Edited Breeders’ Cup Notes Team Staff Release — Friday Recap: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile —
Forte – The winner’s blanket of flowers from Friday’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance sat draped over a sawhorse outside Barn 62 on Saturday morning.
“We are going to try to help out and give that one some company,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who will send out Life Is Good and Happy Saver in this afternoon’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) as well as Nest and Malathaat in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and Annapolis in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) presented by PDJF.
The Pletcher barn acquired the winner’s blanket thanks to Forte, who raced past 2-5 favorite Cave Rock to post a 1 ½-length victory for his third Grade 1 triumph of 2022.
“He’s happy and proud of himself this morning,” Pletcher said of Forte, who is owned by Mike Repole’s Repole Stable and Vinny Viola’s St. Elias Stable. “I thought he was more professional yesterday than he was when he won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) here.”
Pletcher said Forte would get a little break – “not sure where” – and then look at a two-prep program from Pletcher’s winter base at Palm Beach Downs in Florida leading up to the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1).
“He is a Kevin Durant type,” Pletcher said of Forte and alluding to the NBA star. “Tall, leggy, slender … always an impressive mover. Physically and mentally still developing and very much like his sire Violence. He was one of the first horses we got at Palm Beach (last winter) and right away, he was like ‘wow’.”
Wonder Wheel – D. J. Stable’s Wonder Wheel delivered a dominant performance in yesterday’s NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) for trainer Mark Casse. After breaking toward the back of the 13-horse field, jockey Tyler Gaffalione patiently waited to make his winning move. Around the far turn he passed horses along the rail before cutting to the outside at the top of the stretch and prevailing to win by 3 lengths.
“I think the performance was amazing by Tyler and Wonder Wheel,” Casse said. “They were both dealt a tough hand. Things didn’t go as planned. Obviously, we figured we would be up a little closer early. She didn’t break running yesterday like she has in the past, and she just put in an amazing trip. With the spots that Tyler had to go through it was astonishing actually. Tyler can only do those things when he has a horse like her. I’ve been doing this for 40-something years. There’s not a lot of awe moments, but that was an awe moment for me. She’s a young horse that had to overcome a lot of adversities and she won with authority so I’m very proud of her, and proud of our entire organization.”
The Future Stars Friday victory gave Casse his first win in the Juvenile Fillies and gave Gaffalione his first Breeders’ Cup win.
“Of course, I don’t think anybody has ever questioned what I think of Tyler,” Casse said. “He won his first Grade 1 for us, he won his first classic race for us, and now he has won his first Breeders’ Cup race with us so I’m proud of that.”
The Juvenile Fillies serves as a Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier worth 30 points for the daughter of Into Mischief. With her previous win in the Darley Alcibiades, Wonder Wheel now sits at the top of the current Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 40 points.
“She proved that she is truly a champion and she’s not just good on one day,” Casse said. “I’ll have to talk to the Greens (Leonard, Louis and son Jon) about where we start and where we go, but we will be looking at the Oaks and the Derby.”
Casse reported that Wonder Wheel will ship out Sunday morning to spend the winter at his training facility in Ocala, Florida while they assess the next move for the filly.
A fantastic Friday for the European quarantine barn with three winners, two seconds and two fourths. Aidan O’Brien led the way with his double narrowly denying Charlie Appleby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) with Victoria Road beating Silver Knott.
Both trainers once again have a strong hand to play today with their runners.
All juvenile horses seem fit and well this morning after their exertions yesterday.
This morning only today’s runners from Charlie Appleby, Ralph Beckett, John Gosden and Francis-Henri Graffard’s barns left the quarantine to train.
Graffard was trackside and said, “Malavath (Mile) has had a good week preparing for today’s race. She ran very well at the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar last year so I’m hoping she can put in a big performance today.”