BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE TURF | PURSE: $1 MILLION | 2-YEAR-OLDS | 1 MILE (TURF)
The partners in Team Valor International rejoiced last year when Pluck rallied to capture the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The ownership group will have two shots at a repeat this year, with Lucky Chappy and State of Play assigned posts 12 and 14, respectively, in a capacity field of 14 in the $1 million race.
Lucky Chappy, an Irish-bred imported from Italy, had an adventurous stateside debut when finishing a troubled third in the Bourbon Stakes on opening weekend of the Keeneland fall meet. Following a terrible start, the colt still was able to salvage third, leading Team Valor to pony up the six-figure fee to make him Breeders' Cup-eligible.
Graham Motion, who trains both of the Team Valor starters, said of Lucky Chappy: "For him to break like that, knowing he was a front-runner in all his previous races, and to make up that much ground and finish full of run that was impressive."
State of Play is unbeaten in two career starts, both at Saratoga, ending with a front-running triumph in the Sept. 1 With Anticipation at 1 1/16 miles.
Team Valor and Motion already have hit the racing heights this year at Churchill when teaming to win the 137th Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom.
Besides the Team Valor pair, there are at least another half-dozen viable contenders in the Juvenile Turf, which shapes up as one of the best betting races either day as evidenced by the fact that the program favorite, Majestic City (post 8), is a very lukewarm 4-1 after finishing a close second in both the Del Mar Futurity and Breeders' Futurity.
Others in that sizable group include Animal Spirits (post 10) and Coalport (post 6), one-two in the Bourbon; European invader Caspar Netscher (post 7), a two-time Group 2 winner; Finale (post 13), winner of two turf stakes for Todd Pletcher, who trained Pluck last year; and Shkspeare Shaliyah (post 3), winner of the Pilgrim at Belmont.
Tequila Factor will be programmed as the lone also-eligible in the race as No. 15.