ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher are taking aim at the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with three horses each, hoping they find at least one contender for next year’s Kentucky Derby in the bunch.
Baffert seeks a record sixth Juvenile win when he saddles undefeated 4-1 shot Prince of Monaco, 4-1 shot Muth and 15-1 Wine Me Up in the 1 1/16-mile race. Pletcher goes for his fourth win in the race, having taken it last year with Forte.
This year, Pletcher has 7-2 early favorite Locked, Fierceness and Noted in the field of 11. Trainer Brad Cox has 4-1 shot Timberlake in the Juvenile, too.
“There’s some nice 2-year-olds in there,” Baffert said. “Pletcher has got some good ones.”
The Juvenile highlights five races Friday that kick off Breeders’ Cup weekend at Santa Anita, where Baffert is based.
“I don’t think it’s a big advantage,” he said. “I think I’ve won more races out of town than I have here.”
The Juvenile winner is typically tabbed as the early favorite for the next year’s Kentucky Derby and the race has frequently decided the Eclipse Award for top 2-year-old male horse.
Locked is the early 15-1 favorite in the initial Kentucky Derby future wagering, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
“We’ve been excited about him all summer and it’s been great to see his development. Hopefully, he makes another move forward in the Juvenile,” Pletcher said. “Of course, any time you have a promising 2-year-old at this time of year you can’t help but be thinking about the classics moving ahead.”
Baffert was banned from the Kentucky Derby the last two years and Churchill Downs Inc. said it was extending the six-time Derby winner’s exile to 2024.
“It’s impacted my business because we bought a lot of these horses thinking I was going to be back and spent a lot of money,” he said. “They came with it afterwards.”
Over $31 million in purses is up for grabs in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races. Two horses died at Santa Anita in the days leading up to the year-end world championships.
In the other races on Friday:
— Ireland-bred Big Evs is the early 3-1 favorite in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint.
— Tamara, a daughter of three-time Breeders’ Cup winner Beholder, is the early 4-5 favorite in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
— She Feels Pretty is the early 4-1 choice in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf.
— Ireland-bred River Tiber is the early 3-1 favorite in the $1 million Juvenile Turf.
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