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A full field of 14 horses are set to contend for the Grade 2, $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The event will go off as the eleventh race on Churchill Downs’ “Stars of Tomorrow II” card featuring twelve races, all of which are for 2-year-olds. The Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes will be the other highlight of the card, as twelve fillies take an early aim at the Kentucky Oaks (for daily cards across the country, check out the Entries page).
The Kentucky Jockey Club features three horses on our current Kentucky Derby Top 20 list: Givemeaminit, Gotta Go, and Enticed. Each of these horses exit different races going into this event.
Givemeaminit might be the most established horse in the field, even though he’s still a maiden. Coming off of a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last start, he never threatened the top three but still put in a solid showing. The Dallas Stewart trainee was also third, beaten only a neck, in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga earlier in the year.
Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the winner, Good Magic, only defeated Enticed by a little over 3 lengths last time out in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. The Champagne was the first stakes try for Enticed, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, who won on debut at Saratoga in early September. Enticed is trained by New York-based Kiaran McLaughlin.
Finally, local hero Gotta Go was victorious over this track last time out in the $80,000 Street Sense Stakes. The win gave him two victories in a row, both of which came with late surges at the end. The competition will stiffen for Gotta Go in this spot, but he has momentum on his side: his trainer, Ian Wilkes, won this race last year with McCraken.
Post time for the Kentucky Jockey Club will be 5:56 PM (EST).
#6 Enticed – After winning on debut at Saratoga (which is always tough to do), he really caught everyone’s eye in the Champagne last time out at Belmont Park. He was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Firenze Fire and Good Magic, the latter of which would be a heavy favorite in this race. That Enticed finished within 3 1/2 lengths of Good Magic is very impressive. McLaughlin hardly ever ships to Churchill Downs unless it’s Kentucky Derby weekend, so I think he’s ready to pick up a win. With a full field of fourteen entered, this will be a tough challenge, but Enticed could be an up-and-coming horse to watch as the Kentucky Derby preps begin to heat up.
#11 Quip – At the moment, this is one of my sleeper horses for the Kentucky Derby. He is an undefeated two-for-two thus far, and he really caught my eye last time out at Keeneland. The Rodolphe Brisset trainee absolutely destroyed the competition, winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race by 6 1/2 lengths. When Florent Geroux rides for this barn, it’s usually on a good horse, and the low-profile Brisset may have himself a really nice prospect. He doesn’t have the class yet, but it’s time to see how he will do against stakes company.
#5 Givemeaminit – You can’t help but love this maiden; he just keeps trying against the toughest juvenile stakes company in the country. Three races back, he nearly won the Hopeful, and last time out, he was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Whether or not he’s won a race, that’s an impressive resume. In the Breeders’ Cup, he was no match for the top three finishers, but it was impressive that he was able to beat all of the others. This race will actually be a class DROP for him compared to the last three races. Will he be able to find the winner’s circle?
#8 High North – This intriguing prospect for trainer Brad Cox has strong company lines. In his debut race, he was fourth behind Road to Meath, Good Magic, and Hazit. In his next start, he improved to second, defeated by Avery Island, another hot up-and-coming 2-year-old. Last time out at Keeneland, he proved game enough to break his maiden by a nose, going the same distance as this race. He won’t be overwhelmed from a class standpoint and should be around at the end.
#12 Tiz Mischief – Entering the race for trainer Dale Romans off of a maiden win last time out at Keeneland going the same distance as this race, there’s no doubt that going longer improved this horse, but he’ll need to step up here to win. Romans has entered two horses that are in good form heading into this one, but I’m not sure if either are good enough to actually win.
#4 Arrival – It took five chances, but Arrival finally broke his maiden last time out, winning nicely by nearly 4 lengths. That win is encouraging, but his multiple losses to Tiz Mischief aren’t exciting. If you’re high on Tiz Mischief, then perhaps you’re high on Arrival, too, but I’m not. I think that they’re both just good underneath candidates.
#7 Promises Fulfilled – The good news is that this Romans trainee is a perfect two-for-two, and you can’t get much better than that at this point. He also has a win over this track, but it was at 6 furlongs. He now must go two turns for the first time, but the breeding suggests that he’ll be okay. I question the competition that he’s been beating, which is why I put him as an exotic play instead of something higher. This is definitely going to be a step up in class.
#2 Diamond King – Shipping in from Parx with very flashy speed figures, he also brings a lot of question marks. This will be his first race around two turns, but he’s by Quality Road, so this distance shouldn’t be out of his range. The jump up in class will be tremendous, but he’s done everything the right way in both of his races. Don’t touch him at a low price, but if he creeps up to double-digit odds, he’s worth a small shot.
#10 Bravazo – After breaking his maiden over this track three races ago by an eye-catching 4 3/4 lengths, then finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. That resume would be good enough to place him as one of the favorites for this race, but his well-beaten third last time out in the Street Sense is troublesome. That was not the strongest field, and this race figures to be much tougher. I’m not sure if he just had an off day or if he was lucky to finish second in the Breeders’ Futurity. This race will give us a better read on him.
#1 Gotta Go – In a race like this, horse can win, but I have to throw a few out. Gotta Go is coming off of a WIN last time out, and I’ve still tossed him. The final time for the race came back slow, and I’m not high on any of the horses that he finished ahead of in that field. He could make me look foolish, but you have to take some stands in this race against horses that are solid.
#13 Lone Sailor – There’s nothing wrong with this horse, but I hate his outside draw. In a race this competitive, every little thing will matter, and I don’t think that he’s good enough to overcome it. He’s hit the board in his last three races, though, so it’s not out of the question that he’ll exceed my expectations.
#9 Reride – He has dangerous connections, but on paper, he looks to be slightly overmatched. Yes, Reride is undefeated, but his best win actually came on the turf. His dirt race does not match up well from a speed figure standpoint.
#14 Peppered – He tries the dirt for the first time here after his first three races came over Woodbine’s synthetic surface. Last time out, he was a solid second in the Grade 2 Grey Stakes as the 2/5 favorite. If he takes to the dirt, then he’ll have a shot.
#3 John Tippmann – Out of the 14 entries in the race, he’s the only one in which I couldn’t find a lot of positives. He broke his maiden four races back but has since finished fifth in a pair of stakes races that weren’t as tough as this one. He’s the only “easy” toss.
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