Chance upsets Cavern Rock to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

He may have favored Cave Rock’s stretch for a 1 1/2-length upset victory Friday in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to become the early 2023 Kentucky Derby favorite.

Todd Pletcher, a seasoned veteran of the late Strong and Peeking Rock, fended off the early challenge of 30-1 long shot Storm, won the 1 1/16 mile race in 1.43.06.

“The horse deserves credit. A good race,” said AGASO Irad Ortiz after his 15th career Cup win.

“When it was time to go, we just hit it open, I hit him once and he started moving forward. I knew he was going to be a tough beat.”

The $2 million dirt display topped five open races for two-year-olds in the two-day, 14-race event worth $30 million at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, as drama builds to Saturday’s three-year-old races, topped by a. $6 million, 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Series.

Runner-up Cave Rock, odds-on favorite at 2-5, and third-place National Treasure (8-1) are trained by Bob Baffert, who has a record-tying five wins as a youngster.

“He ran a strong race. He beat a good horse,” Baffert said of Cave Rock. “Perhaps a great nation ran and came and stood us up.”

Famed trainer Baffert returned to Kentucky for the first time since being banned from Churchill Downs in the event Medina’s spirits tested positive after the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Pletcher won his 13th Breeders’ Cup race and third in the Juveniles, but was not comfortable until the 4-1 Chance ran past Baffert’s entry in the final strides.

“You know when you get to Bob’s team he’s going to find something else,” Pletcher said. “I thought we had him but when he passed he was very happy.

“It definitely pays to come here.”

– Two wins for Brien –

Irish trainer Aedan O’Brien won his first $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf after fourteen previous defeats, taking his 14th Breeders’ Cup victory overall thanks to Irish horse Meditate with Ryan Moore aboard.

“Fill it in, she made it very easy,” Moore said. “A lot of talent. He hasn’t run a bad race all year.”

The 2-1 winner, when Moore rode the X Breeders Cup winner, completed the mile in 1.35.38 to win by 2 1/2 lengths with a comfortable pass with Cairo Consort third.

“We weren’t sure about the mile, but Ryan gave it a great ride,” O’Brien said. “Michael is very confident that this is the race for him. It’s incredible of course. I’m so pleased with everyone.”

For his second win of the day, Moore and O’Brien collected their fifth race in the Juvenile Turf, winning the Victoria Road mile by a nose for a team of Irish horses in a row.

Bad Magic charged the middle to win the 5 1/2-furlong juvenile turf sprint in 1:02.41 to give British trainer Charlie Appleby his first four consecutive race wins.

The Godolphin stable horse, who went to 6-1 with the ace William Buick, held off runner Dramatized to win by a length with Secret Symbol third.

“Everything just came together for him,” Buick said after his sixth Breeders’ Cup win.

Appianus, a seven-place winner, has won in 12 Breeders’ Cup starts, the Turf, the Mile and the Juvenile Turf four years ago in a row.

“Fantastic ride from William,” said Appianus. “He got him back in there for the lead and they ran nicely inside.”

Amazing Wheel took the victory in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, completing the 1 1/6 mile course in 1:44.90 before leaving no trace and the sea boiling.


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