LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The two Breeders' Cup races for 2-year-olds are not end-alls or be-alls. The recognition is not as great as in the other championship races, the accomplishment not as meaningful.
But simply because they're part of the seven-race, $10 million Breeders' Cup to be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday, the prestige of the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies cannot be disparaged -- nor can the winners' shares of $572,000, nor the winners' residual values as breeding prospects.
Most winners of both have been disappointing later in their careers. So when it became apparent yesterday morning that Easy Now, who would have combined as a strong entry with Preach in the Fillies, was not going to draw in off an alternates list, trainer Shug McGaughey was calm and philosophical.
"There'll be more races for her," he said.
McGaughey, the trainer of three Breeders' Cup winners, knows that unlike the Classic or Turf -- races in which victory represents a career pinnacle -- there is more to life for a 2-year-old than the Breeders' Cup. With so much racing still ahead, there is more to prove and accomplish in their later years.
The Juvenile has hardly been a preview of the Kentucky Derby, where only one of the seven winners has finished as high as third. Winners of the Fillies have fared somewhat better. Open Mind and Go for Wand were both champions as 3-year-olds, and Meadow Star, last year's winner, was having a productive 1991 before she tapered off this summer.
European horses, more accustomed to turf racing and usually lesser-raced at 2, have never won either 2-year-old race. But this year, Arazi, a winner of his past six starts, could be a slight favorite in the Juvenile.
"He's a good horse," said trainer Jerry Fanning, who has Star Recruit and Bag in the race. "But you don't know might what happen when he starts getting dirt in his face. That might be a different story."
The best horse in Fanning's career has been Desert Wine, second in the 1983 Derby and Preakness. Fanning, from California, said Star Recruit "is a solid little horse. He's gotten better all the time." Laffit Pincay, who has ridden three Juvenile winners, will ride the colt for the first time.
Star Recruit will race uncoupled in the wagering with Bag, a colt who earned high speed figures when winning his second career start. Bag won his next start, then finished third behind Bertrando at Santa Anita. Bertrando, a front-runner, enters the race undefeated in three starts and could challenge Arazi for favoritism.
Bag will get blinkers for the first time, Fanning said, because "he's been jumping things and acting immature. He may not be as steady as Star Recruit, but Bag's got a lot of ability."
Bertrando is scheduled to work tomorrow, and so far, said trainer Bruce Headley, the colt appears to like the Churchill Downs surface. "He's happy out there," he said. "He's quiet, and he wants to go."
Three Europeans will be entered in the Fillies, including Ken de Saron, winner of the Selima Stakes on the Laurel Race Course turf on Oct. 19. But Preach, from New York, and several Californians seem to have the edge. Pleasant Stage, Soviet Sojourn and La Spia finished 1-2-3 in the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in their most recent starts, and the race could prove to be a key one.
Soviet Sojourn "has the heart of a prizefighter," said trainer Bob Baffert. "She's a very quiet filly with a super mind. She puts everything into it every time."
Entries for all seven races will be taken today. Randy Winick, trainer of La Spia, said the draw for post positions in the crowded fields is "just about the most nervous part of this whole thing."
Preach, 2-for-3 lifetime, will be ridden by Julie Krone, who will attempt to become the first female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race. Krone, fourth with Forty Niner in 1988, has the best previous finish.
NOTES: Tight Spot, 5-for-5 this year and a winner of 8 straight, owns the longest current winning streak of the expected 94 starters. The colt will be the 8-5 program favorite in the Mile, said track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. . . . Spinning Round, a Fillies long shot, is owned by the Kinsman Stud of George Steinbrenner. . . . Trainer Bruce Jackson said his decision whether to enter In Excess in the Mile or Classic was "going to the last minute -- 9:59 on Wednesday morning." . . . Summer Squall, Marquetry, Fly So Free, Twilight Agenda and Chief Honcho had final works for the Classic yesterday. . . . Many of the European horses are expected out of quarantine this morning and to the track for training. . . . Jolie's Halo, the only Maryland-based representative, was due to arrive at Churchill late last night after working 6 furlongs in 1:12 on the Laurel turf yesterday. . . . Kent Desormeaux, the former Maryland star, has no Breeders' Cup mounts. . . . Advance wagering on the national Pick-7 is scheduled to be available at Laurel/Pimlico beginning tomorrow.
How winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile fared in Kentucky Derby the next year:
Year.. .. Horse.. .. .. .. Finish
1984.. .. Chief's Crown .. 3rd
1985.. .. Tasso.. .. .. .. DNR
1986.. .. Capote. .. .. .. 16th
1987.. .. Success Express. DNR
1988.. .. Is It True .. .. DNR
1989.. .. Rhythm. .. .. .. DNR
1990.. .. Fly So Free.. .. 5th
Longest winning streaks for 1991 Breeders' Cup starters:
Horse.. .. .. .. .. Prob.. .. .. .. Streak
. .. .. .. .. .. .. race.. .. .. ..
Tight Spot .. .. .. Mile.. .. .. .. 8
Dance Smartly .. .. Distaff.. .. .. 7
Arazi.. .. .. .. .. Juvenile. .. .. 6
Sky Classic.. .. .. Turf.. .. .. .. 6
Black Tie Affair .. Classic.. .. .. 5
Queena. .. .. .. .. Distaff.. .. .. 5
In Excess. .. .. .. Classic.. .. .. 4
Bertrando. .. .. .. Juvenile. .. .. 3
Culture Vulture. .. Fillies.. .. .. 3
Housebuster.. .. .. Sprint .. .. .. 3
Star of Cozzene. .. Mile.. .. .. .. 3
Wilderness Song. .. Distaff.. .. .. 3