Aug. 18 at a distance of six furlongs.

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Street Sense and Nyquist won the Juvenile on their Road to Kentucky Derby victory. Learn more about this year's likely Derby favorite.https://t.co/UmgNByiR1Z

— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) October 30, 2018
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Stretching the Odds

If you are looking to take a flyer on a juvenile at longer odds for Friday’s race, you might want to take a closer look at trainer Ben Colebrook’s Knicks Go. This two-year old Maryland-bred colt with break from the No. 10 post as a 30/1 longshot with jockey Albin Jimenez getting the call. He stunned the field in this year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6 at 1 1/16 miles over Signalman and Standard Deviation in 1:44.23. This was this son of Paynter’s fourth run of the year and third finish in the money.

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