A field of 12 has been entered to go 1 1/2 miles over Keeneland’s turf in Saturday’s $250,000 Elkhorn Stakes (G2).
Itsinthepost headlines the group, bringing a trio of graded scores into the race, but the big story in the Elkhorn is the presence of jockey Jorge Ricardo.
Based in South America, Ricardo has ridden more winners than any jockey in Thoroughbred racing history. He’ll make his second appearance at Keeneland in this spot after finishing ninth aboard the Argentinian-bred Ordak Dan in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Ricardo, who is listed to ride Some in Tieme on Saturday, surpassed Russell Baze as the winningest jockey in February at Hipodromo da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Baze retired in 2016 with 12,842 victories.
“Some in Tieme is a Brazilian horse with Brazilian ownership, and we’ve used a Brazilian jockey (Manoel Cruz) previously on him,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “One of the owners came up with the idea of bringing Jorge here, and I thought it was a good idea.
“It’s very exciting. Jorge has won more races than any jockey in the history of the game, which is no small feat. He is getting towards the end of his career, but he is still winning high-level races.”
Some in Tieme last visited the winner’s circle taking the Louisville Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs in May 2017. That is the Shirocco bay’s only stateside win, though he is a Group 1 winner in his native Brazil and was honored as the Brazilian champion three-year-old colt in 2015-16. The six-year-old boasts four starts since his Louisville win, two of which came this year as a runner-up effort in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3) and a sixth-placing in the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2).
“(Ricardo) is scheduled to arrive Thursday,” McPeek said. “He will spend some time around the stables and at my farm (in Lexington) and then ride Some in Tieme on Saturday. He heads back to Brazil on Sunday.”
To continue adding to his already impressive resume, Ricardo will have to help Some in Tieme overcome the likes of defending champion Itsinthepost, Oscar Nominated and Hayabusa One.
Itsinthepost has captured four of his last five races, including the San Gabriel Stakes (G2), San Marcos Stakes (G2) and San Luis Rey Stakes (G2) all at Santa Anita Park this year. The only thing keeping the Jeff Mullins trainee from claiming five straight was a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf to close out his five-year-old campaign in November. Jockey Tyler Baze has been aboard Itsinthepost for the majority of his career, including a 1 1/4-length score in this race last year, and holds the reins Saturday.
Oscar Nominated makes his Keeneland debut in this spot off a fourth-place run in the March 3 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that, the chestnut ridgling captured the W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3) over that same track for trainer Mike Maker in his five-year-old bow. Oscar Nominated is no stranger to tough competition, finishing second in the Canadian International (Can-G1) at Woodbine and third in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs last year, and owns a 2-2-0 mark from four starts at the Elkhorn distance. Joel Rosario has the first-time call.
Lightly raced Hayabusa One renews his rivalry with Itsinthepost here after filling the runner-up spot behind that foe in his past two starts. Originally campaigned by trainer Graham Motion, the five-year-old chestnut wasn’t seen in action for nearly a year after running fifth in an allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita Park in February 2017. He showed back up January 13 under the tutelage of Peter Miller and captured a similar contest by three parts of a length before missing by a nose in the San Marcos and then three parts of a length in the San Luis Rey. The Siyouni five-year-old had Victor Espinoza in the irons for those latter two and the pair reunite Saturday in the Elkhorn.
Call Provision rallied furiously for a half-length second in the Red Smith Handicap (G3) last November at Aqueduct and makes his seasonal bow in the Elkhorn under Jose Ortiz. The Chad Brown-conditioned five-year-old gelding has finished worse than third only three times in his 13-race career. Dot Matrix tries stakes rivals for the first time here for trainer Brad Cox, for whom the five-year-old gelding has run up a 2-1-0 mark from three starts at Fair Grounds. The bay son of Freud began his career with Abigail Adsit racing exclusively in New York, but has improved by leaps and bounds since joining Cox’s shedrow. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.
One Go All Go sandwiched a close fourth-placing in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1) between a pair of runner-up efforts in an allowance/optional claimer and the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2) and another set of seconds in the Mac Diarmida and Pan American Stakes (G2) for trainer Charles Dickey. The six-year-old son of Fairbanks keeps regular rider Chris Landeros in the saddle here.
Bullards Alley dominated the Canadian International last year by 10 lengths at 42-1 to earn a stellar career- and field-topping 120 BRIS Speed rating. The Flower Alley gelding didn’t receive much respect off that victory when lining up at 23-1 next out in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but managed to come in sixth, beaten only 3 3/4 lengths on the wire. The Tim Glyshaw trainee closed out 2017 with a head second in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes and thus far this season has finished third by a half-length in the McKnight and fifth in the Pan American. Corey Lanerie holds the reins Saturday as Bullards Alley attempts to improve upon his sixth-placing in this race from last year.
Canessar ran worse than third only once during his 2017 campaign, with that coming in his final French race before shipping to the United States. Now trained by Arnaud Delacour, the French-bred gelding captured the Laurel Turf Cup in his stateside debut last September and went on to be third in the Sycamore Stakes (G3) on October 19 at Keeneland to complete his four-year-old season. The gray son of Kendargent returns to action off that latter event in this spot under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.
Hunter O’Riley will try to return to the form that saw him take the Bowling Green Stakes (G2) last July at Saratoga. The James Toner charge followed up with a close fourth-placing in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1), but wouldn’t be seen in action again until making his four-year-old finale in late August. On that occasion, the bay son of Tiz Wonderful could do no better than ninth in the Red Smith last out on November 11. Florent Geroux was aboard for his two efforts before that and takes back the mount.
Danish Dynaformer ran fourth in last year’s Elkhorn but made just one more start on the year, with that coming as a seventh-placing in the Louisville Handicap last May. The Roger Attfield-trained six-year-old returned to action with a subpar last-of-11 run in the Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) on March 24 at Fair Grounds and gets Robby Albarado in the irons for this one. Big Bend captured the Sycamore last year at Keeneland but has been well-beaten in three starts since. Gary Stevens rides for trainer Tom Proctor as the Union Rags four-year-old attempts to rebound off a double-digit loss in the Mac Diarmida last out.