A collaborative effort by Vance Hanson, James Scully, Keeler Johnson, John Mucciolo, and Nicolle Neulist.
The 16th annual Stars of Tomorrow I at Churchill Downs begins on Sunday, October 25 features a day full of juvenile racing where two-year-olds take center stage. Our experts weigh in with concise descriptions on each contender in each race!
The cornerstone of Sunday’s races are the Street Sense Stakes and the Rags to Riches Stakes.
Please click on a race in the list below to jump to the field of runners accompanied by their brief synopsis from our experts.
Churchill Downs – Race 1 – $150,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile
#1 MAHOMES MONEY : A son of hot young sire Not This Time, Mahomes Money has yet to finish better than fifth in three starts, though on the bright side his best effort came in his lone start beyond a mile. Dropping down from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company could trigger improvement for Mahomes Money, and trainer Dale Romans strikes at a 20% rate with runners stretching out from a sprint to a route.
#2 LOAD UP MOE : Debuted over this class level and distance on Sept. 27 at Churchill Downs, but trailed the field early and rallied only mildly to split the field in fifth place. Adding blinkers could sharpen Load Up Moe’s speed, and he’s certainly been alert in recent workouts, blazing a bullet half-mile in :47 1/5 on Oct. 10. A step forward isn’t out of the question.
#3 TENTH OF GOLD : January foal debuted for a $50,000 tag sprinting 6 furlongs at Churchill, rallying after a slow start to finish third by 1 3/4 lengths. Stepping sharply up the class ladder is a tough ask, but Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen strikes at a 25% rate when making this move, and a quick 5-furlong workout from the starting gate adds on Oct. 15 is encouraging.
#4 BIG UNION : Sold for $260,000 as a yearling, Big Union has run well twice against maiden special weight company on turf, finishing second at Indiana Grand and fourth at Kentucky Downs. As a son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags out of a Munnings mare, Big Union has the pedigree to handle dirt for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, who strikes at a 29% rate with horses descending from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company. With hot jockey Florent Geroux aboard, Big Union looms as the runner to beat.
#5 APPRAISAL : After failing to challenge in a 5-furlong maiden special weight, Appraisal stretched out to mile and dropped in for a $150,000 tag at Churchill Downs, where he ran evenly from a tracking position to finish third. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee fired off a sharp half-mile workout on Oct. 14 and figures to be prominent from the outset on Sunday, but he’ll need a step forward to challenge for victory.
#6 COOL RAGS : Son of Union Rags has broken slowly and failed to challenge in his two starts to date, but trainer Bret Calhoun wins at a 27% rate with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, so perhaps the third time will be the charm for Cool Rags. He’s shown plenty of speed in morning workouts and will add blinkers for Sunday’s test, so if the headgear sharpens his focus and produces a cleaner break, a significant step forward could be in the offing.
#7 MAN ON THE MOON : Well-bred son of Distorted Humor failed to challenge when debuting in a 7-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, weakening steadily to finish ninth by a wide margin. Facing easier company opens the door for a stronger finish, especially since trainer Steve Margolis wins at a 29% rate with maiden special weight runners dropping down to the claiming ranks. But Man On the Moon will need substantial improvement to fight for first prize.
#8 POLLARD’S DAY : A son of Tapiture (who sires 17% debut winners) out of Private Idaho (who has foaled eight winners from nine starters), Pollard’s Day brings a productive pedigree to the equation. But his work tab is relatively light, and trainer Kenny McPeek strikes at just a 7% rate with first-time starters, suggesting Pollard’s Day might benefit from getting a race under his belt.
#9 BIRD RULER : A classily-bred son of Empire Maker out of a stakes-placed Indian Charlie mare, Bird Ruler looks live for trainer Norm Casse, who wins at a 21% rate with horses debuting in maiden claiming events. A Marylou Whitney Stables homebred, Bird Ruler breezed a bullet 5 furlongs from the Keeneland starting gate in :59 2/5 on Oct. 1, and hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione picks up the mount. If anyone can challenge Big Union, Bird Ruler is surely the one.
By Keeler Johnson
Churchill Downs – Race 2 – Maiden Special Weight, Fillies, 7 furlongs
#1 MAKEAJOYFULNOISE : Daughter of Dialed In failed to challenge when finishing sixth in her debut dashing 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland, though she ran into trouble on a couple of occasions and might have fared better with a clean run. Post 1 is winning at a 22% rate in 7-furlong sprints, but trainer Christopher Davis (an 18% winner overall) strikes at just a 9% rate with second-time starters, so it’s unclear how much of a step forward we can expect from Makeajoyfulnoise.
