Corniche © Eclipse Sportswire / Breeders' Cup
Speedway Stables’ Corniche ($4.80) grabbed the lead out of the gate from the outside post 11 and never trailed another horse as he held off Pappacap by 1 ¾ lengths to win the 38th running of the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance for 2-year-olds Friday afternoon at Del Mar.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, Corniche covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.50.
The victory is the fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for Baffert and 18th overall while for Smith, the all-time winningest rider in World Championships history, it is his 27th victory and third in the Juvenile.
Corniche quickly established the lead the first time past the finish line and maintained a daylight advantage the rest of the way without being threatened.
Now a two-time Grade 1 winner and undefeated in three starts, Corniche added $1,040,000 to his bankroll that swelled to $1,262,000.
Corniche is a Kentucky-bred son of Quality Road out of the Najran mare Wasted Tears.
Winning trainer Bob Baffert (Corniche) – “I knew from the (11)-hole that he was going to have to use him harder than he’d like to. Mike (Smith) is a great rider. I love him on a horse like that. You never know how good they are until you put them in a situation like that. He just kicked back in and held those horses off. It’s so hard to win these races, especially when you have a favorite and you win. It’s exciting. These young horses are what our whole program is about. It’s a great win for the owners. I have tremendous clients.”
Winning jockey Mike Smith (Corniche) – “The only thing I was worried about was that he got hotter (before the race) than he ever had. 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.”
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.”
FRACTIONS: :23.03 :46.15 1:10.81 1:36.27 1:42.50