Cave Rock at work Thursday morning. Coady Photography
• Cave Rock, National Treasure, Forte, Lost Ark, Verifying
• Race Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
Breeders’ Cup Notes/Edited
LEXINGTON, Ky.—While fashioning an unbeaten record in three starts, Juvenile favorite Cave Rock has run away from the competition, winning by an average of 5 ½ lengths.
The son of the late champion Arrogate out of the Bellamy Road mare Georgie’s Angel, will start from post three under jockey Juan Hernandez and is 4-5 on the morning line. The colt is co-owned by longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
“Why is he so fast?” Baffert said. “Probably because his sire is one of the fastest horses I ever trained, one of the greatest horses I ever trained. He has the God-given talent of speed, and he gets it from both sides of the family. He’s powerful. He’s very mature. If you look at him.”
Baffert will try to win his record-breaking sixth Juvenile with Cave Rock and National Treasure, a Quality Road colt co-owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables, who drew the outside post in the field of 10.
“National Treasure is very talented, too, but he’s hasn’t really filled into his frame,” Baffert said. “I think Cave Rock is a very mature. He looks like a 3-year-old, just one of those horses that just really came around quickly. For the way he’s bred, he’s not supposed to run till later on, but he just came around quickly. He’s powerful. He’s quick. He’s fast. He showed when he turned for home, he caught another gear. Every time he runs, he shows me something else.”
When he was purchased as a yearling for $550,000 Cave Rock was named Theology. His new owners re-named him for a 360-foot high by 800-foot-wide remnant of an ancient volcano that sits on the southeastern shore of Lake Tahoe in western Nevada.
Cave Rock and National Treasure galloped on the track at Keeneland Thursday morning.
Trainer Todd Pletcher’s quest for a third victory in the Juvenile rests with two colts who possess something none of their eight rivals have: a race over the track at the Juvenile distance of 1 1/16m.
Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s two-time Grade 1 winner Forte, the 4-1 second choice on the line, was shipped to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Futurity to get a race over the track and try two turns for the first time. Pletcher’s two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners, Uncle Mo and Shanghai Bobby, both had their final preps in the one-turn Champagne at Belmont.
Forte passed that two-turn test with a neck victory while Harrell Ventures’ Lost Ark, half-brother to Distaff morning line favorite Nest, had a troubled trip and finished sixth in a field of 14.
Forte will break from post four under regular pilot Irad Ortiz Jr. while Lost Ark, a 20-1 morning line proposition, will break from post eight under Luis Saez. Saez will be aboard for the first time.
“They both have tactical speed and need to get a good position like the fillies,” Pletcher said alluding to his two starters two races earlier in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Trainer Brad Cox will try to repeat the success he had two years ago at Keeneland in the Juvenile when he sends out Verifying with jockey Joel Rosario onboard. The Justify colt comes in with a win and a second and will be trying two turns for the first time, while 2020 winner Essential Quality was undefeated and had a two-turn race under his belt when he won.
“Verifying is doing great,” Cox said. “I think he’s going to love the two turns. I’m excited about getting him around two turns. He’s trained great and his numbers stack up, so we’ll see what happens Saturday.”