This weekend is going to be a big one in terms of “Win and You’re In” prep races for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The attention of North American racing fans will be primarily focused on Sunday’s Summer Stakes (gr. I) at Woodbine, but given the impressive history of success by foreign raiders in the Juvenile Turf, it could pay to keep an eye on Saturday’s KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Eng-II) at Leopardstown, a one-mile event that has attracted nine starters.
Three of them will represent the barn of trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Juvenile Turf on four occasions since 2011. Based on form to date and Racing Post Ratings, #1 Broome might be the best of the trio considering his sixth-place finish in the Acomb Stakes (Eng-II) at York last month. But the up-and-coming last-out maiden winners #8 Sydney Opera House and #9 Western Australia, both sons of Australia, are steadily improving and could be poised to step up on Saturday.
Furthermore, O’Brien’s runners are far from the only promising horses entered in the Juvenile Stakes. The favorite is actually expected to be #5 Madhmoon, who had no difficulty defeating Sydney Opera House by 2 ¾ lengths in a maiden race over this course and distance on August 16th. Trained by Kevin Prendergast, the son of Dawn Approach will seek to bring his record to a perfect 2-for-2 on Saturday.
#6 Masaff, a maiden winner at the Curragh three months ago for trainer Dermot Weld, looms as another major player, while #7 Pythion was quite gallant in securing a dead-heat victory going a mile at Leopardstown on July 26th, his lone start to date. Returning on short rest for trainer Joseph O’Brien is #4 Cosmic Horizon, who found the third time to be the charm on September 3rd at Roscommon, breaking his maiden after two previous defeats. He’s coming back in less than two weeks, but the son of Excelebration seems to be on the rise and might improve once again.
#3 Copia Verborum, fourth behind Cosmic Horizon on September 3rd, will be among the longshots in the wagering along with #2 Channel Stuffer, a 0-for-3 maiden who finished seventh against the well-regarded Ten Sovereigns in a six-furlong sprint at the Curragh last time out.
The KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes is the third race of the day at Leopardstown, with a post time of 11:25 a.m. Eastern. Later events on the stakes-packed card include the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Ire-I) and the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I).