A collaborative effort by Nicolle Neulist, Keeler Johnson, James Scully, Vance Hanson. and John Mucciolo.
The 16th annual Stars of Tomorrow II at Churchill Downs begins on Saturday, November 28 features a day full of juvenile racing where two-year-olds take center stage. Our experts weigh in with concise descriptions on each contender in each race!
The cornerstone of Saturday’s races are the Golden Rod Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Please click on a race in the list below to jump to the field of runners accompanied by their brief synopsis from our experts.
Churchill Downs – Race 1
Maiden Special Weight, 2yo fillies, 1 mile, dirt
#1 SANTA RITA (10-1) ran on for second on debut, in a sloppy off-turf sprint. Both sides of her pedigree suggest the extra distance should suit her: she is by stamina influence Curlin out of Anabaa’s Creation, a mare whose wins all came at a mile or longer. Trainer Steve Asmussen shines with second-time starters, including two-year-olds, and is having a strong start to the Churchill meet. The biggest question will be trip, since she is mired on the rail in a full field.
#2 CHANDELIER ISLAND (15-1) debuts for Victoria Oliver, who does not typically have her runners primed to win on debut. There are good things here: rider Rocco Bowen has done well in his handful of Churchill starts so far, and both sides of Chandelier Island’s pedigree suggest a mile or a middle distance will suit her nicely, being a Street Sense half to two-turn stakes winners Cara Maire and Abby’s Angel. But, with no first-out winners from the mare, it makes sense to watch.
#3 CUZZYWUZZY (10-1) makes her sixth start. She has tried a range of distances and running styles, and has never finished out of the superfecta, but has yet to really look like a winner. To her credit, she is trying the one-turn mile for the first time, and trying something new can shake up these types. And, both trainer Eddie Kenneally and rider Tyler Gaffalione have started this Churchill fall meet blazing hot. But, she needs to find that finishing kick, and the speed figures suggest turf is her better footing.
#4 POINT WILD (10-1) debuts for trainer Ken McPeek, a 7% winner with first-time starters but far more successful with second-time starters. There is a bit of precocity in the pedigree; Point of Entry is a solid 13% with juvenile first-timers and both of her half-siblings hit the board on debut. Though, dirt is an interesting choice given Point Wild’s pedigree: she is by Point of Entry out of a mare whose two other starters have been primarily turf horses.
#5 TABOR HALL (9-2) is the likely shorter-priced of the Ken McPeek pair. She has raced three times so far, with her best outing to date being a one-turn mile at Churchill on November 14, where she chased in range throughout but finished a no-threat fifth. That race came back fast enough to suggest she can be a contender, and a mile suits her pedigree nicely. Though, she does need to find that winning kick and it’s a concern that Robby Albarado is running 0-for the meet.
#6 LEN LO LADY (9-2) has run four times so far for trainer Dale Romans. She has been well beaten in three of those four starts, though her two-back effort where she stalked the pace and finished a close third at Keeneland was a sign that some talent lurks. Her best hope is that none of the first-timers show a ton of early speed, and she can get a spot pretty close to the likes of Saranya and Caught Looking.
#7 AWESOME TREAT (50-1) debuts for trainer Niall Collum, whose barn only makes its second start of the year here, and its first since March at Turfway. His only two first-time starters both finished far off the board at long odds. In terms of pedigree, sire Awesome Patriot wins at 8% with juvenile first-timers, and the mile suits his progeny; dam Tiz a Treat’s only other starter, Awesome Treat’s full brother Gryffindor, likes dirt miles but came up flat in all three starts at two.
#8 GOLDIE’S DELIGHT (20-1) settled toward the rear in her dirt sprint debut and never fired, though that isn’t much of a concern since trainer Rusty Arnold doesn’t typically point to win first out. He can win at a price with a second-time starter, making Goldie’s Delight worth a look in the paddock. The step up to a mile should fit nicely as well; she is by Super Saver, and her second dam is a full sister to Met Mile winner Corinthian.
#9 SOVEREIGN POWER (8-1) moved forward third-out, stalking the pace and keeping on for a good third in a turf mile maiden special at Churchill on November 12. The Mike Maker trainee now adds blinkers and tries dirt for the first time. It’s a curious move since she showed such improvement on turf last time, but she is by Wicked Strong out of a mare who has some winning half-siblings on dirt, and Mike Maker’s 20% turf-to-dirt percentage suggests this may be a time to trust his instinct.
#10 SARANYA (5/2) has been second in both of her races, a turf debut and an off-turf race on October 30. Now she faces real dirt horses for the first time, and cuts back to a flat mile distance that suits her breeding nicely. The connections are as sharp as any, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux. Being drawn inside of Caught Looking, Saranya may benefit from the ability she showed on debut to pass horses, since she may not outjump that stretch-out sprinter.
#11 CAUGHT LOOKING (15-1) sped to the lead in her debut, a seven-furlong sprint at Keeneland on October 17, before backing up starkly. Being trained by Rusty Arnold, she probably wasn’t pointed specifically to win first-out, and Arnold can shine at a price with second-time starters. On pedigree, the stretch out to a mile should suit nicely; she is by Super Saver out of a Tiznow half-sister to Speightstown and Irap. She must improve but barring a crackling fast first-timer she shapes as speed of the speed.
#12 SILK AND SUGAR (8-1) has hit the board in both her races so far, rallying from toward the rear to claim a share. Trainer Ian Wilkes doesn’t typically rush his runners on, so there is still some upside third-time out. And, the stretch out to this dirt mile trip should suit: she is by Cairo Prince out of a Candy Ride mare from a nice sprinter-miler family featuring Zealous Connection, Here’s Zealous, and Bradester.
#13 PRINCESS D’ORO (10-1) needs one scratch to draw in. She debuted in an off-turf race over the Indiana Grand slop, proving no match for the winner into the lane and getting outfinished for the place. Trainer Bernie Flint shines with second-time starters, particularly with two-year-olds, giving reason to think Princess d’Oro can move forward. She will need to improve, though, in a deeper field of horses intended for dirt.
#14 WILL’S SECRET (3-1) needs two scratches to draw in. She made a clear step forward on October 25 in a mile and a sixteenth race at Churchill, chasing on for third behind promising blueblood Clairiere. Her tactical speed will be an asset if she draws into this field, given how wide she will be drawn. The biggest question is the cutback in trip; being by Will Take Charge out of a two-turn dirt mare by Giant’s Causeway, the mile and a sixteenth of her last two races may prove better.
#15 HOLD THE FORT (12-1) needs three scratches to draw in. He debuts for trainer Michael Puhich, a solid 17% with first-time starters, a rate representative of both his juveniles and older maidens. Her dam won on debut in a turf route, though that debut came at age three; her only other starter was off the board on debut at age two, and sire Will Take Charge is a modest 8% with juvenile first-time starters.
