With presumptive division champion Forte no longer in their line of sight, Curly Jack and Instant Coffee have serious claims in Saturday’s $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs.
Contested over 1 1/16 miles, the Kentucky Jockey Club offers 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 10-4-3-2-1 to the respective top five finishers. Curly Jack has already secured 13 points, courtesy of a one-length win in the series-opening Iroquois (G3) in mid-September, which was followed by a distant fifth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), in which he finished 12 lengths behind Forte.
Instant Coffee was no more competitive against Forte when seven lengths fourth in the Oct. 8 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, but the son of Bolt d’Oro won on debut at Saratoga for trainer Brad Cox in his previous start and has room for further improvement.
Red Route One, a rallying third after a slow start in the Breeders’ Futurity two back, was an ineffective fifth in the Oct. 30 Street Sense (G3) at Churchill over a sloppy track when last seen. Also exiting the Street Sense is runner-up Hayes Strike.
Moving to the dirt after recent forays on grass are Freedom Trail, who captured his first two starts at Aqueduct including the Awad S., and Gigante, an easy winner of the Kitten’s Joy S. at Colonial Downs in early September. Another potential threat is Denington, a son of Gun Runner who graduated on the Oct. 30 Stars of Tomorrow I card at Churchill in his fourth appearance.
Among the undercard stakes Saturday is the $200,000 Ed Brown for juveniles over six furlongs.