Nine juvenile colts whose connections harbor Kentucky Derby dreams are expected to go to post Saturday in an intriguing edition of the Grade 2, $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.
Instant Coffee, a lightly raced son of Bolt d’Oro trained by Brad Cox, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the 1 1/6-mile race for 2-year-olds, a Derby qualifier offering points to the top five finishers (10-4-3-2-1). Estimated post time for the 11th race on the 12-race card is 5:56 p.m. EST. The race will be broadcast on FanDuel TV.
The Kentucky Jockey Club has produced seven horses who went on to win the Run for the Roses the following year, a double most recently accomplished by Super Saver in 2009-2010. But in recent years, other paths to the Derby starting gate have proven more productive.
Instant Coffee, who will be ridden for the second race in a row by Luis Saez, won at first asking, rallying from off the pace to take down a maiden special weight race at Saratoga on Sept. 3 under jockey Dylan Davis. He earned a solid 85 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Cox immediately vaulted the colt into the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, where he raced far back early but mounted a late rally to finish fourth, seven lengths behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Forte. He finished a head behind the Steve Asmussen-trained Red Route One in that race for the show spot, one of his rivals in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Curly Jack (3-1) could vie for favoritism with the morning line choice. Trained by Tom Amoss, the son of Good Magic has won two of his five starts. After breaking his maiden in first start in a 5 1/2-furlong race at Churchill Downs, he returned to win the Iroquois Stakes over the Churchill track on Sept. 17 before returning to run fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Freedom Trail (6-1) ships in from New York for trainer John Terranova with a two-for-two record, both on the turf. The son of Collected appears to have decent breeding for the dirt, however, and Terranova has won the Kentucky Jockey Club before, with Kubeir in 2014, The presence of jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle adds to the appeal.
Here is a look at the field for the 2022 Kentucky Jockey Club (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:
1. Curly Jack (Tom Amoss, Edgar Morales), 3-1
2. Western Ghent (D. Wayne Lukas, Mickaelle Michel), 20-1
3. Denington (Ken McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr.), 12-1
4. Gigante (Steve Asmussen, Corey Lanerie), 12-1
5. Red Route One (Steve Asmussen, Tyler Gaffalione), 7-2
6. Freedom Trail (John Terranova, Florent Geroux), 6-1
7. Hayes Strike (Ken McPeek, Rafael Bejarano), 10-1
8. Instant Coffee (Brad Cox, Luis Saez), 5-2
9. Cyclone Mischief (Dale Romans, Joe Talamo), 8-1
TimeformUS' pace projections show Curly Jack, Western Ghent and Cyclone Mischief contending for the early lead in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Visit Horse Racing Nation’s free past performances page for more information on the Kentucky Jockey Club field.
Other Saturday stakes
Here is a look at other graded stakes races scheduled Saturday across the U.S. and Canada. Post times are EST.
2:22 p.m. - $111,800 Grey Stakes (G3), 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles (all weather), Woodbine, FanDuel TV
Hal, the 9-5 morning line favorite, will seek his third win in as many starts in the this juvenile stakes, which will have either six or seven runners, depending on whether the filly Forever Dixie runs here or in the Mazarine Stakes later on the card. Hal, a Darwin Banach trainee, made a strong debut in a maiden score on the Tapeta track on Oct. 2 and an equally impressive encore in the Display Stakes on Nov. 5. His main competition in the field of six may come from Bluebirds Over (7-2), an impressive debut winner at one mile and 70 yards over the synthetic track at Gulfstream on Nov. 5 for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.
3:14 p.m. - $175,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3), 3-year-olds and up, six furlongs, Aqueduct, FanDuel TV
The consistent Runninsonofagun (2-1), winner of the Bold Ruler (G3) at Aqueduct in his last start, will look to make it two in a row against six older, more experienced rivals in what should be a good betting race. The 3-year-old, trained by John Toscano Jr. and ridden by Carmouche, is likely to vie for favoritism in the wagering with co-highweight Factor It In (3-1), trained by Carlos Mancilla with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle. Both horses will carry 132 pounds, one more than the 131 to be lugged by the Steve Asmussen-trained Jaxon Traveler (6-1) and two more than the 130 assigned to third morning line choice, Greeley and Ben (9-2).
3:43 p.m. - $300,000 Red Smith (G2), 3-year-olds and up, 1 3/8 mile (turf), Aqueduct, FanDuel TV
Soldier Rising (5-2), a 4-year-old son of Frankel trained by Christophe Clement, heads a full and contentious field of 12, with two also-eligibles awaiting any defections. The gelding just missed in the Red Smith last year, beaten a half-length by Serve the King while checking in third. His more fancied rivals include the Chad Brown-trained Balthus (9-2), a troubled fifth in last month’s Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland, and Highest Honors (5-1), another Brown trainee who was third in the same race.
5:27 p.m. - $400,000 Golden Rod (G2), 2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 mile, Churchill Downs, FanDuel TV
Hoosier Philly, unbeaten in two starts, is the even money morning line favorite in the field of 10 2-year-old lasses expected to go to post in this qualifier for the Kentucky Oaks, which like the Kentucky Jockey Club will award points to the top five finishers (10-4-3-2-1). The Tom Amoss-trained gray daughter of Into Mischief captured her Sept. 25 debut in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs, then came back to dominate the $200,000 Rags to Riches in the slop by 7 1/2 lengths, “splash(ing) away while playfully changing her leads through the final furlong,” in the words of the chart caller. On paper, her main competition appears to be the also undefeated Godolphin filly Pretty Mischievous (5-2), a Brendan Walsh trainee who also boasts two wins under the spires, though both were around one turn.
5:51 p.m. - $111,800 Mazarine Stakes (G3), 2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 mile (all weather), Woodbine, FanDuel TV
If she runs here, the Mark Casse-trained Forever Dixie (2-1) will vie for favoritism at the betting windows with stablemate Renegade Rebel (3-1) and the Saffie Joseph Jr. conditioned Honor D Lady (5-2) in the distaff companion of the Grey Stakes. All seven runners entered have only maiden wins to their credit.
6:30 p.m. - $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2), 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles (turf), FanDuel TV
Another Brendan Walsh-trained runner, multiple Grade 1 winner Santin (3-1), looms the probable post time favorite in the days final graded stakes. The 4-year-old winner of the Arlington Million on Aug. 13 and the Turf Classic on May 7, both Grade 1s run at Churchill Downs, will attempt to avenge a neck loss in the last years Hollywood Derby (G1) to Beyond Brilliant (4-1), who he’ll face again in the Seabiscuit. Also in the nine-horse field is the speedy and consistent Smooth Like Strait (4-1), who comes in off a rare off-the-board finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
6:45 p.m. - $100,000 Berkeley Handicap (G3), 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles (all weather), FanDuel TV
Imgonnabesomebody, who captured the Joseph T. Grace Stakes at Golden Gate in his last start on Nov. 5, is the 9-5 favorite in the final graded stakes of the day. The Bill McLean-trained gelding heads a field of five, including second choice Freeport Joe (2-1), winner of eight of 21 starts for trainer Gloria Haley.