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The next step towards the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) is set for this Saturday at Churchill Downs when a field of nine 2-year-olds run in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). Held at 1 1/16 miles, the Kentucky Jockey Club is carded as Race 11 of 12 on Saturday’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” program featuring all 2-year-old races. The race will go off at 5:56 PM ET, sharing the spotlight with its female counterpart, the $200,000 Golden Rod (G2) for 2-year-old fillies.
The Dale Romans-trained Sittin On Go will try to make it a Churchill Downs double on Saturday. The Brody’s Cause colt pulled off a 24/1 upset in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) here prior to finishing a well-beaten ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last time out, so he will need to bounce back in this spot. Regular rider Cory Lanerie is back aboard, breaking from post 2.
The horse with the most class in the race could be Keepmeinmind, despite the fact that he’s never actually won. After finishing second on debut, the Robertino Diodoro-trained colt finished second in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), losing both times to Essential Quality, widely regarded as the best 2-year-old in the country. right now Jockey David Cohen is back aboard, breaking from post 4.
Another Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner making his next start here is King Fury, who finished seventh there. He won both career starts at Churchill Downs, including the Street Sense Stakes 2 starts back. The Curlin colt drew post 8 and will have Brian Hernandez Jr. along for the ride.
The full field from the rail out: Swill, Sittin On Go, Arabian Prince, Keepmeinmind, Smiley Sobotka, Inspector Frost, Oncoming Train, King Fury, and Ultimate Badger.
#4 Keepmeinmind – It was hard to pick a maiden to win this race, but he seems like the logical candidate. His runner-up effort 2 back at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) was solid, but the big thing he proved last time out is that he could back it up. Sent off at odds of 30/1, Keepmeinmind rallied strongly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to finish third after a terrible start. Those efforts are likely to be good enough to win this race.
#2 Swill – During the summer, this is the Brad Cox horse who had the most hype, but he fell short of expectations at Saratoga. He turned it around last time out, though, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs by 3 lengths. Drawing towards the inside could be to his benefit because he has a lot of speed, which means he could shoot to the lead without issue. If he does, he could take this field a long ways, perhaps all the way to the winner’s circle.
#1 Sittin On Go – The Iroquois Stakes (G3) winner is back at Churchill Downs after finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last time out. He was done early in that race, though, so I’m drawing a line through it as a non-effort. He finds a much easier spot here, and we know he likes Churchill Downs, so we should see an improved performance.
#5 Inspector Frost – His debut race at Keeneland was a bit disappointing, finishing a distant third, but he came back last time out to score an impressive victory at Churchill Downs. Now, the colt stretches out in distance for the first time, which is where he should really excel. Brad Cox has been on fire the last few months, and he gets John Velazquez to ride, which is a great sign that they expect this horse to run big.
#7 King Fury – There is no doubt this horse is intriguing, especially since he has a perfect record at Churchill Downs. However, he has struggled big-time in his 2 tries against graded stakes company, which is a cause for concern. Still, with his pedigree, there is reason to be optimistic that he’ll run well here.
#6 Oncoming Train – After a strong debut win at Keeneland, this colt faced winners for the first time last time out and finished third in the Street Sense Stakes. That race was not quite at strong as his debut; however, we could see improvement today with this being his second race going two-turns. His pedigree suggests he can run all day long, so this could be a horse that can hit the board at a price.
#8 Ultimate Badger – The Dale Romans trainee could be sneaky in this spot. He comes into the race off of a nice allowance win over this track and at this distance, and Romans has been known to pull upsets at Churchill Downs with 2-year-olds. His speed figures aren’t that far off and he should excel in two-turn races.
#1A Smiley Sobotka – He seems to be on the improve after 2 lifetime starts, which is good, because his speed figures still need some work heading into this race. I nearly put him as a “Party Crashser” but thought that the jump in class might be too much for him.
#3 Arabian Prince – This horse isn’t without a chance, but he needs a solid speed figure improvement to have a chance. Before he proves he can do that, you have to lean against him in races of this caliber.
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