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Mike Smith celebrates as Corniche heads to the winner's circle after the Juvenile.
The $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance features 2-year-old colts and geldings going 1 1/16 miles on the main track in a race that usually determines the early Kentucky Derby favorite for next year. After morning line favorite Jack Christopher scratched, American Pharoah Stakes (G1) winner Corniche was sent off as the 7-5 favorite in the field of 11 over 3-1 Commandperformance, 2nd in the Champagne, and 6-1 Pinehurst, winner of the Del Mar Futurity (G1).
Corniche leads in the stretch.
Corniche was sent to the front immediately by jockey Mike Smith through fractions of 23.03, 46.15, and 1:10.81 while pressed by Pinehurst and stalked by Commandperformance. In the stretch Corniche opened up a 1 1/2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:36.27, and dug in to hold off late-running 15-1 Pappacap in 1:42.50. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 22-1 Giant Game third.
Purse: $2,000,000 Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 12 Corniche Smith 4.80 4.00 3.40 4 Pappacap Bravo 9.00 6.20 7 Giant Game Talamo 7.60 Winning Time: 1:42.50 $1 Exacta 12-4 25.10 $1 Trifecta 12-4-7 538.70 $1 Superfecta 12-4-7-10 2,622.10
Left: Corniche in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, “The only thing I was worried about was that he got hotter (before the race) than he ever had. It just made me get calmer. I don’t think I have ever been so calm in a big race. I just sat really still, he caught a flyer leaving the gate and just left him alone.”
Right: The trophy presentation for the Juvenile. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "Good horses, they find a way to win. We're very fortunate that he's a really good horse, really talented. My other horses are really talented. I was hoping to run one, two, three, because they were all doing so well. But you just don't know until you get them all in there together.
Left: Corniche in the paddock. Winning owner Peter Fluor said, "All we have is a plan A. This race was such a big race for Corniche and what it means to him and his two-year old standing. And we have said -- and Bob's doing a great job and we have a better chance of winning this race with our friend Bob Baffert and that's what happened. So we're kind of enjoying moment and down the road we'll focus on that later on, but thank you."
Right: Corniche heads back to the barn. Baffert added, Well the Derby is a long ways off and so right now my focus was just getting here and we'll see how it plays out. And there's still a lot of things going on and so - and, really, there's not much to talk about that right now, just, like I said, the main thing is to keep him healthy, that's number one, we have a really good horse, and we have to keep him healthy and the Derby, that's a long ways off still, so a lot can happen between now and then and we'll see how it -- we got to see how it plays out."
Left: Second place finisher Pappacap returns after the race. Jockey Joe Bravo said, "I'm just so proud of my big colt. He did everything great today. Mike (Smith) had everything his own way around there and I was just trying to stay on his tail and keep up." Trainer Mark Casse added, "You know what, he's a good horse and he's getting better. Now we have to figure out how to get him to the Kentucky Derby. He'll love the mile and a quarter."
Right: Third place finisher Giant Game in the post parade. Trainer Dale Romans said, "I think it's going to be a fun spring. I was real happy with him. Around the turn, I thought we were going to get it all. Congratulations to the winner. It was a big race by him. It's hard to beat Bob (Baffert) on his home court. I'm very proud of my horse and I think we are legitimately on the Derby trail here."
The horses break from the gate for the Juvenile. Joe Talamo aboard Giant Game said, "I had a lot of horse coming around the turn. He put me in a really great spot. He has a very bright future, this being only his third career start."
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