Churchill Downs – Race 2
Maiden Special Weight, 2yo fillies, 1 1/16 miles, dirt
#1 GINKGO (10-1) was no match for the top two on debut in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on November 8. Still, running in the money on debut is par for the course for this family; her dam Enth won on debut at two, sprinting on dirt, and five of her seven starters have hit the board on debut. The step up from one turn to two is a question; sire Runhappy was a sprinter and he still seeks his first route-distance winner, and Enth’s progeny have preferred one turn as well. Though, the trainer statistics are positive, as trainer Ken McPeek’s horses tend to move forward second-out, and his strong sprint-to-route percentage suggests he knows when to stretch horses out.
#2 FAIR GAME (20-1) kept on from last to split an eleven-horse field at 102-1 odds on debut October 31, in a six-furlong maiden special at Churchill. Trainer Victoria Oliver tends to need more than even the second start to get her horses in the winners’ circle, though the ones who do win pay well enough to make it a positive-ROI angle. The stretch out to two turns may help as well; she is by Honor Code out of a Smart Strike mare who won going as long as a mile and seven sixteenths, though only two of her five starters are winners and her longest progeny win so far came at a flat mile.
#3 TAKE CHARGE LORIN (20-1) debuts for Dallas Stewart, who occasionally wins at a price with two-year-old first-timers but for the most part does not have them in winning form first-out, and those odd debut two-year-old winners tend to come at one turn. She is a blueblood, by Tapit out of Take Charge Tressa, who is a War Front half to champion juvenile filly Take Charge Brandi. So, at least she has pedigree both for two-turn form and two-year-old form.
#4 FAMILY TIME (12-1) has five starts underneath her. Her best outing yet came on November 12, when she switched to the lawn. Perhaps she is just getting better, and trainer Dale Romans is getting a strong start to this Churchill fall meet. But, with four unimpressive dirt starts already, including one at two turns? It makes more sense to wait until Family Time can get back on the grass.
#5 DOTTIE (12-1) was eased on debut going the one-turn mile at Churchill, but it was fairly encouraging that she returned the next month, stayed in maiden special weight company, and chased on well enough to finish fourth of eleven. The stretch to a mile and a sixteenth may bring about further improvement; sire Bernardini is a great influence going long on dirt, and though dam Sweet Swingin was mostly a sprinter, there is enough middle-distance form in the family to make stretching out worth a shot. It’s also good to see Tyler Gaffalione back aboard, given how hot he has started Churchill.
#6 BEST CAUSE (10-1) is another Ken McPeek second-time starter, and better drawn than her stablemate mired on the rail. As mentioned with Gingko, McPeek is strong with second-time starters and with sprint-to-route stretchouts. The rider upgrade to Corey Lanerie may help, as could a better start than she got in her debut last month. And, being by Creative Cause from a two-turn family (her second dam is Amazing Buy, and Alpha Bettor is in her extended family), the step up to this trip should move Best Cause up nicely.
#7 SYLVIA Q (4-1) set the pace on debut before getting caught and outfinished in the final furlong, though she kept trying well enough to suggest she not only has talent but grit. She may have to show she has a rating gear, though, with some pace drawn outside her. Trainer Philip Bauer can win at a price with second-time starters. The big question for Sylvia Q is the surface change; being by Violence out of a Unbridled’s Song half to Happy Ticket, though, she has every right to love dirt.
#8 WILLFUL WOMAN (6-1) chased on for third on debut in a seven-furlong race at Keeneland. Trainer Steve Asmussen is sharp with second-time starters, and she keeps his “A” rider Ricardo Santana in the irons from that effort. The pedigree also gives her plenty of upside: Nyquist foals have been good first-out but even better at second asking, they have taken well to routes, and she is half to two-turn horses like Ever So Clever and Tathqeef.
#9 GRACE’S SECRET (12-1) came up empty last out in a one-mile race, though looked much better two starts back when she set the pace in a seven-furlong maiden special at Churchill and held a clear second. With a debut that was good enough to suggest she might not need the lead, that last-out flop was a little baffling. She is fast enough to be part of the early pace if she comes away well, though will need a step up. Pedigree gives mixed signals for the stretch to a route; sire Cairo Prince certainly supports it, though the female family is more sprinter/miler.
#10 PEACE BROKER (3-1) has hit the board in both of her starts so far, both extended one-turn maiden special weights. Her last start was encouraging; not only did she improve, but the tactical speed she showed was sharp enough to suggest she can get a nice outside tracking trip against a group like this. She hails from the barn of Bret Calhoun, who is having an excellent Churchill meet so far. And, the pedigree suggests the step up to a mile and a sixteenth is worth trying: she is a War Front half-sister to Donna Veloce.
#11 ILLIOGAMI (8-1) switches to dirt after making her first two starts in turf miles. She ran well in both, tracking in touch but finding herself outfinished to the wire. The fact that she went off favored on debut is curious; her trainer, Rusty Arnold, doesn’t typically win on debut. Being by Tapit out of Odeliz, a mare who won going up to a mile and five sixteenths, Illiogami should have no trouble with the extra sixteenth of a mile. Though, her pedigree to handle dirt would come from the sireline, since her female family has focused on grass.
#12 JAIL HOUSE CODE (8-1) makes her fourth start. She is one of the few who has tried this distance before; last out, she tracked the pace before flattening out to fifth late. To her credit, the race came back fast enough to suggest she should be competitive in this race. Though, the far-outside gate will not make it easy for her, and though trainer Paul McGee is starting the Churchill meet well, two-year-olds are not his forte.
#13 SHE’S SO CALI (20-1) needs one scratch to draw in. She ahs been off the board in all three starts, with all came at one turn. The stretch out to two turns will be a first for her; being by California Chrome out of a proven route producer, the step up in trip might bring out the best in her. Though, she has to improve a lot from her three previous starts, and trainer Michael Lauer has struggled at Churchill this meet.
#14 SOLEMN OATH (12-1) needs two scratches to draw in. She is one of the experienced old hands in this race, with five starts already. She has hit the board in three of them, including her last two, though those last two races have been $30,000 claimers. Even with a good effort over course and distance last out, and with a pedigree to suit this distance being her best game, it will be tough to find that improvement from a tough gate against better foes. And, with five starts already, her upside is limited.
Churchill Downs – Race 3
Allowance Optional Claiming, 2yo, 1 1/16 miles, dirt
#1 ALL BODES WELL (15-1) is a maiden facing winners. He draws a smaller field than he would in any of the maiden races, which may have been the goal in picking this spot. The stretch out in trip may get him closer to the pace, as might a better start. The pedigree should stretch out, too: he is by Bodemeister out of a mare who was a multiple stakes winner going as long as a mile and an eighth, and All Bodes Well’s full brother Betts broke his maiden at a mile and a half on dirt. But, the winners may prove too tough.
#2 LOOKIN AT JUSTICE (10-1) stretched out to two turns for the first time last time in the Indiana Futurity, and won with confidence. However, his race three back in another Indiana-bred stakes suggests he doesn’t have to make the top, as he was well back early before running on for second. However, he has yet to find his better form when running against open allowance foes at Indiana Grand, and the top end of this field is deeper yet.
