A short, five-day Keeneland meet provided exciting action across the board, and though this was held in the summer instead of the spring, we were still treated to a host of elite horses and witnessed the emergence of a new Kentucky Derby (G1) threat. Here is who made our latest Three Stars of the Week:
1. Rushing Fall
Something magical happens whenever Rushing Fall runs at Keeneland. “The Turf Rocket” has now won 5 of her 6 starts on the Lexington turf course, every single one of them in graded stakes action. In Saturday’s Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1), she tracked early pacesetter Jolie Olimpica before getting ahead at the top of the stretch, then held steady while never asked for her best. She defended her 2019 title and is now a Grade 1 winner at age 2, 3, 4, and 5. That includes a Breeders’ Cup victory in 2017, and this year’s world championships will be held – where else? – at Keeneland.
2. Art Collector
Welcome to the Kentucky Derby, Art Collector! The Bernardini colt made his dirt stakes debut in stylish fashion, winning Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes (G2) with a career-best effort. He sat near the front early, with Brian Hernandez, Jr., keeping Art Collector in perfect striking position. At the top of the stretch, he split between Rushie and the filly Swiss Skydiver, then drew off when asked. He remains undefeated in 2020 and earned enough points (100) to make him a mortal lock for the Derby gate. His impressive turn of foot makes him a legitimate threat.
3. Zulu Alpha
The top American turf male returned off the bench with a strong first effort back in Sunday’s Elkhorn Stakes (G2). He tracked the pace for much of the early running, with Tyler Gaffalione waiting until the right moment to press the gas. Making his move heading into the far turn, Zulu Alpha hit the top of the stretch with a slim lead and prevailed in the stretch like the division leader that he is. The Mike Maker trainee is accomplished at the distance and over the course that the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) will be contested – the only question is, can he beat the best that Europe has to offer? Only time will tell.