11/22/2012 2:21PM

Churchill Downs: Silver Strike taking a bit of a jump into Golden Rod

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – David Carroll intended to run Silver Strike in an allowance on the Stars of Tomorrow card Saturday at Churchill Downs, but hold that thought. With a standout filly named Sign finished for the year, Carroll opted instead for the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes, reasoning that the race might be coming up a little lighter than normal.

Whether or not it was the right move will be determined Saturday, when Silver Strike takes on eight other 2-year-old fillies in the 69th running of the $150,000 Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles.

“It looked like smaller field, and maybe with Sign not running, it opened the race up,” Carroll said.

Silver Strike, with Brian Hernandez Jr. to ride from post 4, is one of a handful of viable contenders in a race lacking a big favorite. Gal About Town, second by four lengths as the runner-up to Sign in the Grade 2 Pocahontas four weeks ago, probably will be the fans’ choice when she starts from post 9 under Jesus Castanon, albeit a lukewarm one. The entire lineup includes only one stakes winner, and a minor one at that: Danalake (post 2, Joe Bravo), winner of a $50,000 race at Delaware Park in August.

“That’s why we decided to take a shot,” Carroll said. “We’re not sure how far the filly wants to go because of her pedigree, but she’s got talent and a good cruising speed.”

Silver Strike, by the young Unbridled’s Song sire First Defence, will be stretching out around two turns for the first time after winning a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race at first asking before finishing a close third in a seven-furlong allowance on the first Stars of Tomorrow card of the meet on Oct. 28.

“To me, she was the best horse in the race that day because she really got intimidated coming up the inside and got herself beat,” Carroll said.

Other considerations in a well-balanced Golden Rod include Pow Wow Wow (post 1, Calvin Borel), entered off a Delaware Park maiden victory by trainer Nick Zito; Broken Spell (post 3, Joe Rocco Jr.), a 21-1 runner-up in the Grade 1 Alcibiades before finishing a distant sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies three weeks ago in California; Cloudy Vow (post 5, Shaun Bridgmohan), third behind Sign and Gal About Town in the Pocahontas; Street of Gold (post 6, Corey Lanerie), getting first-time Lasix for trainer Paul McGee, who 12 years ago won the Golden Rod with Miss Pickums; and Liberated (post 7, Jon Court), a sharp maiden winner on the first Stars of Tomorrow card.

Longshot Seaneen Girl (post 8, Miguel Mena) rounds out the cast.

The Golden Rod, named for the Kentucky state flower, goes as the ninth of 12 Saturday races.