#3 COUSIN LARRY (6-1) won at second asking, and stretches out to a route for the first time. A Cairo Prince half to Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell, he should handle the extra distance well. He has also proven he can pass horses, so he is tactical enough to get a good trip. And, trainer Larry Jones shines with his last-out maiden winners. He is an interesting price play for anyone not sold on Scarred or Hidden Stash.
#4 HIDDEN STASH (5-2) needed three starts to break his maiden, but woke up nicely when stretching out to two turns for the first time. He keeps Rafael Bejarano in the irons from that win. That happened on good dirt, so he needs to prove he is as good on dry dirt. However, his pedigree suggests that the stretch out had something to do with it, as he is by Constitution out of a Smart Strike mare from a two-turn family.
#5 MEISTER (5-1) broke his maiden on debut at Ellis. Since then, he has hit the board in allowance company going two turns, though has yet to look a winner against winners. The top end of this field is even tougher than the ones he has been running against; though he still looks to be on the improve judging from speed figures, he still makes more sense for the exotics than the win end.
#6 SCARRED (2-1) impressed enough in his maiden win at Churchill to get a spot on the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, and has enough pedigree on both sides to get at least the mile and a sixteenth. The Steve Asmussen trainee attended the pace before taking over in the lane in a seven-furlong maiden race November 5, and drew well to get a similar kind of trip (if not an outright leading one) on the stretch out. The price won’t be much but he looms the one to beat.
#7 LANGUAGE BARRIER (15-1) added blinkers last out and broke his maiden on the front end over course and distance on November 5. However, he needed a drop to a $15,000 maiden claiming race to do it. He probably will not make the front with Scarred in the field, so in addition to having to prove his class, he also must prove that he can either go faster early or show that he can rate and rally.
#8 CAMP HOPE (5-1) took an ambitious jump from a maiden win to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Though he never got involved in the Breeders’ Cup, he looked nice on debut over this course and distance, tracking off the pace and romping clear. He needs a step forward from that maiden win, but with a good chance for a clean outside trip and the return to Brian Hernandez in the saddle, he could get a share.
Churchill Downs – Race 4
Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, 1 1/16 miles, dirt
#1 SAMURAI SAINT (15-1) drew the rail, a tough place to start in a full field. At least he has one race of experience, though with a slow start that day, one has to wonder how much he’ll improve at the break from such a tough post. Trainer Ron Moquett also tends to need more than two starts for his two-year-olds to find their stride. Though, he is well bred with possibility to handle the step up in trip; he is by First Samurai out of Worshipper, an Awesome Again half to Pulpit.
#2 DOLDER GRAND (7-2) held his own in Grade 1 company last out, finishing third in the Summer (G1) at Woodbine on September 20. He is trained by Mark Casse, who has tried this move before: War of Will started on the grass, hit the board in the Summer, and then broke his maiden in a dirt race on Stars of Tomorrow 2 day. Dirt should suit Dolder Grand well; he is a Candy Ride half to Oceanwave and Battalion Runner. If he holds his turf form on dirt, he shapes as a major contender.
#3 BURROW (9-2) set the pace in an off-turf race going this same distance at Keeneland; he got caught in the lane but still finished a very clear second. It would be no surprise if he sets the pace again, barring some blazing fast first-timer. Trainer Brad Cox is spectacular with second-start maidens, particularly two-year-olds. His winning second-start maidens tend to take money, however, so make sure he is not cold on the board. It’s also worth noting that Cox’s usual rider, Florent Geroux, is on stablemate Cheffy.
#4 BUGLE OF WAR (10-1) debuts for trainer Eddie Kenneally. Kenneally is having a red-hot start to the Churchill meet. Drilling into his two-year-old first-time starters, though? He does well with them, though debuting them at two turns on dirt is a move he rarely makes. There is plenty of precocity in her pedigree, being by War Front out of a mare who won and was Group 3 placed at two, but it also leans more toward dirt, making it worth wondering whether he only debuts in this spot because the turf is out of commission.
#5 BOLDISH (20-1) makes his first career start. Trainer Joe Sharp can show some form with first-time starters, though not typically when they go two turns: you have to go back to 2018 to find a juvenile first-timer of his who ran in the money on debut, and back to 2015 to find a winner. It would be no surprise if a middle distance on dirt suits Boldish eventually, as he is by Dialed In out of an Aikenite daughter of Weekend in Seattle (a stakes-placed full sister to A. P. Indy). But, watch him this time.
#6 GALILEE (8-1) debuts for Larry Jones, a solid trainer of first-time starters whether going short or long. Galilee is not only well bred, being a half to Cupid, but also nicely bred to do well early: sire Pioneerof the Nile is a 13% debut two-year-old sire, and dam Pretty ‘n Smart (herself a debut winner, early in her three-year-old year) has two debut winners and three others in the money on debut.
#7 CHEFFY (6-1) is the longer priced of the Brad Cox pair on the morning line, though the presence of Florent Geroux suggests he may be the better-intended one from the barn. On debut for previous trainer Don Chatlos, he made up good ground late, finishing fourth behind a three-way win photo. Cox shines with new arrivals to his barn. And, the stretch out to a route ought to help Cheffy: he is by Quality Road from the family of the surface-versatile router Proceed Bee and classy turf router Duty Dance.
#8 HOLY REDEEMER (2-1) has finished a close second in both of his starts so far. They both came at extended one-turn trips on dirt, including last out at Churchill. He was prominent enough in those sprint races to suggests he should be near the pace over this longer trip. Trainer Stanley Hough excels with horses stretching out to a route for the first time, whether they are two-year-olds or older horses. Since Holy Redeemer is by Blame out of a Scat Daddy half to Social Inclusion, the pedigree makes sense for the step up in trip as well.
#9 WARRIOR IN CHIEF (15-1) stretches out to a route for the first time. Though Kantharos on top tends more toward sprinting, it isn’t completely out of the ordinary to have a router who can run, and his female family leans toward two turns on the dirt. Trainer Ken McPeek has a positive ROI with his horses stretching from sprint to route, meaning they can do well at a price, but it’s a concern that jockey Robby Albarado is still running winless on the meet.
#10 MAJESTIC SUMMER (20-1) kept on for a solid fourth on debut in a sprint at Kentucky Downs, a good effort given that sprints there can be friendly to frontrunners, though he could not back up that good form in a turf route at Churchill on October 28. That may have been just a question of a bad day, or of needing time to mature: being by Summer Front out of a daughter of Mrs. Revere Stakes winner Silver Comic, who has been a solid turf route producer, Majestic Summer is bred up and down for a turf route. But, both dirt and the clunker last out raise questions.
#11 MASTER OF WAR (15-1) settled at the rear and never fired on debut in a turf mile at Keeneland last month. He is mired in an outside gate again, though it’s a positive that trainer Bill Mott doesn’t always try to win at first asking and does keep him at the maiden special weight level for his return. Though sire Noble Mission was a turf horse, he has seen success in dirt routes (most prominently, but not exclusively, with Code of Honor) and his dam is a dirt horse who went on to produce dirt horses like Instagrand and Aerial Assets.
