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The Racing Dudes react to Instant Coffee winning the 2022 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, a major early prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). Watch the replay for the Racing Dudes’ INSTANT reactions, then tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Instant Coffee rallied wide into a slow pace and surged to the front inside the final sixteenth of a mile to win Saturday’s 96th running of the $399,625 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) at Churchill Downs by 1 ¼ lengths over Curly Jack and give jockey Luis Saez his sixth victory on the “Stars of Tomorrow II” program for 2-year-olds.
Instant Coffee, owned by Al Gold’s Gold Square LLC and trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.25, earned $238,440 and collected 10 points as part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve” series, which offered points on a scale of 10-4-3-2-1 to the Top 5 finishers as a “Prep Season” race.
“This is one of the biggest reasons why we do this – to be on the Road to the Kentucky Derby,” Cox said. “We’re extremely proud of this colt to win like that in just his third start. He really does whatever you ask of him in the morning. It was a pretty slow pace but Luis kept after him and he was able to keep grinding out the win.”
Instant Coffee was rated wide in seventh down the backstretch about four lengths back as Gigante led the field of nine 2-year-olds colts through dawdling fractions of :24.76, :50 and 1:15.02. Cyclone Mischief briefly poked his head in front leaving the final turn as Instant Coffee came under a drive and moved into fifth as the field began to bunch. Instant Coffee, who raced four-to-five paths wide throughout, proved to be best in the stretch as eight of the nine entrants were in contention down the lane.
“He broke a little bit slow today so we got behind the pace,” Saez said. “I was a little worried because they weren’t really going fast at all up front and I was pretty wide. I could tell around the far turn my horse was trying very hard and I was very confident in him. We were able to make a big run into the lane and he kept finding more. He’s a young horse who’s just getting started and figuring things out.”
Instant Coffee paid $5.08, $2.98 and $2.40 as the 3-2 favorite. Curly Jack, under Edgar Morales, paid $3.60 and $2.46 as the 5-2 second betting choice. Hayes Strike was another head back in third and returned $5.22 to show at odds of 22-1 with Rafael Bejarano aboard.
It was a nose back to Red Route One in fourth and another nose back to Denington in fifth. They were followed by Gignate, Cyclone Mischief, Freedom Trail and a distanced Western Ghent.
Overall, Instant Coffee has won three of his three starts with earnings of $322,815. His lone blemish was a fourth place finish in the $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland in his previous start.
Instant Coffee, a son of Bolt d’Oro out of the Uncle Mo mare Follow No One, was bred in Kentucky by Sagamore Farm.
Saez’s six victories on the day – Determinedly ($4.22) in Race 1, Victory Formation ($4.74) in Race 3, Vahva ($5) in Race 4, Point Proven ($6.50) in Race 5, Worthington ($9.10) in Race 6 and Instant Coffee ($5.08) in Race 11 – was just the 12th time that milestone has occurred at Churchill Downs, which opened in 1875. It fell one win short of the track record of seven, set by Pat Day on June 20, 1984 and matched by Julien Leparoux on Nov. 11, 2008.
The Kentucky Jockey Club is named in honor of the holding company that operated Churchill Downs at the time of the race’s inaugural running in 1920. In recent years, the Kentucky Jockey Club produced Kentucky Derby winners in WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, who won both races for trainer Todd Pletcher in 2009 and ’10, and Mike Pegram’s Real Quiet, the runner-up in the 1997 Kentucky Jockey Club who returned to win the Derby the following spring.
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