#2 SHASTALOO : Hot trainer Brad Cox wins at a 27% rate with second-time starters, so Shastaloo figures to take a step forward off her encouraging runner-up effort on debut at Ellis Park. The bay filly flashed tracking speed in a 7-furlong sprint before finishing clearly second-best with an 81 Brisnet Speed rating, not far off the 83 par figure for Sunday’s class level and distance. Sold for $120,000 earlier this year, Shastaloo picks up jockey Florent Geroux (a 27% winner when teaming up with Cox) and is clearly the horse to beat.
#3 SHE’S SO CALI : $160,000 weanling purchase has tried her hand on both dirt and turf without success, finishing sixth and fifth in her first two starts sprinting. A half-sister to 2019 Remsen (G2) winner Shotski, She’s So Cali has a bit of tactical speed, but her better effort came on grass and the return to dirt seems unlikely to trigger improvement.
#4 ROOKERY : A daughter of Hard Spun out of a Bernardini mare, this $360,000 yearling purchase is bred to excel running a mile or farther, so it’s not surprising her best effort from three starts came in her route debut at Churchill Downs. The cutback to 7 furlongs might not be ideal, but Rookery has never missed the board and add blinkers for her fourth start, a successful move 24% of the time for trainer Wayne Catalano. If Rookery shows improved tactical speed with the addition of headgear, she can fight for another top-four finisher.
#5 PLATINUM SKY : Dallas Stewart trainee debuted in a 6-furlong sprint at Keeneland, but never rallied after a slow start and finished ninth of ten. She’s come back to breeze a bullet half-mile in :47 3/5, easily her sharpest workout to date and potentially a sign of better things to come. But in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Platinum Sky needs a big step forward to vie for a spot on the board.
#6 SILK AND SUGAR : Raced a bit greenly in her debut dashing 6 furlongs at Keeneland, but nevertheless rallied to finish second, eight lengths clear of Platinum Sky. Trainer Ian Wilkes rarely wins with first-time starters, so this Brereton C. Jones homebred is eligible to improve after starting at 40-1 in her first run. She’ll have to, since she ranks a cut below the favorites on the Brisnet Speed rating scale.
#7 BEST CAUSE : A first-time starter from the barn of Kenny McPeek, Best Cause brings a series of slow workouts to her debut and might benefit from getting a race under her belt. As a daughter of 2012 Preakness (G1) third-place finisher Creative Cause out of a mare by Unbridled’s Song, Best Cause has the pedigree to develop into an effective route runner, so Sunday’s test looks more like a starting point than anything else.
#8 ARMY WIFE : A son of hot young sire Declaration of War, Army Wife has run evenly in her first three runs on turf, and the 84 Brisnet Speed rating she threw down when finishing third at Saratoga actually tops this field. Racing for the hot jockey/trainer team of Tyler Gaffalione and Mike Maker, Army Wife will be a force to reckon with if she handles the transition to dirt, though the fact Declaration of War’s best progeny prefer turf is cause for pause.
#9 LADY COMMANDER : The second daughter of Declaration of War in this competitive field, Lady Commander is already experienced over the Churchill Downs main track, rallying after a slow beginning to finish fourth in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden sprint. A clean break on Sunday could produce a stronger effort, though the 59 Brisnet Speed rating Lady Commander posted on debut indicates she has a lot of form to find against this caliber of competition.
By Keeler Johnson
Churchill Downs – Race 3 – Maiden Special Weight, Fillies, 7 furlongs
#1 MALLOY : In a race where none of the experienced runners have reached the 83 Brisnet Speed rating par for this class and distance, Malloy has an opportunity to vie for victory. The Wayne Catalno trainee ran evenly to finish fifth in her debut sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, a race that produced Rags to Riches S. entrant Midnight Ballerina and next-out winner Littlestitious. After breezing a bullet half-mile in :47 4/5 on Oct. 12, Malloy appears poised for a step forward in her second start.
#2 YARMONY : A Whitman Thoroughbreds homebred, Yarmony brings a modest series of slow workouts to her debut for Ian Wilkes, a 6% winner with first-time starters. Yarmony’s sire, Fort Larned, peaked as a 4-year-old when nabbing the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Whitney (G1), so even though hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione is named to ride, Yarmony seems unlikely to fire her best shot first-time out.
#3 GRACE’S SECRET : A daughter of juvenile graded stakes winner Cairo Prince, Grace’s Secret showed promise in her Aug. 15 debut at Ellis Park, running evenly to finish third in a 5-furlong sprint. Trainer Michael Puhich wins at a 20% rate with second-time starters, but Grace’s Secret’s recent work tab is a bit spotty, so it’s hard to know what to expect from this $17,000 yearling purchase.
#4 ZARELLA : A Godolphin homebred conditioned by Eoin Harty, Zarella turned in an encouraging effort on debut at Hawthorne, rallying to finish second in a small field. But the 66 Brisnet Speed rating she posted is light even by the standards of Sunday’s modest field, so the daughter of Ghostzapper will need another gear to challenge against tougher company at Churchill Downs.
