Make no mistake, the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf may anchor Friday’s opening day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. But the adventures of Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games and Albahr in that race might as well be the chorus when it comes to “Future Stars Friday,” as Breeders’ Cup officials call Friday.

Jack Christopher-BC Friday
After his 102 Beyer Speed Figure-clocking victory in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, Jack Christopher figures to take a lot of money in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Can he navigate two turns to pay off bettors backing him at low odds? (Image: Joe Labozzetta/NYRA Photos)

The main event? What it always is: the $2 million Juvenile, starring Jack Christopher and Corniche.

Those are the two finales in the Breeders’ Cup’s five-race Friday. All five are for 2-year-olds: the Juvenile Turf, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile Turf Sprint. That latter race is the only Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup race.

As usual, the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile commands the most attention. That’s because the winner of this race not only puts a virtual hammerlock on the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old, but puts the winner first-among equals among early 2022 Kentucky Derby favorites. Meaning if you think one of the favorites wins the Juvenile, get Derby futures money down on him now.

East vs. West in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

All eyes here move to Chad Brown’s Jack Christopher, who won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes last month at Belmont Park. He starts on the rail as the 9/5 favorite, largely a byproduct of the 102 Beyer Speed Figure he displayed romping to that Champagne victory.

Challenging that East Coast invader is Bob Baffert’s Corniche, himself dominant in the Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita Park at this distance. Corniche starts on the opposite end of the gate: post 12, as the 5/2 second-favorite.

If you think Corniche is Baffert’s next great juvenile, he may offer more value there than the odds warrant. Unlike Jack Christopher, Corniche has run two turns before. And in the Juvenile – as we saw last year with Jackie’s Warrior vs. Essential Quality – two-turn experience is underrated.

Del Mar was one of the outlier sites here

VSiN’s and Horse Racing Nation’s Ron Flatter pointed out that only twice in the last decade did a horse without two-turn experience win the Juvenile. Those were Shanghai Bobby at Santa Anita in 2012 and Good Magic here at Del Mar four years ago.

As far as that Juvenile Turf goes, Irish import Dubawi Legend is your 4/1 morning-line favorite. But fellow shippers and Godolphin stablemates Modern Games (5/1) and Albahr (6/1) may suck most of the oxygen from this race. Don’t be surprised if one of those is the favorite when the gates open. Don’t be surprised either if top American young grass runner Mackinnon goes off lower than his 8/1 morning line.

Don’t be surprised if Echo Zulu goes off at far lower odds than her 4/5 morning line. She’s clocked three 90-plus Beyers in as many starts. Two of those three came in rousing Grade 1 wins: the Spinaway at Saratoga and a 7 ¼-length demolition in the Frizette at Belmont Park. Juju’s Map and Hidden Connection, both 5/2, offer intriguing alternatives.

Bobby Flay cooked up another filly to watch

Few races are more wide open than the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf. Seven contenders, led by celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s 5/1 morning-line favorite Pizza Bianca, make this a perfect handicapper’s puzzle. More than one bettor will want California Angel to solve that puzzle. The 8/1 filly is George Leonard III’s first trainee to make the Breeders’ Cup in his 30-year training career.

That happened after California Angel won the last “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series Race: the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland.

Not surprisingly, two Wesley Ward products: Averly Jane and Twilight Gleaming, will command Breeders’ Cup bettors’ attentions and wallets for the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint. Your 5/2 favorite, Averly Jane is 4-for-4, winning the Indian Summer at Keeneland last out. Twilight Gleaming (4/1) finished second in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in June, then won a minor stakes in France. Keep an eye on Speakeasy Stakes winner One Timer (4/1).