Opening Day at Churchill Downs’ fall meet is in the books, and the first of two Stars of Tomorrow all-two-year-old race cards of the season turned out to be quite a spectacle of juvenile talent filled with horses who we will be hearing a lot more from in the not-too-distant future. Read below for a race-by race rundown of the highlights of the 11-race card.
Stars of Tomorrow I Big Winners:
- Halo Again, a $600k Steve Asmussen first starter out of a productive mare crushed maidens.
- Answer In, graduated with ease in second career start after losing by a nose to stakes winner South Bend.
- Finite, won the $120k Rags to Riches Stakes for trainer Steve Asmussen, and now owns big wins sprinting on turf and going a mile on the dirt.
- South Bend, won the $120k Street Sense Stakes, pushing his career record to 3-for-3 for trainer Stan Hough.
- Trainers Steve Asmussen, Tom Amoss, and Ian Wilkes each won two races on the card. Trainer Chris Block is red hot, winning his fourth race from his last 5 starters.
- Speed horses in two-turn dirt races went wire-to-wire to win 3 of the 4 Churchill dirt routes on Sunday. The other early leader finished second.
Stars of Tomorrow I horses to watch:
- Recklessness, came in with underrated form from Arlington for trainer Ingrid Mason and took to the dirt with a good effort for second behind a sharp-looking Asmussen first-out winner.
- Silver Prospector, dueled for the lead into the stretch fighting off multiple challengers on a solid mile pace and finally settled for third behind a pair of perfect-trip stalkers. Remains a threat up at the stakes level.
- Fighting Seabee, already a graded stakes winner on the turf in the With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga, and now stakes-placed on the dirt with a good second in the Street Sense. Must respect wherever he shows up next.
- Never Forget, settled for second to the favorite in career debut but had a brutal trip and was steadied, blocked, bothered, and probably best that day. Won’t remain a maiden for long.
Stars of Tomorrow Race-by-race Rundown
The day started out with a maiden special weight one-mile turf win for EMILY’S GOLD, who previously had run second in a turf mile race at Ellis and then finished third behind Finite over 6 1/2 furlongs at Kentucky Downs. Finite returned later on the Stars of Tomorrow card to win the Rags to Riches Stakes, and in hindsight this Ian Wilkes trainee was a giant overlay at 4-1, paying $10.20 to win to begin the card.
HIS GLORY dropped into this allowance spot at 1 1/16 miles on the main track after competitive stakes efforts including a second in the Pocahontas (G2) at the same distance at Churchill Downs. His Glory cruised to a 4 1/2-length win for trainer Tom Amoss, and somehow wasn’t even the favorite, paying $5.80 to win as the overlay second choice. The chalk, MOTU, trained by Ken McPeek, ran a solid second while nine lengths clear of the third horse in the stretchout from a sprint to a route, and seems to be sitting on the maiden win going long or short next time.
Steve Asmussen first starter HALO AGAIN looked like the real deal in her 4 1/4-length blowout win at first asking going seven furlongs. By Speightstown, this $600k yearling purchase became the fifth winner from five starters for the dam, Halo’s Verse, and this is a colt that could have a bright future ahead. The other story in this race was runner-up finisher RECKLESSNESS, who came in with underrated form from Arlington on turf and Polytrack for trainer Ingrid Mason, but who took the dirt with a good effort for second at 18-1 and should not be overlooked again back in a similar spot.
SHE CAN’T SING was yet another overlooked invader with overlooked Arlington form, who began her career with a near-miss runner-up finish on the grass at Arlington and then went off as a huge 11-1 overlay in this maiden special weight race after losing at Keeneland last time out after drawing post 12 out in the parking lot for trainer Chris Block. Block wins 23% going turf-to-dirt, and as was noted in the Brisnet Ultimate PPs, Block was red hot coming into the race with wins from 3 out of last 4 starters. She Can’t Sing crushed the field by seven lengths and should be followed back on the dirt. Bridesmaid type TEMPERS RISING finished second for the third time in four career outs, and is still in search of the maiden win.
Longshot OFF THE MEDS gave trainer Ian Wilkes his second maiden special weight win on the card by taking this one-mile turf race by a length over GOLD ENDEAVOR trained by Helen Pitts. The big story in this race was the flop by 3-5 favorite BLOOD MOON, trained by Rodolphe Brisset, who showed some speed but tired to fourth with no excuse.
The prices continued to roll in as ALCOOLS trained by Peter Miller benefited from a stretchout to a route to score and pay $14.20 to win this N1X allowance race wire-to-wire by six lengths on an uncontested lead.
ANSWER IN delivered at 1-2 odds for trainer Brad Cox as the lowest odds favorite on the 11-race card, coming from far off the pace to win this maiden special weight race easily by 5+ lengths. His career debut nose defeat behind repeat next-out winner and stakes-bound South Bend pointed out Answer In as the prohibitive favorite in this seven-furlong maiden race, and he did not disappoint.
Yet another big-priced longshot benefited from a maiden special weight stretchout and cashed-in in this race as the Al Stall-trained SHARECROPPER exited an eighth-place sprint debut to win at second asking at a price. By Pioneerof the Nile out of a stakes-winning daughter of Curlin, it’s no wonder the added distance made all the difference for this horse, who paid $41.40 to win. SOUNION, trained by Brian Lynch, tried to become the fourth wire-to-wire winner of the day’s four main track a 1 1/16-mile races, but could not hold off the winner and settled for second.
In the Rags to Riches stakes at one mile on the main track, Steve Asmussen’s FINITE really emerged as an up-and-coming versatile talent after her breakthrough maiden win last time out at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf at Kentucky Downs. Now you can add a six-length dirt mile win to her resume. It was a long way back to runner-up LADY GLAMOUR, trained by Larry Demeritte at 20-1 who rounded out a $103.40 exacta, and it was even further back to third-place finisher GONE GLIMMERING who outran 14-1 odds for third, but nevertheless beaten 12 lengths for trainer Tom Amoss.
In the Street Sense stakes, winner SOUTH BEND made it a perfect 3-for-3 to begin his career with another workmanlike score by a length in his stakes debut for trainer Stan Hough. After the horse he edged last time out, Answer In, destroyed maidens earlier on the card, it was South Bend’s time to shine, holding off Ken McPeek’s runner-up, FIGHTING SEABEE, who himself is already a graded stakes winner and certainly no slouch. We’ll be hearing from Fighting Seabee again. The Street Sense was his career dirt debut after three starts and two wins on turf including Saratoga’s With Anticipation (G3), making him a multi-surface threat wherever they decide to point the horse next time out. Another horse to watch out of this race will be third-place finisher SILVER PROSPECTOR, who had to duel for the lead into the stretch while fending off multiple challengers on a solid pace. He remains a threat back in a similar stakes spot next time.
The day ended with a seven-furlong maiden special weight race on the main track, and the Tom Amoss-trained favorite BEAUTIFUL TRAUMA took care of business for the win, but not without some help from some really bad luck by the second-place finisher, NEVER FORGET, who was probably best but had a brutal trip when steadied, blocked and bothered, in her career debut. She won’t remain a maiden for long.
Stay tuned for the second of two Stars of Tomorrow cards at Churchill Downs coming up on Saturday, Nov. 30.