Corniche Goes All The Way In Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; No Derby Points Awarded To Baffert Trainee

“Big Money Mike” Smith, the winningest rider in the history of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with 26 victories at the start of Friday’s card, took advantage of limited opportunities this year when piloting Speedway Stables’ Corniche to victory in Friday’s $2 million Juvenile. The 2-year-old son of Quality Road led the field of 11 on a merry chase around the Del Mar oval, completing 1 1/16 miles over the fast track in 1:42.50.

“The only thing I was worried about was that he got hotter (before the race) than he ever had,” Smith said. “It just made me get calmer. I don’t think I have ever been so calm in a big race. I just sat really still, he caught a flyer leaving the gate and just left him alone.”

Off as the favorite at odds of 7-5, Corniche defeated Pappacap (15-1) by 1 3/4 lengths at the wire. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Giant Game (21-1) in third, with the maiden Commandperformance (3-1) checking in fourth.

Since Corniche is trained by Bob Baffert, who is currently banned by Churchill Downs, the colt will not earn the 20 points on offer for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Neither did Corniche earn the 10 points on offer for his victory in the G1 American Pharoah Stakes. Meanwhile, Pappacap earns eight points, Giant Game four, and Commandperformance two.

“K.C. (Weiner) and I never thought about moving the horse to another trainer,” said Speedway’s Peter Fluor. “We talked to Bob right after we bought the horse, he liked the horse, and so the horse was always coming to Bob. And three races and kind of look how he’s done, so, with a great deal of thanks to Bob, and that’s where we are.”

The updated Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings are available here: Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

The victory is the fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for Baffert and 18th overall.

“Well the Derby is a long ways off and so right now my focus was just getting here and we’ll see how it plays out,” said Baffert. “And there’s still a lot of things going on and so – and, really, there’s not much to talk about that right now, just, like I said, the main thing is to keep him healthy, that’s number one, we have a really good horse, and we have to keep him healthy and the Derby, that’s a long ways off still, so a lot can happen between now and then and we’ll see how it — we got to see how it plays out.”

Smith sent Corniche hard out of his outermost post position, making it over to the rail to grab the lead as he rounded into the clubhouse turn. The colt set measured fractions of :23.03 and :46.15, maintaining a length advantage over Pinehurst and Commandperformance in the early going.

Pappacap made a move up the inside down the backstretch to be third heading for the clubhouse turn, but Smith had given Corniche just enough of a breather before the half-mile pole that the race was already decided.

Corniche turned for home with a two-length lead, and while Pappacap moved up the rail and Giant Game made a huge move on the outside, there was no catching the leader in the stretch. Corniche won by 1 3/4 lengths, with Pappacap second, Giant Game third, and Commandperformance fourth. Oviatt Class and Pinehurst dead-heated for fifth. The remaining order of finish was: American Sanctuary, Double Thunder, Barossa, Jasper Great, and Tough To Tame.

The morning-line favorite Jack Christopher was scratched Thursday night.

Bred in Kentucky by Bart Evans and Stonehaven Steadings, Corniche is out of the multiple graded stakes winning, Grade 1-placed Najran mare Wasted Tears. He was a $1.5 million purchase at the OBS April sale, and won on debut at Del Mar in September. He went on to lead all the way in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, and has now won all three of his career starts for earnings of $1,262,000.

Comments From Other Connections

Trainer Mark Casse (second with Pappacap) – “You know what – he’s a good horse and he’s getting better. Now we have to figure out how to get him to the Kentucky Derby. He’ll love the mile and a quarter.”

Jockey Joe Bravo (second with Pappacap) – “I’m just so proud of my big colt. He did everything great today. Mike (Smith) had everything his own way around there and I was just trying to stay on his tail and keep up.”

Trainer Dale Romans (third with Giant Game) – “I think it’s going to be a fun spring. I was real happy with him. Around the turn, I thought we were going to get it all. Congratulations to the winner. It was a big race by him. It’s hard to beat Bob (Baffert) on his home court. I’m very proud of my horse and I think we are legitimately on the Derby trail here.”

Jockey Joe Talamo (third with Giant Game) – “I had a lot of horse coming around the turn. He put me in a really great spot. He has a very bright future, this being only his third career start.”

The post Corniche Goes All The Way In Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; No Derby Points Awarded To Baffert Trainee appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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