09/11/2013 12:29PM

Churchill Downs: Sentimental favorite Kendall’s Boy looks sharp

Tom Keyser
Kendall's Boy, who finished second in his debut on Aug. 23, was named after owner Jerry Namy's friend Kendall Hill, who died in a 2011 plane crash

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As the only allowance of the card, the ninth of 10 races Friday at Churchill Downs will serve as the nominal feature. But it is the preceding race, the last of five maiden races on the day, that’s likely to draw the most attention from serious fans and horseplayers.

That’s because a 2-year-old colt named Kendall’s Boy will make his second career start in the six-furlong race. On Aug. 23 at Saratoga, Kendall’s Boy finished second to the highly touted Havana, who earned an eye-popping 102 Beyer Speed Figure with his 2 3/4-length victory as a 2-5 favorite.

Kendall’s Boy, for his part, got a 94 Beyer, and that set off the predictable flurry of phone calls from deep-pocketed would-be buyers. Alas, the colt is not for sale, trainer Tom Amoss said this week.

Amoss said owner Jerry Namy “has a very strong attachment to the colt” because he is named for Kendall Hill, who was Namy’s partner in the horse business and close friend before they both were among four people in a twin-engine plane crash in October 2009 when returning to their Dallas-area homes after a day of racing at Remington Park in Oklahoma.

Namy, now 75, survived the crash, albeit with injuries severe enough that he spent a month in the intensive-care unit, another month at a rehabilitation center, and was confined to a wheelchair for some time after that. Although the pilot also survived, Hill and Namy’s business partner, Bob Schumacher, both died as a result of their injuries.

“Obviously, it was a major event in Jerry’s life, so he’s not about to let go of a horse named for Kendall,” Amoss said.

Kendall’s Boy, by Sky Mesa, was a $100,000 purchase last September at the Keeneland yearling sale. Off a strong series of workouts, he was well-regarded going into his debut and was sent away the 4-1 second choice in an eight-horse field. He pressed Havana throughout when finishing 4 1/4 lengths clear of the third-place finisher.

“He’s shown a lot of potential,” Amoss said. “I mean a lot. I thought his first race was very good, and we’re hoping to build on that Friday. He’s got a start under his belt, which you’d think is an advantage.”

Kendall’s Boy, with Rosie Napravnik back to ride, was assigned the outside post as the even-money morning-line favorite in a field of 10 2-year-olds. First post Friday is 1:45 p.m. Eastern, with the eighth set for 5:28.

The featured ninth (post 5:59) drew a field of 10 fillies and mares competing under a first-level allowance condition. Likely favorites in the 1 1/8-mile turf race are Strike Charmer and Alydorable.