March 30, 2023

Quip, Tenfold highlight Lukas Classic; competitive fields set for Ack Ack, Jefferson Cup

Quip notched his second career graded stakes victory when capturing the Oaklawn H. (G2) on April 13, 2019 (c) Coady Photo

Oaklawn H. (G2) winner Quip and Pimlico Special (G3) Tenfold are among 10 horses entered for the $250,000 Lukas Classic (G3), one of three stakes on Saturday’s 11-race Downs After Dark program at Churchill Downs. With clear skies predicted, first post is 6 p.m. (ET) and the Lukas Classic, which honors Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas, is scheduled for 10:11 p.m.

Quip will try to rebound in the 1 1/8-mile race after weakening to ninth as the 3-1 second choice in the August 17 Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. A maiden scorer under the Twin Spires, the four-year-old colt ran big in the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs two starts back, registering a career-best 104 BRIS Speed rating for a neck second, and Florent Geroux retains the assignment on the Rudolphe Brisset trainee.

Tenfold will try to make an impact in the stretch after rallying belatedly for fourth in the Pacific Classic. Unplaced in the Stephen Foster, the Grade 2-winning colt turned in the best performance of his four-year-old season when closing boldly to capture the Pimlico Special three starts ago in May. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call for Steve Asmussen.

Silver Dust and Kukulkan, the respective one-two finishers in the West Virginia Governor’s (G3) at Mountaineer last month, merit respect and have both won over the track. Pioneer Spirit exits a stakes tally in the Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand and stakes-placed Blueridge Traveler wheels back 15 days later after posting an allowance/optional claiming score on the opening-day program at Churchill Downs.

The stakes action kicks off with the $150,000 Ack Ack (G3) at a one-turn mile. Air Strike won the Triple Bend (G2) this spring at Santa Anita and should appreciate the class relief after a pair of fourths against Grade 1 foes in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar and Forego at Saratoga., Geroux, who was up for a couple of starts last fall, retakes the mount aboard the four-year-old colt for Phil D’Amato.

Nine are entered including stakes winner C Z Rocket, a solid third behind the impressive Recruiting Ready earlier in the September meet; multiple graded-placed Thirstforlife, a four-time winner at Churchill Downs; in-form speedball Mr. Jagermeister, a sharp wire-to-wire winner of his last two starts at Canterbury Park and Colonial Downs; and hard-hitting Mr Darcy, second to Recruiting Ready last time.

Eight three-year-olds will contest the $125,000 Jefferson Cup at 1 1/8 miles on turf and Tracksmith will attract support following a fourth in the August 31 Virginia Derby (G3) at Colonial Downs. A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Tracksmith earned his first stakes triumph when taking the grassy Frisk Me Now at Monmouth Park two back and the Joe Sharp-trained colt posted a nice allowance win on the Churchill Downs turf in late June.  Adam Beschizza rides.

Spectacular Gem and Corruze, one-two in the September 4 Caesars at Indiana Grand, are contenders and Grade 3 winner Faraway Kitten is eligible to rebound after a seventh in the Caesars.