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LOUISVILLE, KY – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher’s Saratoga debut winner Goddess of Fire is one of several runners stretching out to try two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $300,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
The Pocahontas is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to juvenile fillies that serves as the eighth event on an 11-race card with a local post time of 9:39 PM. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar this November, as well as 17 total points on the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Pocahontas:
1. Code for Success 20/1 – She broke her maiden on debut from the rail in a 6-furlong Ellis Park sprint on August 13 for trainer Vicki Oliver, becoming just the third juvenile to win its unveiling from the barn’s past 51 starters. Rafael Bejarano, aboard that day, is Oliver’s go-to rider and the duo caught fire over the summer by winning 11 of their past 60 shared mounts (18%), including 3 stakes in August.
2. Goddess of Fire 6/1 – A half-sis to multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control, her debut victory in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint on August 22 came while closely watching the pace before gamely scoring by a neck. Though this is a relatively quick turnaround for a horse having to ship for the first time, Pletcher has a strong 25% success rate with debut winners making their second career starts in under 30 days.
“It wasn’t easy,” Pletcher told Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch after the race. “She had to keep finding more, but she did, and I think she’s another who wants a little more ground.”
3. Mama Rina 12/1 – She tries dirt after making 2 starts in Ellis Park turf routes, including a 1 1/16-mile event last time out in which she fought hard to win by nose. Trainer Kenny McPeek scored a pair of 2020 stakes with 2-year-old fillies (Simply Ravishing and Crazy Beautiful) who went dirt to turf, though he failed to win when attempting the same scenario in the 2019 Pocahontas with Morning Gold.
4. Ontheonesandtwos 5/2 – She returns to Churchill Downs after finishing sixth as the 2/1 favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. Her first 2 career starts came over this course; she broke her maiden on debut by 1 3/4 lengths going 5 furlongs before finishing second by a length in the 6-furlong Debutante Stakes. Perhaps returning to familiar ground reverses her form.
5. Majestic d’Oro 8/1 – She broke her maiden on debut in a 5 1/2-furlong Indiana Grand sprint on August 19, winning handily by 5 3/4 lengths against an easier field than what some of her rivals defeated. In the past 5 years, trainer Brendan Walsh sent 5 debut-winning juveniles against stakes company in their next starts and earned a win (Maxfield in the Breeders’ Futurity [G1]), a second, and a third.
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6. Maxine Machine 6/1 – She broke her maiden on debut for trainer Brad Cox in an Ellis Park turf mile route on August 29, slipping up the rail in the stretch and winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Cox succeeds at a strong 36% with juvenile runners making similar surface swaps, her dam Emma’s Encore was a Grade 1-winning dirt sprinter, and the barn’s top rider Florent Geroux has the mount. All systems go?
7. Kneesnhips 8/1 – She tries dirt after a pair of starts in 5 1/2-furlong turf sprints for trainer Tom Amoss, who hits at 17% with runners going turf to dirt. The 5/2 favorite when winning her debut at Ellis Park, she was third in the Bolton Landing Stakes over a yielding Saratoga turf course despite breaking slowly. Amoss and jockey James Graham have a 27% win rate together at Churchill Downs.
8. Miss Chamita 30/1 – She broke her maiden at fourth asking last time out, winning a mile-long Indiana Grand dirt route by 6 3/4 lengths while circling the field in her most recent appearance. That was her first start wearing blinkers and getting race-day Lasix, and though she keeps the hood for her first try against winners, she won’t get Lasix this time. Trainer Michel Doualhy wins 21% with juveniles.
9. Hidden Connection 9/2 – She broke her maiden on debut in a 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint at Colonial Downs, romping by 7 1/2 lengths and earning a field-high 84 Beyer Speed Figure for her efforts. Though trainer Bret Calhoun wins 21% with 2-year-olds in general, his barn is only 1 for the past 8 in juvenile stakes under the Twin Spires; that victory came in the 2017 Pocahontas with Patrona Margarita.
10. Lemieux 10/1 – She broke her maiden at third asking for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, winning an off-turf 7-furlong Saratoga sprint against just two rivals and garnering a low 55 Beyer. She lost by a head 2 starts back to a next-out stakes winner in a 6-furlong muddy sprint against seven others at The Spa, so if the rain expected Saturday morning is heavy, then she could be sneaky at a price.
11. Joyrunner 10/1 The only entry with multiple wins under her belt, she broke her maiden on debut while going 5 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy (sealed) surface, then romped by 8 1/4 lengths on fast dirt against first-level allowance company. Both wins came against lesser at Indiana Grand, but she looked like a stakes horse last time out and sire Gun Runner is red-bleeping-hot with this first crop.
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