#12 SHARTLE (15-1) has run twice before, both times at Churchill downs. He made up some mild ground late to finish fifth on debut going seven furlongs, though he pressed a sharp pace before fading last out when trying a route. Perhaps he can try for a clean outside tracking trip yet again in this spot, though he still needs a significant step forward to contend with the top end of this field and both sides of his pedigree suggest he may need some time to grow up.
#13 LOUMO (20-1) needs one scratch to draw in for Dale Romans, who is doing well this meet. The return to dirt is a positive after a surprisingly disappointing try on the grass last time. Uncle Mo out of C. S. Royce is a fantastic turf pedigree on paper, though between Cherry Wine and C. S. Incharge there is enough dirt form out of their dam to think that his first two starts are indicative, and Loumo just wants dirt. However, he will have to carve out a trip from a tricky wide gate if he draws in.
Churchill Downs – Race 5
Maiden Special Weight 2YO Fillies, 6 furlongs
#1 SALINO: Unraced daughter of Vancouver has shown some speed in the mornings at Churchill Downs, clocking a near-bullet half-mile in :47 3/5 on Nov. 5. But trainer Kenny McPeek strikes at just a 7% rate with first-time starters (less than half his 16% success rate with second-time starters), so Salino is unlikely to be cranked for a peak effort on debut.
#2 SISTER ANNIE: Conditioned by high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, Sister Annie debuted in a $150,000 maiden claiming race at Keeneland, where she overcame a bit of traffic to finish third with a 74 Brisnet Speed rating. She’ll need improvement to factor against maiden special weight company, but Cox strikes at a 27% rate with second-time starters, so a step forward isn’t out of the question with hot jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle.
#3 A MERRY PRANKSTER: A half-sister to Swale (G3) winner Strike Power, A Merry Prankster ran too good to lose in her debut at Indiana Grand, dueling for the lead in a 5-furlong turf dash before finishing second in a four-horse photo finish. She has the pedigree to handle switching to turf, but stepping up against tougher company at Churchill Downs is a question mark.
#4 MUCHO MACHO MOMMA: Daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man showed tactical speed in her first two starts on the Kentucky circuit, but weakened on both occasions to finish fourth. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for Mucho Macho Momma, who clocked a bullet half-mile in :47 1/5 on Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs. But with a career-best 82 Brisnet Speed rating, she isn’t a standout against this competitive field.
#5 TWENTYTWENTY HOAX: Dam Auntie Sophie has produced seven winners from seven starters, so Twentytwenty Hoax definitely hails from a winning family. After breezing a bullet 5 furlongs in :58 4/5 at The Thoroughbred Center, it’s clear this gray filly has speed. But trainer Anna Meah has gone 0-for-18 so far with first-time starters, so Twentytwenty Hoax will likely be a longshot in the wagering.
#6 RYAN’S ROCKET: Larry Jones trainee failed to fire in her debut sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, finishing last after racing near the back of the pack throughout. She’s trained forwardly in the interim and has the pedigree to improve with maturity, considering half-brothers Super Steed and Totally Boss won graded stakes events at ages three and four, respectively. But Ryan’s Rocket will need a big turnaround to factor on Saturday.
#7 SOUTHERN GRAYCE: The second Cox trainee, Southern Grayce has put together a solid work tab in preparation for her debut, culminating with 5 furlongs in 1:00 from the Churchill Downs starting gate. The daughter of Liam’s Map sold for $170,000 earlier this year and picks up jockey Fernando De La Cruz, a 24% winner when teaming up with Cox. But Cox is winning at just a 14% clip with first-time starters this season, well below his 27% strike rate with second-time starters. Southern Grayce looks capable of hitting the board on debut, but others might be more likely winners.
#8 SPARKLE OF HOPE: Sold for just $25,000 as a yearling, Sparkle of Hope brings a solid if not overly eye-catching work tab to the equation for trainer Gregory Foley, whose overall 18% win rate dips to 5% with first-time starters. Veteran Churchill Downs rider Corey Lanerie takes the mount, but Sparkle of Hope is another who might need to get a race under her belt before showing her best.
#9 CATALAN: Street Boss sires 14% debut winners and trainer John Ortiz strikes at a 16% rate with first-time starters, stamping Catalan as a filly to watch in first run under colors. She’s shown signs of serious talent in the mornings, most notably blazing a bullet half-mile from the Keeneland starting gate in :46 2/5 on Nov. 1. Dam Tetherball has already foaled one 2-year-old winner, and drawing post 9 sets the stage for Sparkle of Hope to receive a clean trip.
#10 SILVER BANSHEE: A well-bred daughter of Distorted Humor out of an Uncle Mo mare, Silver Banshee arrives at Churchill Downs with a fairly light work tab under her belt. A reasonably quick half-mile from the gate in :48 last Sunday was a step in the right direction, but up-and-coming trainer Chelsey Coady is 0-for-6 so far with first-time starters, suggesting Saturday’s race may be more of a starting point than an end goal for Silver Banshee.
#11 WICKED STREET: We know Wicked Street has at least a little speed, considering the gray daughter of Street Strategy clocked a bullet half-mile in :47 3/5 at Churchill last month. But trainer Randy Morse has gone just 1-for-59 (2%) with first-time starters over the last four years, so Wicked Street is yet another who might benefit from racing experience gained on debut.
#12 CORE VALUES: A son of 2015 champion older male Honor Code, Core Values was produced by the Street Cry mare Sweet Awakening, previously the dam of nine-time graded stakes-winning router Are You Kidding Me. It’s safe to say Core Values is bred to improve with maturity and excel running long, so sprinting as a 2-year-old is unlikely to be the forte of this $230,000 yearling purchase.
#13 FOLD EM: A daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of a mare by three-time leading sire Tapit, Fold Em is a full sister to multiple graded stakes winner Tenfold, who finished third in the 2018 Preakness (G1). A Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred conditioned by hot trainer Steve Asmussen, Fold Em has the pedigree to improve with distance and maturity, so a maximum effort on debut is unlikely to be in the offing. As the first also-eligible, she’ll need one scratch in order to compete.
#14 BELL DAY: The second also-eligible finished three lengths behind Sister Annie when fourth in a $150,000 maiden claiming sprint at Keeneland last month. Trainer Norm Casse has gone 1-for-4 (25%) with maiden claiming runners stepping up into maiden special weight company, so the jump in class isn’t necessarily a concern. The daughter of Speightster has trained forwardly since her debut and will be a logical contender if allowed to start.
#15 ALTERED SHOT: After finishing third in her first two starts sprinting at Churchill Downs, Altered Shot rates as the fastest of the experienced fillies in Saturday’s field, bringing Brisnet Speed ratings of 71 and 76 to the equation. A mid-pack closer sold for just $28,000 as a yearling, the second Gregory Foley trainee is a half-sister to a pair of 2-year-old winners and can vie for victory if she draws in from the also-eligible list.
