Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Uncle Mo: Why Winning the BC Juvenile is a Bad Thing

No 2 year old Breeders Cup Juvenile champ has been around to ENTER a Belmont Stakes since 1985, not win, not hit the board, we are talking not even able or qualified to enter. That to me is a much more incredible streak than our lack of recent Triple Crown champions.

Legend Street Sense seems to be the only one that missed the race by choice; all others were either hit with the injury bug or simply not accomplished enough to continue after lackluster beginnings to their respective 3yo seasons, albeit just months after top 2yo campaigns ended with BC victories.

In fact, during this 25 year window, we only have 3 Preakness starters (Looking at Lucky, Street Sense, and Timber Country), as 22 out of the 25 other BC Juvenile champs were unable to attend. As Charles Barkley would say; “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” I had to look it up 3 times to believe my eyes. Yet, time and time again Steve Haskin comes out with his list of The Derby Dozen in January with the BC Juvenile champ typically placed in that number one slot, no thank you DRF – his last 6 picks at this early stage have a single 10th place effort to show out of one start.

Not coincidentally, of this somewhat less than stellar group, Street Sense is the sole Derby winner and Carl Nafzger was known to breeze his other Derby champ, Unbridled, 4F the day before the Derby:

(again I don’t expect you to believe me, click this link or read his book entitled Traits of a Winner)

So, we can rightfully assume that Street Sense was conditioned a bit differently than some of his other competition, which lines up just fine with my theories and observations, thankfully.

What else am I missing here? The top 2yo performances in November, followed by nothing 95+% of the time just 6 months later?

Is this just horseracing and the fragile thoroughbred, or can we add anything to this mix to turn these numbers around over the next 25 years?

Can we credit pedigree for 2yo precociousness and then turn around and blame pedigree for 3yo disappointments in the same damn colt?

Other trainers in this group include – Lukas 5 times, Baffert twice, Pletcher, Zito, etc. Some big names, and some not so big names.

With just one Derby win from the group, that of Street Sense and Nafzger, this certainly does not bode well for Uncle Mo.

In summary:

25 BC Juvenile champs:
Ky Derby – 11: 1-0-1
Preakness – 3: 2-1-0
Belmont – 0: 0-0-0

P.S. Chief’s Crown was the 1984 champ, at the first BC held, and hit the board in all 3 Triple Crown races that year. If during reading the above, you already knew this, you are one sharp horseperson. Of course I had to leave him out until the end to hammer my point home, as all good bloggers do. Politicians would just bury this info, however.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article from 2004 that basically discounts all of my post:

    Written before Street Sense, Mr. Kling shows how nearly 50% of all BC Juvenile starters go on to win stakes races later on in their careers.

    Maybe so, but that is not my point. My point is BC Juvie Winners (not starters) and the Kentucky Derby (not a stakes win at 4 or later).

    Winners obviously have to peak compared to their competition at 2. Winners have gone on to get injured 50% of the time before May of their 3yo season. Winners have never been able to even start the Belmont. Never, not once.

    I'll surely agree that 2yo colts able to start in the BC Juvenile go on to have nice careers - but winners seem to have outrun their skins too early, come back training softly the following year, and find the injury bug more often than one would think. Again Street Sense is the only exception and his trainer has a history of being less than conventional.

    Uncle Mo is a perfect example. The sheer fact of his brilliance in the BC at 2 may be his ultimate undoing. Remember War Pass?

    These colts are precisely those who can handle, and thrive under more racing and more works - but they never get it. Pletcher and others stick to roughly the same regimens they give other 3yo with much less proven ability.

    Kling does have it right in one respect: traits that make you a mile champ at 2 are not often the same ones that make you a 1.25 mile champ at 3.