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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 1, 2016 at 5:58 PM

VOL. 16 - Number 3


In our first two editions of the 2016 SARATOGA SIGHTINGS we took a look at Juvenile Dirt Sprint Maidens and followed that with a look at Juvenile Turf Maidens (run at the sprint distance of 5 ½ furlongs and the two turn distance of 1 1/16ths miles.) If you haven't availed yourself of the information you can check it out in the archives.

Now it is time for the concluding segment of the Juvenile Previews as we look at the Two-Year Old Stakes Races. For purposes of this preview we are looking at the last three years (a total of 31 Juvenile Stakes at Saratoga) in order to get an idea of the approach you might want to consider.


Over the course of the last 3 years at Saratoga there have been 31 Juvenile Stakes Races with an average field size of 7.4 runners. As you might expect, trainer Todd Pletcher, known for his kindergarten classes held at the Spa enters by far the most runners.

Others who have been feted over the years for the precocity of their youngsters are Chad Brown, Steve Asmussen and Wesley Ward, a trio of conditioners who enter multiple juveniles during the meet and are usually far along when it comes to Baby Stakes races.

That being said, the results of the last three years should at least demand that a horse bettor look much further than the top trainers or even the favorites in finding legitimate contenders.

First let's take a look at the Juvenile Stakes races and the winners the last three years. Note that there were a different number of stakes each year with new ones added just a year ago.

The list includes (in order) the Stakes race, Winning Horse, Payoff (with notation [F] if the horse was the favorite and the winning trainer.

2015 Juvenile Stakes Races

Schuylerville - OFF THE TRACKS - $19.60 - Roderick Rodriguez
Sanford - UNCLE VINNY - $10.00 - Todd Pletcher
Adirondack - JUST WICKED - $8.70 - Steve Asmussen
Saratoga Special - EXAGGERATOR - $11.40 - Keith Desormeaux
Bolton Landing - SIMPLE SURPRISE - $7.20 - Steve Asmussen
Schenectady - TOO DISCREET - $4.30(F) - Christophe Clement
Funny Cide - SUDDEN SURPRISE - $3.80(F) - Todd Pletcher
Seeking The Ante - She's All Ready - $2.60(F) - James Ryerson
With Anticipation - AZAR - $24.40 - Todd Pletcher
P.G. Johnson - HARMONIZE - $6.40 - Bill Mott
Spinaway - RACHEL'S VALENTINA - $5.40(F) - Todd Pletcher
Hopeful - RALIS - $15.80 - Doug O'Neill

2014 Juvenile Stakes Races
Schuylerville - FASHION ALERT - 42.40(F) - Todd Pletcher
Sanford - BIG TROUBLE - $25.80 - Anthony Dutrow
Adirondack - CAVORTING - $9.50 - Kieran McLaughlin
Saratoga Special - I SPENT IT - $7.80(F) - Anthony Dutrow
Funny Cide - UPSTART - $5.10 - Richard Violette
Seeking The Ante - MYFOURCHIX - $19.60 - Richard Schosberg
P.G. Johnson - PARTISAN POLITICS - $11.20 - Chad Brown
With Anticipation - STARTUP NATION - $6.50 - Chad Brown
Spinaway - CONDO COMMANDO - $8.70 - Rudy Rodriguez
Hopeful - COMPETITIVE EDGE - $3.30(F)

2013 Juvenile Stakes Races
Schuylerville - BAHNAH (DH) - $2.40(F) - Brett Calhoun
Schuylerville - BRAZEN PERSUASION - $2.80 - Steve Asmussen
Sanford - WIRED BRYAN - $16.40 - Mike Dilger
Adirondack - DESIGNER LEGS - $35.00 - Dallas Stewart
Saratoga Special - CORFU - $15.00 - Todd Pletcher
P. G. Johnson - GRANNY MC'S KITTEN - $5.70 - Chad Brown
With Anticipation - BASHART - $7.70 - Todd Pletcher
Law Enforcement - FREE MUGATU - $9.60 - John Terranova
Spinaway - SWEET REASON - $7.00 - Leah Gyarmati
Hopeful - STRONG MANDATE - $16.60 - Wayne Lukas

There were a total of 32 Winners (one Dead-Heat) from the 31 races.

The average mutuel payoff of $10.93 was below the overall winning average but that must also be measured against the small (as you would expect from juveniles this early in their careers) average size filed of 7.4 runners.

There were 8 winning favorites from 31 winners (again allowing for the dead-heat) for a well below average 25.8%

As to the 4 trainers mentioned above, let's wrap up by taking a look at how they did over the 3 year period.

Todd Pletcher
35 Starters
4 Winning Favorites - 9 Beaten favorites
8 Winners - a respectable 22.8%
Average Win Payoff - $9.02
A $2 Wager On All $35 Starters returned a total of $72.10…just about break even.

Chad Brown
(It should be noted that most of Brown's accolades at the Spa have come from his juvenile maiden success. As you will se he has not started a number of juvenile Stakes races.)
7 Starters
0 Winning Favorites - 2 Beaten Favorites
3 Winners - 33%
Average Win Payoff $7.80
A $2 Wager On All 7 Starters returned a total of $23.40…a very productive R.O.I.

Both Pletcher and Brown must be kept within view when applying handicapping standards.

The complete opposite appears true of another pair of trainers who we guarantee you will hear pundits and TV talking heads talk glowingly about when it comes to their proficiency with juveniles. There numbers of the last three years suggest you proceed with caution.

Steve Asmussen has started 14 Juvenile Stakes Runners and Won with 3 of them at an average payoff of $6.23. $28 in wagers would have returned $18.70

Wesley Ward has started 9 Juvenile Stakes Runners, has yet to find the winners circle and has saddled a pair of beaten favorites.

As is our repeated mission. We present these overviews to give you an idea of what you should always take into consideration. Of course these are just examples as we have dozens of breakdowns on each of these approaches.

The summary for this segment is the same as it was for the first two juvenile overviews. If you have a solid reason for going against well-known outfits and/or the favorites, don't be afraid to take the stand.

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