Note: Fuller recap of the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity, which will be limited to a few graphs in Sunday’s paper
Mike Maker, trainer of 2011 2-year-old champion Hansen, has another promising juvenile on his hands after his charge Joha wired the field to take the Grade I, $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland by one length.
Joha was cross-entered in Sunday’s Grade III Bourbon Stakes but justified Maker’s decision to go for the bigger prize when he cut fractions of :23.90 and :48.41 during the 1 1/16-miles test before drawing off for his third career win in six outings.
A Kentucky-bred son of Johar out of the Mujadil mare Mujado (IRE), Joha completed the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:44.52.
“He was doing so well that we decided to take the bigger chance,” Maker said of the decision to go in the Breeders’ Futurity. “We had a lot of confidence in him so we took a chance in a Grade I.”
Joha took the lead out of the gate and remained relaxed in the early going while being pressed by Tizracer. Nearing the top of the stretch, Pataky Kid moved first at Joha, who repulsed that bid and then had enough to hold off Dynamic Sky and Luis Contreras.
Maker did say that the plan is to move onto the Breeders’ Cup with Joha but will have to decide if the colt goes in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf or tries dirt for the first time in the Juvenile. Maker does have some recent history to draw upon as Hansen won his first two starts over the Polytrack at Turfway Park before winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his dirt debut at Churchill last November.
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t handle the dirt,” Maker said of Joha.