#16 CLOSET SHOPPER: The final also-eligible is arguably the most well-regarded prospect in the prospective field, having sold for $600,000 as a yearling. A daughter of Tapit out of a Mr. Greeley mare, Closet Shopper brings a promising pedigree to the equation for trainer Ben Colebrook, best known for conditioning the Grade 1-winning juvenile Knicks Go. But since Colebrook strikes at just a 7% rate with first-time starters, Closet Shopper might need a race or two before finding her best stride.
Churchill Downs – Race 6
Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/8 miles
#1 ROYAL TRYST: Sold for $500,000 as a yearling, Royal Trust turned in a deceptively strong effort in his debut dashing 7 furlongs at Churchill Downs, rallying belatedly from a very wide position to finish sixth by just 3 1/4 lengths. Trainer Kenny McPeek strikes at a solid 16% rate with second-time starters (more than double his 7% success rate with debut runners), and as a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of a Pulpit mare, Royal Tryst is bred to thrive racing 1 1/8 miles. He’s a logical candidate to outrun expectations and vie for victory on Saturday.
#1A PARTNER’S HOPE: Royal Tryst’s coupled entrymate is an also-eligible who needs a scratch from the main body of the field in order to compete. In his debut racing a mile at Churchill Downs just 13 days ago, Partner’s Hope was slow to get going, but rallied late from behind a fast pace to finish third with a respectable 80 Brisnet Speed rating. A step forward should be in the offing for his second run, particularly if he gets off to a more alert beginning.
#2 NAKODA: A slow start compromised Nakoda in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden sprint at Keeneland last month, but the son of Hard Spun never really picked up his feet thereafter, finishing seventh by 7 3/4 lengths. A half-brother to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Or, Makoda is eligible to improve while transitioning to the barn of high-percentage trainer Saffie Joseph, who has put the bay colt through a series of encouraging half-mile workouts. A clean break could help Nakoda step forward at a price.
#3 LOAD UP MOE: Sold for just $8,500 during the summer, Load Up Moe has shown slow but steady improvement across his first three starts. A pure late runner, Load Up Moe charged hard to finish third in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs two weeks ago, gaining four lengths down the lane to finish just a length behind the winner. But with a career-best 76 Brisnet Speed rating, Load Up Moe may need another step forward to visit the winner’s circle.
#4 MOUNTAIN KING: Hot trainer Steve Asmussen saddles Mountain King, a stoutly-bred son of Mineshaft out of a Quiet American mare. Owned by Calumet Farm, Mountain King hit the board three times running long at Indiana Grand, putting up an 80 Brisnet Speed rating when charging late to finish second two starts back. But stepping up against tougher company at Churchill Downs will be a tricky task, particularly since Mountain King misfired with a distant fourth-place effort in his most recent run.
#5 BIG POWER RED: A $50,000 auction purchase, Big Power Red has already tried both dirt and turf with limited success, finishing fifth in his debut sprinting over the Keeneland main track before improving to third in a 1 1/16-mile event over the Churchill grass course. The son of Power Broker is bred to run long and might take a step forward in his first start racing two turns on dirt, but from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, he still has form to find against this caliber of competition.
#6 LEBLON: After finishing ninth and third in his first two starts over a wide mix of surfaces and distances, Leblon took a big step forward in his first start racing two turns on dirt. Overlooked at 31-1 in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs, the son of Broken Vow settled in mid-pack before rallying between runners to finish second behind future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) participant Camp Hope. This effort produced a field-best 83 Brisnet Speed rating and a strong 100 Brisnet Late Pace rating, stamping Leblon among the key contenders for Saturday’s race.
#7 WICK: An experienced runner with four starts under his belt, Wick has shown some promising bits of form, most notably when finishing third behind the future Grade 1-placed Midnight Bourbon in a 1-mile maiden race at Ellis Park. But the son of Awesome Again has yet to finish within 5 1/2 lengths of victory, and his modest Brisnet Late Pace ratings suggest he’s unlikely to improve while stretching out around two turns.
#8 PRIVATE NETWORK: A stoutly-bred son of Bernardini out of an unraced Street Cry mare, this Godolphin homebred showed potential in his debut sprinting 7 furlongs at Churchill Downs, rallying from off the pace to finish third with an 80 Brisnet Speed rating. Improvement isn’t out of the question in his second start for trainer Brendan Walsh, whose runners don’t typically produce their A-game on debut. Even a small step forward could land Private Network in the winner’s circle.
#9 SAQEEL: Shadwell Stable homebred finished fourth and fifth in his first two runs at Churchill Downs, coming home 2 3/4 lengths behind Private Network in the latter effort. But whereas Private Network figures to relish stretching out over 1 1/8 miles, Saqeel is a son of classy miler Daaher and seems more likely to excel in one-turn events, making him tough to trust over Saturday’s extended distance.
#10 HOPE AND DIGNITY: A speedy son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents, Hope and Dignity enters off a fourth-place effort racing 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, beaten 7 1/2 lengths after carving out a slow pace. Considering the favorable setup he enjoyed, it’s hard to envision Hope and Dignity turning the tables on stretch-running Leblon, who finished 3 1/2 lengths clear of Hope and Dignity despite a less favorable setup.
#11 SCARLET FUSION: Sold for $800,000 as a yearling, Scarlet Fusion is a son of Curlin out of Scarlet Tango, previously the dam of graded stakes winners Visionaire (G1), Tara’s Tango (G1), Madison’s Luna (G3), and Scarlet Strike (G3). But Scarlet Fusion hasn’t finished within ten lengths of victory in his first two starts, most recently coming home ninth behind Leblon and Hope and Dignity (among others) in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs. Ultra-hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione retains the mount for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, but Scarlet Fusion will need a big turnaround to challenge on Saturday. Perhaps the addition of blinkers will make a difference.
#12 GRAND DESIGN: A pure late runner possessing little in the way of tactical speed, Grand Design failed to challenge in his debut sprinting at Keeneland, but showed mild improvement when finishing fifth (3 1/2 lengths behind Leblon) in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs. Considering the early pace was pedestrian, Grand Design’s belated late rally was better than it appears at first glance. Hot trainer Brad Cox (a 37% winner with horses running long for the second time) will equip Grand Design with blinkers on Saturday, so if the son of Union Rags responds with increased positional speed, a top-four finish could be within reach.
Churchill Downs – Race 7
Allowance Optional Claiming 2YO Fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs
#1 GOOD WITH NUMBERS: After finishing fifth and fourth in her first two starts against quality maiden special weight company, Good With Numbers dropped down for a $150,000 maiden claiming race and promptly blew away her rivals by 6 3/4 lengths. The class drop surely helped, but avoiding a destructive pace duel may have been the real key. With an 87 Brisnet Speed rating in tow, Good With Numbers has the speed to challenge on Saturday for the hot jockey/trainer duo Ricardo Santana and Steve Asmussen.
#2 COREY: Brad Cox trainee won her debut at Indiana Grand before finishing second in a pair of allowance sprints. She ran particularly well in a 6 1/2-furlong dash at Keeneland, taking command in the stretch before settling for second place. But with a career-best 80 Brisnet Speed rating, Corey will need another step forward to challenge the favorites.
