The connections of Breeders' Cup hopefuls must regularly weigh their options, seeking to determine if one prep better suits their horse than another. But owners and trainers of potential Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf competitors have even more to consider with five weeks remaining before the race.
With field size for the one-mile Juvenile Turf restricted to 12 horses -- fewer than the Breeders' Cup norm of 14 starters -- there is a greater possibility of an oversubscribed field when the race has its inaugural running at Monmouth Park Oct. 26.
Provided the race overfills, six horses would automatically gain entry to the race based on points earned by top-three finishes in U.S. graded stakes, and the remaining six starters, plus an alternates list, would then be determined by the Breeders' Cup selection committee.
The dilemma facing horsemen is that there are no graded races for 2-year-olds on turf in the U.S. prior to the Breeders' Cup. So horsemen must decide whether they want to run their horses on turf, seemingly their preferred surface, or aim to earn points by competing in a graded race on dirt or on a synthetic surface.
Mike Maker, trainer of Juvenile Turf hopeful Cherokee Triangle, has chosen to play to his horse's strength, turf racing. He entered his colt, the runner-up in the Cradle Stakes on grass, in Saturday's $200,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs, citing the rich purse and the recovery time it would allow his colt before the Breeders' Cup.
Even if Cherokee Triangle wins, he is not assured of making the Juvenile Turf field. He has no graded stakes points and the Sunday Silence is ungraded.
If the race is oversubscribed, one of the six selection committee bids is virtually assured of going to Prussian, who ranks as the division leader after pushing his record to 2 for 2 in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine last weekend.
Other bids could be extended to European-based runners who have established graded-stakes form on grass. That might allow for just a few other North American horses other than Prussian to land bids from the selection committee, with the others going on an alternates list.