LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Trainer Al Stall has long known he trains one of the top handicap horses in America in Blame. And after Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, he can feel with confidence that he also has one of the nation's top juveniles, too, in J. B.'s Thunder.
Making just the second start of his career, J. B.'s Thunder made short work of the Breeders' Futurity field, taking command from the start and quickening away from the opposition to score a four-length victory over Santiva.
The winner, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.12, paying $13.60.
Although the winner's Breeders' Futurity victory, which followed a maiden score on the grass at Saratoga, stamped him as an elite 2-year-old and provided him with an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, his participation in that race is "very much 50-50 at best," Stall said.
Stall said before the race that he and owner Andrea Pollack of Columbine Stable would prefer to concentrate on developing him into a top 3-year-old.
More likely than the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is a start in either the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov. 20 or the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 22, Stall said.
Coincidentally, Breeders' Futurity runner-up Santiva, a maiden, also had run second behind J. B.'s Thunder when each last raced on turf in a maiden race at Saratoga on Aug. 21.
A slow start hindered his chances Saturday, but jockey Javier Castellano was pleased with Santiva's effort.
"He finished very, very strong," he said.
Santiva edged second-time starter Willcox Inn by a nose for the place position, and they were followed across the finish by Typhoon Slew, Major Gain, Rough Sailing, Silver Medallion, Maybesomaybenot, Lou Brissie, Conservative Value, and Brickyard Fast.