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Churchill Downs: Kentucky Jockey Club lures deep field of 13
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There is a certain asymmetry in the way the twin 2-year-old stakes Saturday at Churchill Downs shape up. While the Golden Rod Stakes seems marginally passable in its Grade 2 ranking, it appears that the male counterpart, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, might have come up with its deepest field in years.
The Golden Rod and KJC, both $150,000 races at 1 1/16 miles, anchor a 12-race Stars of Tomorrow program that helps close down the Churchill fall meet. The Golden Rod, carded as race 9, drew nine 2-year-old fillies, while the KJC (race 11) got 13 colts and geldings and was brimming over with potential when entries were drawn Wednesday.
Gal About Town figures as the Golden Rod favorite after being a decent second to the highly regarded Sign in the Pocahontas on the first Stars of Tomorrow program on opening day, Oct. 28. The only stakes winner in the lineup is Danalake, and she’s a minor winner at that, having won a $50,000 race at Delaware Park in August for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Conversely, the KJC is replete with the kind of flashy, well-bred horses that surely have their connections dreaming of another big race here in a little more than five months.
“Maybe he will be my next [Kentucky] Derby horse, I don’t know,” trainer Dale Romans said of Dewey Square, a Bernardini colt who embodies the field as an eased-up winner of both starts so far. “This Kentucky Jockey Club should tell us a lot, and I’m sure that goes for a lot of other guys, too.”
Uncaptured, already a four-time stakes winner, including the Iroquois on opening day, could be a slight favorite in the KJC. The Lion Heart colt is trained by Mark Casse, who also entered Indiano Jones as an uncoupled entrymate.
Other KJC notables include Joha, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last month at Keeneland, and the Ken McPeek duo of Java’s War and Frac Daddy.
Besides the two stakes, a terrific Saturday card also includes five allowances and five maiden special weight races. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern, with the 12th race set for 6:03. The last few races, including the KJC, will be run under the lights.
Sunday is closing day of the 21-day meet, with the Grade 3 River City Handicap serving as the feature. Turfway Park starts four months of winter racing the following Thursday, Nov. 29.
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