April 23, 2024

Risk It heads eight in Kentucky Jockey Club

Risk It stylishly breaks his maiden (Coglianese Photography)

Iroquois (G3) runner-up Risk It is the one to beat in Saturday’s $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. An impressive debut winner, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt will face seven rivals in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier.

Along with the Golden Rod (G2) for fillies, the Kentucky Jockey Club highlights the Stars of Tomorrow II program, 12 races dedicated exclusively to two-year-olds. The 1 1/16-mile event awards points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale to the top five finishers toward a berth in the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Risk It, a $500,000 yearling purchase by Gun Runner, registered a field-best 91 Brisnet Speed rating when romping by 4 1/2 lengths the first time out at Saratoga in mid-August. He will look to improve upon last time, racing up close to a hot pace before winding up second in the one-mile Iroquois, and Risk It is bred to appreciate his first two-turn attempt. Tyler Gaffalione rides the chestnut.

Stretch Ride streaks into his stakes bow unbeaten from two starts, crushing entry-level allowance rivals on the front end when stretching out to two turns at Churchill last month. Martin Chuan retains the assignment on the Dale Romans-trained son of Street Sense.

Dancing Groom, based at Gulfstream with Antonio Sano, merits respect off a third in the Champagne (G1) at Aqueduct. Javier Castellano has the call. Sharp debut winner Awesome Road will seek to improve upon a seventh in his first stakes attempt, the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, and Flavien Prat guides for Brad Cox.

A couple of races earlier, Booth will make his anticipated stakes debut in the $225,000 Ed Brown at 6 1/2 furlongs. The Asmussen pupil turned heads when opening his racing career with a gate-to-wire romp, generating a 98 Speed rating, and Booth will stick with sprinting for now in the 6 1/2-furlong Brown. Ricardo Santana Jr. will be up on the promising colt from the first crop of Mitole, and Booth will break from the far outside among nine runners.

Divieto invades off a win in the Oct. 1 Adventura S. at Gulfstream, and Gaffalione picks up the mount for Sano. Stakes runner-up Normandy Hero and last-out maiden scorers Agoo, Bye Bye Liam, and Gabaar are also part of the mix.