Rating the Derby potential of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runners

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

November 6th, 2019

The November 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita was a major steppingstone on the 2019-2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby and awarded 20 Derby qualifications points to the winner.

But since the Juvenile is held six months prior to the Kentucky Derby—a long time in the sport of racing—its impact on the Run for the Roses varies from year to year. Some editions come up strong and produce a handful of major Derby contenders, while others come up weak and barely impact the outcome on the first Saturday in May.

Let’s look back at the eight horses who contested the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and use a 1-to-5 scale to rate their potential to make an impact on the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Storm the Court

He led from start to finish and showed admirable tenacity in the homestretch to hold off Anneau d’Or and spring a 45-1 upset. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue, but his immediate pedigree contains several turf influences, and it’s fair to wonder if grass might ultimately be his preferred surface. Regardless, the 102 Brisnet speed figure he posted in the Juvenile is solid. The improving colt warrants respect on the Derby trail.

Derby potential: 3

Anneau d’Or

Switched to dirt off a blowout debut win on grass at Golden Gate Fields, he just failed to run down Storm the Court after a wide trip. As a son of Medaglia d’Oro, out of the graded stakes-winning Tapit mare Walk Close, Anneau d’Oro is bred to relish classic distances and might be the most exciting prospect exiting the Juvenile.

Derby potential: 5

Wrecking Crew

This consistent colt secured his third consecutive graded stakes-placed effort in the Juvenile, when he tracked the pace to finish 3 1/4 lengths behind the top pair. This wasn’t a bad effort for his first try around two turns, but his form seems to have reached a plateau, which he’ll have to exceed to remain a factor on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Derby potential: 2


The Iroquois Stakes (G3) runner-up ran an even race to finish fourth in the Juvenile. Reserved in fifth place early on, the son of More Than Ready struggled to rally over the slow and tiring track, which may have tested the limits of his stamina. Scabbard is bred more like a miler than a router and could find classic distances to be beyond his reach.

Derby potential: 1

Full Flat

Japanese-based son of champion sprinter Speightstown outran expectations in his U.S. debut, defeating the two race favorites while missing fourth place by a neck. He’s bred for dirt and seemed to take a step forward in his first try on the surface, suggesting he could be a factor on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Derby potential: 2

Eight Rings

The runaway winner of the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) came up empty in the Juvenile, when he faded from a pace-pressing position to finish a dozen lengths behind Storm the Court. Considering how Eight Rings trounced Storm the Court by 8 1/4 lengths in the American Pharoah, it’s probably unwise to write off Eight Rings after one disappointing run. He can be a quirky competitor, but he has a stamina-oriented pedigree and figures to make some noise this winter for five-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

Derby potential: 3


The hopeful Stakes (G1) runner-up has the pedigree of a sprinter/miler and faded when the real running began in the Juvenile. He also weakened in the American Pharoah after he rallied into contention for the minor awards. A return to sprinting seems more likely than a trip down the Derby trail for this son of Into Mischief.

Derby potential: 1

Dennis’ Moment

The 9-10 betting favorite stumbled to his knees at the start and never recovered. But his stumble was so severe, I suggest drawing a line through his Breeders’ Cup performance. This stoutly bred son of Tiznow can still be a major Derby player off his convincing victory in the Iroquois at Churchill Downs.

Derby potential: 4