#3 INJECT: A dominant debut winner dashing 5 furlongs at Ellis Park, Inject looked like a potential star in the making while putting up an 88 Brisnet Speed rating. But after dueling for the lead through fast splits in the 1-mile Pocahontas (G3), Inject faded to finish 36 lengths behind the winner, after which she could only finish fourth as the favorite (2 1/2 lengths behind Corey) in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance sprint at Keeneland. Trainer Stanley Hough strikes at a 44% rate with runners beaten as the favorite in their previous run, but if Inject is going to factor on Saturday, she’ll need to recapture the flashy brilliance of her debut.
#4 CHARLIE’S PENNY: From a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, Charlie’s Penny is the fastest horse in the field, posting a 96 when dominating a 5-furlong maiden sprint at Arlington Park by seven lengths. A wide trip against tougher company in the 7-furlong Glorious Song S. at Woodbine saw Charlie’s Penny split the field in fourth place. A :47 2/5 half-mile workout on Nov. 20 at Churchill Downs suggests Charlie’s Penny will handle the transition from synthetic to dirt just fine, but the switch is nevertheless a big question mark on her otherwise encouraging record.
#5 DOCS SEVEN: Entered for a $75,000 claiming tag, Docs Seven flashed speed when wiring a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race over the Arlington Park Polytrack, beating next-out winner Flash Town with an 81 Brisnet Speed rating. But a stumble at the start of the 6-furlong Smart Halo S. at Laurel Park saw Docs Seven race sixth at every call, ultimately beaten 14 3/4 lengths in her dirt debut. It’s possible Docs Seven will rebound with a clean break on Saturday, but even a return to her maiden form might be insufficient to land on the board against this caliber of competition.
#6 OVERDRESSED: The most experienced filly in the field with six starts under her belt, Overdressed lost her first four runs before winning a pair of claiming sprints at Keeneland and Churchill Downs. Churchill’s leading trainer Mike Maker has been on fire during the fall meet, winning at a 32% rate, and top jockey Tyler Gaffalione retains the mount. But with a career-best 77 Brisnet Speed rating, Overdressed ranks among the slower horses in Saturday’s field and is available to be claimed for $75,000.
#7 TRAIN TO ARTEMUS: After finishing third in her debut on turf at Kentucky Downs, Train to Artemus thrived in a 5 1/2-furlong off-the-turf maiden dash at Churchill Downs, powering clear to win eased up by 7 3/4 lengths over a sloppy track. Conditioned by ultra-hot trainer Wesley Ward, Train to Artemus has a ton of tactical speed and figures to be prominent from the outset on Saturday. But returning to dry footing—while simultaneously stepping up in class and distance—could make things difficult for this Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred.
#8 LICHITA: Sold for just $1,000 during the winter, Lichita has already finished behind a couple of her Saturday rivals, most recently when securing the runner-up spot behind Overdressed in a $30,000 claiming sprint at Churchill Downs. With a 75 Brisnet Speed rating standing as her best figure, the daughter of capable sprinter Cinco Charlie looks like a longshot to finish on the board.
#9 ASSERTIVE STYLE: A daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist, Assertive Style relished a muddy track in her debut sprinting 5 furlongs at Ellis Park, rallying from mid-pack to score by 1 1/2 lengths. But she subsequently faltered in her sire’s namesake race, breaking slowly and trailing throughout when facing males in the Nyquist S. at Keeneland. Saturday’s sprint is an easier spot, but Assertive Style will need to improve upon her career-best 78 Brisnet Speed rating if she’s going to reach the winner’s circle for high-percentage trainer D. Kelly Ackerman.
Churchill Downs – Race 8
Allowance, 1 Mile
#1 SHE’S FOREVER: Won convincingly a little more than two weeks ago, albeit in her fifth attempt and against $50,000 maiden claimers; performance has improved noticeably since switching to dirt, but class hike to allowance company seemingly a big hurdle at the moment.
#2 ARMY WIFE: Although sire’s progeny have excelled more on turf, the CD main track is one some of his better offspring seem capable of handling (e.g. Silver Prospector); that was surely the case with her as she broke through last time after getting outrun three times on the turf; Maker and Gaffalione have been on fire this meet, so merits respect here in her debut versus winners.
#3 MOMENTOUS MISS: Proved not up to the task when a big price in the Jessamine (G2), won by eventual Breeders’ Cup heroine Aunt Pearl; showed promise first out at Kentucky Downs, though, and form was flattered when both the runner-up and third-place graduated in their respective next outings; daughter of Kantharos could take to the dirt as well; threat for a share or more.
#4 MINUTE WALTZ: A win-early pedigree and a strong pace were among the factors she took advantage of in scoring first out earlier in the meet, going away at the end by 3 1/2 lengths; worth keeping in mind dam is a half-sister to G1 scorers Justin Phillip and Greenpointcrusader, among others, so this daughter of champion and Derby winner Nyquist seemingly has a bright future and should stretch out; figures tough in a race where most of her rivals are relatively exposed.
#5 OLIVIAOFTHEDESERT: Connections set sights a little lower on a filly they’ve thought highly enough of to try in three straight stakes, picking up a pair of black-type placings along the way; only in the Alcibiades (G1) was she completely overmatched, and then it was stablemate Simply Ravishing who won the day; likely contender on the drop.
#6 TIZ SPLENDID NEWS: Nearly beat the boys first out and then ran away from her rivals going a mile in a race that held together despite it being transferred from the turf to the main track; while not an overly quick performance, she demands respect and has the pedigree to get better; she’s a full sister to a juvenile stakes winner and her dam is a full sister to G1 winner Tiz Miz Sue and a half to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint star Bulletin.
#7 STELLAR GRACE: Return to dirt and drop in class both good moves for a filly that was out-footed in a pair of grass stakes at Monmouth over the summer; does need to show more to surprise against these for Hollendorfer, whose runners have been a tad cold this meet; recent bullet prep one positive sign of a potentially better showing.
#8 WHAT GOES ON TOUR: Understandably the only one in the field in for a tag after she graduated against $15,000 maiden rivals in slow time; tough spot to make it two in a row for low-key barn that’s generally done a good job this year (3-for-15) spotting their limited starters.
#9 SPUN D’ETAT: Big maiden win occurred in the slop, but ran well enough over a fast track the race prior to suggest she doesn’t need it wet; simply didn’t show the same punch trying two turns at Keeneland and raced wide that day to boot; some improvement expected on the cut back in distance.
#10 POCA MUCHA: Perhaps dissuaded by the Belterra running line, she was sent off at a big price at Indiana; however, she improved quite dramatically and obviously relished the slop; will be put more to the test here on this tougher circuit and presumably will encounter a fast surface here.
#11 PUYE TIMING: Just failed to hold in an off-the-turf allowance at Keeneland, a much better showing than the race prior when she set a stronger pace; there appears to be ample speed to her inside, though, so she risks getting caught wide in the long run down the backside; needs to quicken against these.
