To run, or not to run? That is the question trainers and owners of many of the nation's best 2-year-olds are pondering as they consider whether it is prudent to have another prep race before the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.
For division leader Majestic Warrior, trainer Bill Mott is eyeing the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. Ready's Image, who finished second to Majestic Warrior in the Hopeful Stakes, also could run in the Champagne, but might end up at Keeneland that day in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Barclay Tagg and Steve Asmussen are heading straight to the Juvenile with, respectively, Tale of Ekati and Kodiak Kowboy, who finished one-two in last week's Belmont Futurity.
Pletcher is even contemplating that move with Ready's Image. The concern among some trainers is that running in a prep race on Oct. 6 gives them only three weeks until the Breeders' Cup.
"I don't like the Champagne and the Breeders' Futurity being three weeks out," Pletcher said. "I like four or five weeks."
There is little of importance for the division this weekend. The only race of significance is the $150,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder, but no top contenders for the Juvenile are expected to run. Instead, the last round of major preps for the Juvenile will unfold over the following two weekends.
The biggest race the weekend of Sept. 29-30 will occur Sept. 30 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, where Georgie Boy and Drill Down, the first- and third-place finishers in the Del Mar Futurity, are expected to compete in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes.
Salute the Sarge, second in the Del Mar Futurity, is training at Hollywood Park but will head to Keeneland for the Breeders' Futurity, according to trainer Eric Guillot.
Also possible for the Breeders' Futurity is Lantana Mob, the Sapling Stakes winner. Asmussen, his trainer, said he would run there or in the Champagne. The Roundhouse also is under consideration for both those races, according to Pletcher.
The Champagne is likely to include J Be K, an impressive maiden winner at Saratoga for trainer Bob Baffert, and Nick Zito-trained War Pass.