Modern Games wins last year’s Juvenile Turf (Benoit Photo)
By Margaret Ransom
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T), worth $1 million once again, is a one-mile grass event for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Inaugurated in 2007 at Monmouth Park, this year it will be contested for the 16th time and for the second time over Keeneland’s turf course.
Overall, the event has been dominated by Europeans as ten of the 15 winners have come from powerful European stables – four from Aidan O’Brien, three from Charlie Appleby, two from John Gosden and another from Frenchman Francois Parisel. The American trainers to have saddled Juvenile Turf winners so far are Todd Pletcher, Wesley Ward, Brian Lynch, Chad Brown and Mike Maker.
European champion jockey Ryan Moore has been aboard all four of O’Brien’s winners and leads all riders in number of victories in the race, while the powerful Coolmore partnership of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith owned them all. William Buick picked up his second Juvenile Turf win aboard Modern Games for Godolphin a year ago at Del Mar.
In 2009, the race went from ungraded to a grade 2 and by the 2011 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs it was upgraded to a grade 1 and has maintained the prestigious grade deserving of a Breeders’ Cup Race ever since.
Some of the more notable winners since its inception include promising freshman sire Oscar Performance, who owns the stakes record of 1:33.28 for the one-mile turf test at Santa Anita in 2016; Mendelssohn, also a leading freshman sire and the winner of the 2016 UAE Derby (G1); and the aforementioned Modern Games, who parlayed his win a year ago into a solid sophomore season that included wins in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Woodbine Mile (GIT) a month ago. He is scheduled to return to action in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T).