With the scratch of 9-5 early line favorite Jack Christopher from today’s Juvenile, all the air squeaked out of the Juvenile balloon: We’ll have to wait until 2022 to find out who’s better, Jack Christopher or Corniche?
Of course, Corniche (5-2) has to bring his A game and prove he’s worthy of an Eclipse title. All he needs to do that is win, and do it from the extreme outside in a two-turn race at Del Mar; not easy as even casual handicappers realize.
His great one prep for this was visually pleasing and was simply more than a speedy two-year-old going wire to wire. While on the lead, he made several moves, Mike Smith pushing and releasing the accelerator, an apparent learning exercise for both horse and rider.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has two other entrants in today’s renewal, appears to have himself to beat. Stablemate Pinehurst (8-1) is also undefeated and was just as impressive, albeit in a subtle fashion by comparison. Indeed, he was going to be our value win play and still might be but ultimately the tote will decide.
At the moment, I cannot separate the two Todd Pletcher runners, mirror images in my mind, and two of my personal value trainers, Mark Casse and Keith Desormeaux, are both in here with horses that are double-digits on the early line; Pappacap (15-1) and Oviatt Class (20-1), respectively, each with plenty of SoCal experience.
None of the four will hold the early line quotes, each will be depressed ante post. We will key the two Baffert runners with each other and over the two price shots above. I will take no lower than 4-1 on Pinehurst straight. If unavailable, we hope that a 2 x 4 part wheel gets it, and we’ll try to optimize by keying Corniche above the others in the trifecta.