#12 TORSIE’S CHARM: Blinkers added here after she was completely void of tactical foot in the Rags to Riches, a much more difficult spot in which she was a longshot; return to one turn might suit as she easily won in her only prior attempt, but outside draw here will be tough to overcome; despite disappointment first out, a future on turf shouldn’t be discounted given her pedigree.
Churchill Downs Race 9
Golden Rod (G2), 1 1/16 miles
#1 LADY LILLY: Both wins to date were achieved narrowly and in relatively slow affairs; dominated by likely champion Vequist in the Spinaway (G1), beaten 11 lengths in a mismatch; though more experienced than stablemate Clairiere, that one arguably has more room for improvement with just the single start behind her.
#2 NO MO’ SPENDING: One of two in the field exiting state-bred competition, but at least in Alexandria’s case she’s placed in G3 company; this daughter of Uncle Mo was well held first out over this track before righting the ship against New York-bred company; waters are significantly deeper here.
#3 COACH: Had no trouble dispensing with two fields in Indiana and handled the step up in class just fine in the Rags to Riches; will need to take another step forward tackling graded foes here, and worth noting Geroux sticks with stablemate Travel Column, who’s seemingly been placed as if the stronger longer-term prospect.
#4 FARSIGHTED: Stretches out for the first time after two good efforts in Lexington, a seven-length graduation and a runner-up finish behind the promising Joy’s Rocket in a Breeders’ Cup undercard stakes; main concern is the presence of other speed in the field and the fact she’s been a prominent near the lead going short in her last two outings.
#5 TRAVEL COLUMN: Impressive debut win over a next-out winner on Oaks Day and third in the Alcibiades was okay given Simply Ravishing dictated terms all the way around; the gap might close on that rival as that filly enters this in a fresher state with the potent combo of Cox/Geroux in her corner; beware.
#6 CLAIRIERE: Daughter of Hall of Famer Curlin and multiple G1 winner Cavorting was along in time to win first out at a decent price given the modesty of the field on paper; the sky is absolutely the limit for her from a pedigree-perspective, and she merits a lot of respect here despite relative lack of experience.
#7 LADY TRAVELER: More than two lengths adrift of Lady Traveler in the Rags to Riches, and that one possibly no better than third or fourth choice here; has been dependable from the outset of her career in early September, though would be more optimistic about her chances here if she had faster efforts coming in; others preferred.
#8 SIMPLY RAVISHING: Alcibiades (G1) heroine beaten only two lengths in the Breeders’ Cup and thus figures a solid favorite here; perhaps taken a little out of her game that day when an awkward start allowed Dayoutoftheoffice to set the uncontested tempo, the position she rode to victory in the local prep; might try and revert to those tactics here, but even if not she looms the one to beat.
#9 PRINCESS THEOREM: Both tries to date have been solid, and proved much the best in an off-the-turf maiden earlier in the meet; seems to fit speed-wise with most of these despite inexperience facing winners, but class hike is meaningful and she’ll need to take a step forward to be in the mix; addition of Velazquez a plus.
#10 ALEXANDRIA: Comfortably the best Ohio-bred juvenile filly this season, and showed in the Pocahontas (G3) she’s not far off being a contender in certain open-company spots; whether this is one of them is open to debate, though in her defense she was racing fairly close to a scorching pace and simply had nothing left for the final quarter in her last trip under the Twin Spires; a potential exotics booster.
Churchill Downs – Race 10
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs
#1 KING’S OVATION : Graduated nicely at second asking, rallying to win an Oct. 25 maiden special weight going away by 1 3/4 lengths over the track and distance. A $200,000 purchase earlier this year, Not This Time colt was overlooked at 26-1 last time. He received a decent 82 Brisnet Speed rating, and King’s Ovation is eligible to make a late impact if he can work out a trip from the rail.
#2 SMOKIN’ JAY : Posted a sharp debut win on Arlington’s synthetic track, but disappointed when fifth as the favorite in a Presque Isle Downs stakes last out. Cairo Prince colt should be prominent from the start, but he faces a difficult challenge against these foes.
#3 TWILIGHT BLUE : Upset maiden rivals when trying the main track in his second start, but his 79 Brisnet Speed rating came back a little light. By Air Force Blue, Joe Sharp-trained colt was flattered when third-placer Ultimate came back to win his next outing. His tactical speed is an asset, but Twilight Blue will face a class check in this spot.
#4 PICO D’ORO : Trainer Bill Morey adds blinkers following a couple of well-beaten performances. Curlin colt posted a nice win in the Juvenile S. at Ellis Park during the summer, but his form has declined since leaving the Pea Patch. Tough to envision a rebound in this tough entry-level allowance/optional claimer.
#5 CRAZY SHOT : Returns from a freshening after failing to fire in the Iroquois S. (G3) in early September. Trappe Shot colt gamely captured his first start, but received only a 67 Brisnet Speed rating taking a suspect maiden special weight at Ellis Park. Crazy Shot would be a surprise at long odds here.
#6 FOUNDER : Merits serious respect following a fifth at short odds in Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. In his career debut, the $600,000 2-year-old captured a highly rated maiden special weight at Saratoga, rallying to edge Highly Motivated by a neck. Chad Brown-trained Upstart colt should appreciate cutback to 7 furlongs, and Founder will be rallying with Tyler Gaffalione.
#7 CHICKEN TRUCK : He’s the only member of the field entered for the $75,000 claiming tag, and gelding will be making his first start against winners after capturing a $32,000 maiden claiming event at Indiana Grand. This level of competition will likely prove too tough.
#8 TWIRLING MAMBA : Indiana Grand shipper posted a convincing maiden win at first asking. Favored at 2-5 in his second start, Twirling Candy colt stumbled and lost the jockey at the break in an entry-level allowance race. With a couple of nice works in the interim, he’s intriguing at an expected price Saturday. The runner-up and third-placer from his debut came back to win their next start, and Twirling Mamba has speed.
#9 JOHNY’S FIREBALL : Switches surfaces after a turf maiden win as the favorite in his third outing, but his lone main track attempt was disappointing. Tonalist colt has the early zip to be a pace factor, but he must improve significantly to challenge in the latter stages.
#10 MANDALOUN : A major win contender, Into Mischief colt rallied to capture his first start at Keeneland as the 11-10 favorite, and he was flattered when runner-up Bob’s Edge came back to break his maiden at Churchill last weekend. From a classy European female family, Juddmonte Farms homebred shows a fast 5-furlong work in preparation, and Mandaloun received a solid 84 Brisnet Speed rating last time. Brad Cox trainee should keep moving forward with Florent Geroux.
#11 ULTIMATE : Rallied to narrowly prevail in an off-the-turf maiden in his second outing. Speightstown colt may continue to improve for Steve Asmussen, but he defeated a questionable group of foes last time. Ultimate does possess decent tactical speed, and he’s eligible to establish a favorable stalking trip from his outside post.
