Future Stars Friday at the Breeders' Cup featured upsets, big runs, and a little of the bizarre. But the best of a big day was a brilliant run by one of the favorites.
Coming into the Juvenile race, Corniche had a few things causing question marks. Could he overcome the far outside post in a 12 horse field? Were just two starts enough to have him ready for this type of competition? Could trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith once again work their magic?
Things were answered rather quickly in this, the ninth race of the day. Hustling this son of Quality Road out of the gate, Smith made the lead early and got near the rail to save ground. Clipping off nice early fractions (23.03 opening quarter-mile, 46.15 half-mile), Corniche comfortably moved down the backside in front. Guiding his charge with the excellence that has netted him more Breeders' Cup wins than any other rider, Smith deftly handled his young horse into the far turn. Straightening for home, Baffert's boy smartly headed for the wire. Maintaining the lead as a charging Pappacap and Giant Game closed, Corniche won by a length and three quarters. Covering the mile and a sixteenth distance over the Del Mar dirt in 1:42.50, this son of dam Wasted Tears was nothing short of brilliant.
In the end, the brightest star on Future Friday was a youngster with all the answers. Of course, having tutors like Baffert (18 Breeders' Cup wins 2nd all-time) and Smith (27 wins all-time leader) can help raise the IQ, but it seems Corniche was born with a certain brilliance.