September 26, 2023

Horse-by-horse guide for Churchill Downs juvenile maidens on June 26

Turf Racing at Churchill Downs
(Coady Photo/Churchill Downs)

Analysis of Friday’s second race at Churchill Downs:

Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 1:34 p.m. ET)

#1 Miss Sky Cat — Failed to flash any early speed in her debut sprinting 5 panels at Churchill three weeks ago, but gained a ton of ground down the homestretch to finish just 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner of a $75,000 maiden claiming event. This $2,500 yearling purchase will stretch out another furlong on Friday, but is stepping up to maiden special weight company and will need to show improved tactical foot to factor against this caliber of competition.

#1A Wendy’s Fine Wine — Daughter of capable sprinter/miler Aikenite has already tackled a pair of 5-furlong sprints over this track and class level, but failed to flash any speed and was beaten by double-digit margins on both occasions. Dam Greenapple Martini has yet to produce a juvenile winner from three starters, so this $2,500 yearling will have to outrun her breeding to challenge third time out.

#2 Tiz a Bit Lucky — Showed some late interest in a 5-furlong maiden dash on May 28 at Churchill, rallying past tired rivals down the straight to finish third behind runaway winner Beautiful Memories. A half-sister to five winners (including two who won as juveniles) Tiz a Bit Lucky is a daughter of Tonalist, who is quickly gaining a reputation for siring long-winded runners. Stretching out over 6 furlongs should benefit Tiz a Bit Lucky, and the presence of apprentice jockey Thiago Canuto in the saddle means she’ll get a 10-pound break in the weights. There’s plenty to like about this $3,500 yearling.

#3 Fortuna Adiuvat — Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas conditions this chestnut filly, a Holy Cow Stables homebred who has turned in five easy workouts at Churchill Downs. A daughter of classy turf router Point of Entry and out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) champion English Channel, Fortuna Adiuvat is bred top and bottom to excel running long on grass. Throw in the fact Lukas is 0-for-104 with first-time starters since 2016, and Fortuna Adiuvat seems unlikely to show her best while debuting in a dirt sprint.

#4 Yogurt — Inexpensive $1,300 yearling finished 3 1/4 lengths clear of Tiz a Bit Lucky when forging to a runner-up effort on May 28 at Churchill, a promising effort from this daughter of Algorithms. Trainer Tommy Short wins at a solid 11% rate in maiden special weights and Yogurt breezed a quick half-mile on June 17 at The Thoroughbred Center, suggesting she can at least maintain her form second-time out. But while the 67 Brisnet Speed rating she posted on debut tops Friday’s field, it falls well short of the 86 rating typical for winners over this class level and distance.

#5 Bahama Mischief — Daughter of leading sire Into Mischief sold for $300,000, not surprising since her dam Bahama Bound—a graded stakes-placed daughter of Empire Maker—previously foaled the stakes-placed juvenile Bahama Halo. Into Mischief is North America’s most successful sire of juveniles (15% of his starters win on debut), but offsetting Bahama Mischief’s win-early breeding is the fact trainer Ian Wilkes strikes at just a 5% rate with first-time starters. Wilkes’ runners typically improve with racing, so look for Bahama Mischief to flash some potential on Friday while leaving gas in the tank for down the road.

#6 Fabricate — The second Wilkes trainee is a daughter of lightly-raced sprinter/mile Speightster out of a Scat Daddy mare, a pedigree slanted more toward speed than stamina. Speightster’s progeny have gone 1-for-5 (20%) so far and Fabricate has posted eight workouts in preparation for her first run, culminating with a quick 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5 on June 16. As with stablemate Bahama Mischief, a promising debut isn’t out of the question for Fabricate, but she’s unlikely to be cranked for a peak effort first time under colors.

#7 Midnight Cocktail — Trainer Steve Asmussen has enjoyed extraordinary success with juvenile first-time starters at Churchill Downs this meet, going 5-for-8 (63%) and saddling a runner-up for good measure. Ricardo Santana rode all five winners and will accept the mount on Midnight Cocktail, a daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner and successful sire Midnight Lute. Produced by Coral Way, a juvenile winner sired by champion sprinter Smoke Glacken, Midnight Cocktail doesn’t bring the flashiest work tab to the equation, but as a Jan. 5 foal she may have a slight maturity advantage over her rivals. Outside posts are beneficial in dirt sprints at Churchill, so this Three Chimneys Farm homebred is a deserving favorite to deliver on debut.