Churchill Downs – Race 11
Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), 1 1/16 miles
#1 SWILL : After dropping his first two starts at Keeneland and Saratoga, Munnings colt rolled to a three-length, wire-to-wire score at Churchill Downs in his last outing. He received a commendable 89 Brisnet Speed rating last time, and Brad Cox will remove blinkers in the stakes debut. Swill faces a class check, but the front-runner catches a field lacking pace and rates as intriguing with Florent Geroux.
#2 SITTIN ON GO : Showed an affinity for Churchill Downs when posting a 2 1/2-length victory in the Sept. 5 Iroquois S. (G3) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Brody’s Cause colt received some support (9-1 odds) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but never fired finishing ninth. Look for an improved showing in this spot from the Dale Romans trainee. Sittin on Go may not receive a favorable pace scenario for his late kick, but remains a win contender.
#3 ARABIAN PRINCE : Rallied to a visually impressive debut win under the Twin Spires in early September, but the Dallas Stewart-trained Mshawish colt lacked the necessary finishing kick when fourth most recently in the Street Sense S. After showing little tactical speed in both outings, Arabian Prince appears to be facing a difficult challenge. He does add the services of Tyler Gaffalione.
#4 KEEPMEINMIND : Experienced a ridiculous trip during the early stages of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), shuffled back to 14th after a rough start, and closed with a rush to be beaten only two lengths by Essential Quality in third. Second to the same rival in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) two back, Keepmeinmind should appreciate the class relief in this spot. He is winless from three outings, and the Laoban colt’s closing style doesn’t appear favorable given the projected pace, but it would be foolish to dismiss the Robertino Diodoro trainee from win consideration following a pair of classy efforts at the Grade 1 level.
#5 SMILEY SOBOTKA : Tries stakes competition following a 12-1 upset over maiden special weight rivals at Keeneland in early October. By Brody’s Cause, the Dale Romans-trained colt has received lower Brisnet Speed ratings in both starts, and the chestnut probably needs an easier spot to be competitive.
#6 INSPECTOR FROST : Stylishly broke his maiden in the second outing, graduating wire-to-wire by an easy two-length margin, and Godolphin homebred son of Frosted adds John Velazquez for his initial stakes attempt. Brad Cox takes blinkers off the gray colt, and Inspector Frost appears to have a bright future. But he will need to run faster after netting an 84 Brisnet Speed rating last time.
#7 ONCOMING TRAIN : After upsetting maiden rivals at 24-1 in his first career start, Mineshaft colt added front wraps and checked in a well-beaten third in the Street Sense S. earlier this meet. Dark bay colt remains eligible to improve upon his first start against winners for Jimmy DiVito, but Oncoming Train may not be fast enough to offer a serious challenge here.
#8 KING FURY : Adds blinkers following an even seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A $950,000 yearling purchase, Curlin colt recorded a half-length victory in the Street Sense S. two back, and he’s 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs. The Kenny McPeek trainee earned a respectable 93 Brisnet Speed rating two back, and King Fury is a candidate to make an impact from just off the pace with Brian Hernandez Jr.
#9 ULTIMATE BADGER : He may find this class hike too taxing, but Commissioner colt is making fine progress for Dale Romans. Seventh in the Iroquois three back, Ultimate Badger returned to the winner’s circle with a game neck win over a fancied rival in an entry-level allowance last out. His Speed figures must continue to improve, but his up-close run style may play favorably. Won’t dismiss him from top three consideration at long odds.
Churchill Downs — Race 12
Maiden Special Weight, 7 Furlongs
#1 SULLY’S BRO: Ian Wilkes trainee debuts from the tough rail post in a big field. Bodemeister colt has trained well locally but will likely need one for a low-percentage first-out conditioner.
#2 NITRO TIME: Second timer from the Lynch barn was well-beaten in a turf sprint over a ‘good’ course at first asking. Munnings colt is kin to a juvenile graduate, and he has trained fairly well on the main surface at Churchill, as well. Gabe Saez picks up the mount.
#3 VANCOUVER MOON: January foal by 9% debut sire Vancouver will make his first run for solid debut trainer Eddie Kenneally. Homebred shows a steady string of drills at this locale, and the dark bay could be live, especially if he takes early money. Gaffalione has the assignment.
#4 REPO ROCKS: Mott charge has failed to hit the board in two straight, including a seventh-place run on the turf last time out. Tapiture colt is eligible for improvement if he runs to his past pair of half-mile moves on the oval most recently.
#5 PRINCE MAIOR: Data Link homebredis cut out to get better with seasoning, and he will likely do his best work on the green, as well. The Lobo pupil would be a surprise at first asking.
#6 LAUGHING BOY: Chestnut son of Distorted Humor fetched a bid of $400,000 as a yearling and will make his debut for McPeek. Kentucky-bred has trained forwardly on the oval for a capable conditioner with first-time starters, and he could be live with Robby Albarado on board.
#7 OUTASITE: Obvious win contender led until late stretch before finishing a solid fourth on the strip for conditioner Brad Cox. The $380,000 son of Outwork removes the blinkers, and he shows a trio of strong morning drills in the interim for a 27% second-out conditioner. Florent Geroux will be in the silks.
#8 FED MONEY: Fed Biz colt was a bargain $4,000 yearling who will make his first offering for 11% debut conditioner James Baker. January foal shows average morning works on the surface, and he would be a bit of a surprise in the big field beneath Cannon.
#9 SABUDA: Meah trainee rallied to be a solid second in a $150,000 maiden claiming test at Keeneland. Second timer by young sire Metaboss has posted a pair of positive moves in the interim, and the Golden State-bred could be dangerous with a forward move on Saturday.
#10 RUNWAY MAGIC: Runhappy colt showed major improvement second time out when third following a poor break from the rail against similar. Rusty Arnold trainee draws much better for his third career assignment, and the 2-year-old looms large with another forward move under regular pilot Leparoux.
#11 GROUP HUG: Sneaky second timer made up good ground when fifth on debut for a below par first-out conditioner. Bay son of Speightster put in a solid five-furlong drill on the surface most recently, and he will be a late player under Brian Hernandez.
#12 PERSIAN EMPIRE: $260,000 son of Empire Maker is the second foal out of a stakes winner who drew outside for D. Wayne Lukas. Kentucky-bred goes for a barn at 0-for-92 on debut, so we will watch one from the colt for now.
#13 RACARINO: First on the also-eligibles list tired late when a well-beaten fifth at Churchill at first go. Sisterson trainee hails from an outfit that wins at a 13% second career race, so the son of Mineshaft wouldn’t be a huge surprise with a nice move forward.
#14 CONVENTION: The $230,000 son of Constitution didn’t show much in his first offering for Asmussen. Kentucky-bred colt seems better suited to route racing, and perhaps the turf, as well.
#15 PATRIARCH ARTIE: We Miss Artie second timer showed big early foot before being outrun late in a route race on the surface in his debut showing. Maker pupil will benefit from the cutback in distance, and he rates a chance if he draws into the body of the field under Santana.
#16 WELLMAN: Dark bay son of Twirling Candy has closed to be second and third from a pair of runs to date for Reed. April foal faces better in this spot, however, and the colt looks to be in deep from an impossible post slot, too.