LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Game Winner took the the first step toward the 2019 Kentucky Derby for trainer Bob Baffert by winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Friday.
An overcast, brisk autumn day at historic Churchill Downs greeted 42,249 race fans on the first day of the 35th annual Breeders’ Cup.
This year’s 14 Breeders’ Cup (BC) races have purses totaling $30 million, culminating in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Here’s a capsule look at the five races concluded Friday under the Twin Spires:
Juvenile Turf Sprint: Bulletin ($10.60) won the inaugural $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint for 2-year-olds for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won his 10th career BC race. Javier Castellano won his ninth BC race riding the son of City Zip. Bulletin paid $6.20 to place and $4.40 to show. Longshot Chelsea Cloisters finished 2 3/4 lengths back in second and paid $19.80 and $10.60. So Perfect ($5.80) was third.
Juvenile Fillies Turf: Chad Brown continued his dominance in Breeders’ Cup turf races winning with heavy favorite Newspaperofrecord ($3.20) by 6 3/4 lengths in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode the winner, who went gate-to-wire and paid $2.60 to place and $2.40 to show. East finished second from outside post No. 14 and paid $8.20 for second and $6 for show. Stellar Agent finished third and paid $21.
Juvenile Fillies: Jaywalk ($13) led them around the Churchill strip to win the $2 million Juvenile Fillies in her first time around two turns. The daughter of Cross Traffic gave trainer John Servis his first Breeders’ Cup win by 5 1/2 lengths. Joel Rosario rode the filly to victory that paid $5.20 to place and $4.20 to show. Restless Rider was second, denying trainer Kenny McPeek his first BC victory in his 30th attempt. Vibrance finished third to pay $10.80 for the show.
Juvenile Turf: Euro invader Line of Duty ($9) became the first come-from-behind winner of the day with a late closing burst to win the $1 million Juvenile Turf for trainer Charles Appleby with William Buick up. The son of Galileo paid $5.20 to place and $4.20 for third. Uncle Benny finished second by a half-length to pay $8 to place and $5.80 to show. Pace setter Somelikeithotbrown gave way to the top two in deep stretch and paid $8.20 to show.
Juvenile: Game Winner ($4) made an early move going into the second turn to find position on his way to win the $2 million Juvenile. Joel Rosario won his second race of the day, winning both 2-year-old dirt races. It was the fourth Juvenile win for Baffert. Game Winner, a son of Candy Ride, cruised past Knicks Go to register a 2 1/4-length victory and paid $3.20 to place and $2.80 to show. Knicks Go, who went off at 40-1, ran a huge second and paid $21.40 to place and $11.20 for show. Longshot Signalman paid $15.80 to show, finishing third from the furthest outside post.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.