The 131st fall meet at Churchill Downs begins Sunday with the 16th annual “Stars of Tomorrow I” program.
A pair of $98,000 overnight stakes, the Street Sense S. for males and Rags to Riches S. for fillies, highlight the 11-race program devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds. The 1 1/16-mile races serve as preps for the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) and Golden Rod S. (G2) on the Nov. 28 “Stars of Tomorrow II” program.
Churchill will offer 10 stakes, including eight graded events, worth a combined $1.796 million during the fall meet.
Super Stock, who exits thirds in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Iroquois (G3), tops seven runners in the Street Sense. The Dialed In colt earned a field-best 86 Brisnet Speed rating when breaking his maiden three starts back, and Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call for Steve Asmussen.
King Fury, a sharp 2 3/4-length winner over maiden special weight foes the first time out at Churchill on Sept. 3, is eligible to improve upon an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Futurity. Brian Hernandez Jr. will be up for Kenny McPeek. The field also includes four debut maiden winners – Arabian Prince, Crime Spree, Eucharist, and Oncoming Train.
In the nine-horse Rags to Riches, Midnight Ballerina could be the one to beat following a superb unveiling under the Twin Spires on Sept. 17. The Stoneway Farm homebred Mineshaft filly rated just off the pace before launching an eye-catching turn of foot into the stretch, quickly seizing control, and won in hand by a length. Julien Leparoux rides for Bill Mott.
A pair of last-out maiden winners at Churchill, Lady Traveler and Salty as Can Be, merit serious respect for Dale Romans and Mark Casse, respectively. Malibu Bird adds Tyler Gaffalione following a game wire-to-wire maiden tally at Keeneland for Norm Casse. Stakes-placed Oliviaofthedesert, fifth most recently in the Alciabides (G1), is also entered.