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HRN Original Blog:
Pedigree Power

McCraken Stays Perfect in the 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club

McCraken made a late rally from off the pace to capture the 2016 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, keeping his perfect record intact.


At the start of the 1 1/16 mile race, Channing Hill pushed Uncontested from post 12 to make the pace by a length. A rank Wild Shot and Romeo O Romeo ran as a team behind the pace setter with the rest of the field tightly grouped behind them. Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. settled McCraken into ninth place on the outside during the early race stages.  Uncontested clipped off a 23.45 opening quarter mile and a 47.38 half mile. Never further than a length in front, Uncontested rolled through six furlongs in 1:12 and a mile in 1:37.34.


McCraken was given his cue near the 3/8 mile pole and started picking off horses. As they hit the top of the stretch, no one was going anywhere fast. A tiring Uncontested and Wild Shot started to stagger while Warrior's Club and McCraken slowly closed the gap. A half furlong from the wire, Uncontested backed up, leaving Wild Shot to take on McCraken. It was no contest, as McCraken breezed by Wild Shot to win by 1 ¼ lengths.  Wild Shot finished second, 3 ¾ lengths in front of Warrior’s Club who placed third, a head in front of a game Uncontested. McCracken ran 1 1/6 miles in 1:44.15.  

McCraken rewarded his fans with  $3.60, $2.40 $2.40 across the board. Wild Shot offered $4.40, $3.60 to place, while Warrior’s Club paid $3.60  to show. The $2 exacta was a chalky $15.00, the $2 trifecta paid $105.20, and the $2 superfecta was $359.60. 


After the race, Brian Hernandez Jr. was Derby dreaming. “Anytime you get a good 2-year-old like this you start thinking Derby, but we’ll just sit down with Ian (Sunday) morning and we’ll map out a plan from here. He’s (McCraken) a boy but he’s growing up and he’s getting it all together. He was a lot more settled today and in his last race he hadn’t run in a while but today he did everything the right way.”

Ian Wilkes was more grounded in his assessment of McCraken’s victory. “He is as good as I thought he was and he handled it well. He needed that race tonight, he needed a little test. He had to really run tonight, they didn’t hand it to him. It wasn’t easy. He came through for us. He had to really belly down and run so that was good. He’s got a tremendous turn of foot. He was in a great spot and I thought that (jockey) Brian (Hernandez Jr.) rode him well and I was very pleased with his performance tonight. He’s got a great mind, a great turn of foot and he has the ability."

"I’m going to enjoy tonight, the hype around him has been unbelievable all week." Wilkes declared.  "The hype has been tremendous but I just want to enjoy this for one and map out a plan with (owner) Mrs. (Janis) Whitham and just not get ahead ourselves.”

Clay Whitham, co-owner of Mccraken explained, “He’s named after a small town in Kansas. We just drive through there a lot. It’s super exciting to have a good 2-year-old, it’s very exciting. We’ve raced a lot of nice horses but we’ve never had one that we had considered a Derby prospect since Mud Route and that was a long time ago.  

Whitham was enthusiastic, but cautious about McCraken’s future. “I believe we are getting Derby fever. Winning this race definitely gives us expectations that he’s a good horse. We’ll see how it goes. Obviously you don’t want to get too far ahead in this business, but he’s a very nice horse.”

McCraken (Ghostzapper - Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold) is a homebred racing in the silks of Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC. Ian Wilkes trains the bay colt. McCraken is now 3-3-0-0 with $190,848 in earnings and 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The colt previously captured the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill. He is the second foal and second blacktype earner out of the graded stakes placed sprinter Ivory Empress McCraken’s half brother Bondurant (War Front) is graded stakes placed on the turf.     


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Meet Laurie Ross


I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   


For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   


In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.


I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.

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