Vindication won the Juvenile in impressive fashion.
The Juvenile, run at 1 1/8 miles this year, featured the best two-year-olds of the season with the exception of morning line favorite Sky Mesa who had to be scratched due to injury. Whywhywhy was bet down to the 5-2 favorite off his three-race win streak. Also in this event were 4-1 second choice Vindication, one of three entrants trained by Bob Baffert, and the 5.50-1 third choice Hold That Tiger, one of three European shippers trained by Aidan O'Brien.
When the field got underway, Mike Smith sent Vindication straight to the front to lead the procession through the quarter in 23.29 and the half in 46.11, after which he was briefly headed by fellow Baffert stablemate Bull Market, who set the 3/4 in 1:09.98. At this point, the third Baffert horse, Kafwain, who had been back in seventh early, was being hustled up by Victor Espinoza. But, Vindication would not be denied, shaking off Bull Market, getting the mile in 1:35.80, and drawing off to win by 2 3/4 widening lengths in a final time of 1:49.61 over the drying "fast" track. Kafwain held second 2 1/4 lengths in front of Hold That Tiger while Bull Market faded to fourth. Favored Whywhywhy faded to a disappointing 10th place finish after being in midpack early. In the trainer battle, Bob Baffert trained the first two finishers plus fourth place Bull Market, while Aidan O'Brien's trainees finished third, fifth, and eighth.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Vindication Smith 10.20 6.20 4.00 2 Kafwain Espinoza 16.00 8.40 3 Hold That Tiger Fallon 4.60
The start of the Juvenile with Tomahawk and Hold That Tiger spotting the field a good 3 or 4 lengths. Their trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "It was a totally new experience for them, but they ran well. Kieren said Hold That Tiger was watching the stall handler at the break."
Vindication returns after the race to get his flowers. Jockey Mike Smith said, "People were talking about his Beyers [speed figures] not being very fast, but he just gave me a burst of speed today. He was extremely sharp. I had a long hold on him, he pricked his ears and he was happy. I said all along I was expecting big things today and you know what that means."
Owner Satish Sanan, his wife Ann, and his children at the trophy presentation. Sanan said: "We had a tremendous amount of success the couple of years when we started. We had some bad times, and in this game you've got to stick with it. We continued to invest and we're going to continue to invest. Every now and then you need a big one and this is the one and we do feel vindicated."
Vindication heads to the track for the post parade. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "He's a paparazzi horse right now. He's going to get all the flash and stuff. That was pretty impressive. You always hope they will run that way and sometimes they don't. I knew all my horses were doing great so I had a lot of confidence."
Second place finisher Kafwain in the post parade. His jockey Victor Espinoza said, "At one point I thought I could win it. Then I saw how easily Vindication was running. I knew he would be hard to catch. I had to work to get my horse that close. He ran well, he tried hard, he has a big heart. It's hard for a horse like mine on a track like today. All the speed is holding. My horse was the only one to come from behind."
Third place finisher Hold That Tiger in the post parade. Jockey Kieren Fallon said, "He didn't break well. He wasn't on the ball like the Americans. We had to go wide and I had to ask him o run early, but he came running at the end." Trainer Aidan O'Brien added, "I would love to think he could be a Kentucky Derby horse next year."
Beaten favorite Whywhywhy, who finished tenth, in the post parade. His jockey Pat Day said, "He broke good and clean. He tracked the leaders going into the first turn. He felt strong on the backside between the Baffert horses. Around the half-mile pole they eased away from us. He had no response turning for home and was going nowhere in the stretch."
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