One of the standout races on the opening day of the Breeders’ Cup action at Keeneland comes in the form of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 2022.
This race will set the very early pace for the 2023 Kentucky Derby, as the brightest two-year-olds on the dirt will be in action.
It looks like one of the deepest renewals of the race in many years, but Todd Pletcher has a very strong hand. Pletcher has won the Juvenile on two previous occasions, with his latest victory coming back in 2012 with Shanghai Bobby. However, could one of his leading contenders be the one to beat this year?
Forte Looks A Solid Contender
The top of the betting for the Juvenile makes for compelling reading at this stage. However, it’s hard to look past Forte as Pletcher’s best chance of a third victory in the race.
The two-year-old has been in excellent form throughout the season. He broke his maiden at Belmont Park over five furlongs in May, reaching a speed rating of 91. However, his performance level dipped on his return to the track in July, as he could only finish fourth in the G3 Sanford.
But, he returned to winning ways in sensational form on his reappearance in September, as he landed a Grade 1 for the first time.
That victory came over seven furlongs at Saratoga, as he blitzed the field in the G1 Hopeful. His chances of victory in the Juvenile were also enhanced with a strong performance in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity.
That success over the Juvenile course and distance looks to be the strongest form line heading into the race this year, as he held off the late challenge from Loggins to claim a second straight Grade 1 win.
Could Lost Ark Make A Challenge?
Forte isn’t the only challenger that could make the field from the Pletcher yard, as Lost Ark is another two-year-old eligible. The two-year-old does have something to prove in this sphere, as he was well beaten on his previous start. That defeat came in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, as he looked to struggle to make it home. Eventually, he finished the race back in sixth, but a decent speed rating of 89 was still recorded.
There is still every chance that he could improve from that first outing over 1 1/16 miles, as he was a very eye-catching winner in stakes company at the end of August. That win came at Monmouth Park, as he landed the Sapling Stakes over a mile. That performance also scored a rating of 91.
He was also a visually very impressive winner on debut at Belmont Park in July, as he broke his maiden with a rating of 89. There could be more to come from this well-bred runner.
Cave Rock Looks The Big Danger
There is a menacing presence at the top of the betting for the Juvenile this year, as Bob Baffert looks for a sixth win in the race. He was the winning trainer of the race last year, as Corniche set tongues wagging with a lightning display at Del Mar. However, this year could be all about his exciting two-year-old Cave Rock.
The runner was a very commanding victor in the G1 American Pharoah on his previous outing, which was his first start over 1 1/16 miles. He comes into this race at a multiple-time Grade 1 winner, having previously landed the G1 Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar in early September.
Cave Rock has already been a number of likely rivals in the Juvenile, including National Treasure, Skinner, and Hejazi, which certainly puts him among the most likely rivals for Forte and Lost Ark.