#5 PRINCESS LEA : Sold for just $37,000 as a yearling, Princess Lea has cracked the trifecta in her first three starts on both dirt and turf, culminating with a runner-up effort sprinting 6 furlongs at Churchill Downs. With a trio of Brisnet Speed ratings in the 74-78, Princess Lea is clearly the fastest filly on paper and appears to be catching an easier field for her fourth run. Trainer Joe Sharp has been hot at Churchill Downs, striking at a 21% rate, and he’s gone 2-for-5 (40%) when teaming up with jockey Brian Hernandez over the last 60 days. Any way you slice it, Princess Lea is the filly to beat.
#6 FAMILY TIME : A daughter of Not This Time trained by Dale Romans, Family Time has steadily improved her Brisnet Speed ratings across three starts, though she’s yet to finish better than sixth while starting at odds of 23-1, 42-1, and 64-1. After failing to flash tactical speed sprinting, Family Time set the pace when stretching out over 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 3 at Keeneland, an encouraging step in the right direction. Another jump forward while cutting back in distance could put Family Time in the hunt for a piece of the purse.
#7 ALTERED SHOT : In her debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Churchill Downs, this $28,000 yearling purchase rallied mildly to finish third, just 1 3/4 lengths behind Princess Lea (see above). Sire Alternation and grandsire Proud Citizen were both capable route runners, so Altered Shot should enjoy stretching out over another furlong on Sunday. With a 71 Brisnet Speed rating under her belt, she’s already quick enough to be in the hunt and doesn’t need a big jump to reach even terms with Princess Lea.
#8 WILD COMBO : Sold for $360,000 as a weanling, Wild Combo turned in a solid effort over this track and distance on Sept. 23, finishing second behind Rags to Riches S. entrant Orsetto while favored at 1-1. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen wins at a 26% rate with horses beaten as the favorite in their previous start, and Asmussen’s go-to jockey Ricardo Santana retains the mount, suggesting this daughter of Into Mischief has the best chance to upset Princess Lea.
#9 WINZE : Daughter of Mineshaft finished third by 1 1/2 lengths in her debut racing a mile at Churchill Downs, but that effort came in a $50,000 maiden claiming race, and Winze will be stepping up in class for Sunday’s test. Sharp workouts suggest this Helen Pitts trainee is maintaining good form, but she’ll need a step forward under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel to challenge against this caliber of competition.
By Keeler Johnson
Churchill Downs – Race 4 – Maiden Special Weight, 5 Furlongs Turf
#1 HILLBILLY LOGIC : debuts from the tough rail gate for 30% debut trainer Wesley Ward, well-known for his early-season two-year-olds but less potent and often overbet in later-season two-year-old races. Sire Elusive Quality is a smart 16% with juvenile first-timers; Hillbilly Logic is the first foal out of a mare who broke her maiden second-out at two, in a six-furlong turf sprint.
#2 DARK TIMBER : debuted October 3 at Keeneland, tracking the pace and fading to last in a dirt sprint. Trainer Jack Sisterson has been doing well with rider Adam Beschizza, though his two-year-olds often need even more than two starts to find their strides. He is by Mineshaft out of the nice dirt sprinter Winning Image; it’s a good sprint to middle distance pedigree, but more aligned with dirt.
#3 SKIP TEWMEY : debuts for Darrin Miller, only a 4% debut trainer. Sire Skipshot is an underrated turf sire, though his progeny do far better with age and distance than in juvenile sprints. She is the first starter out of the Maybry’s Boy mare Sweet Moon, a modest dirt sprinter in New York who did not break her maiden until sixth asking and was well beaten in her only turf attempt.
#4 MR. ESTES : makes his first start. His trainer Jason Cook has been off the board with all his juvenile first-time starters in the last five years. Sire Magician is an 11% winner first-time turf, though his runners have been far better in turf routes than turf sprints; dam Hoosier Kitten’s only win came in a maiden claiming dirt route in her ninth start, and none of her four runners have hit the board first-out.
#5 SPICY MARG : is the experienced one from the Wesley Ward barn. A filly facing boys again, she showed five-furlong speed in his off-turf debut in the Tyro Stakes, and then showed a stalking gear on grass second-out, though couldn’t reel the top two in. She keeps jockey Gerardo Corrales from that last race, a positive since Corrales is 8-for-34 (and 17-for-34 in the money) with Ward in the last two months.
#6 SPEND BENJAMINS : debuted for trainer Kelsey Danner in a turf dash at Arlington but never kicked on; her second race, a turf mile at Indiana Grand, showed her setting the pace before fading out in the lane. Danner shines at a price with runners going sprint-route-sprint, and if Spend Benjamins can build on that debut he figures for a share at a big price.
#7 SIDETOWN : showed pace before fading to fifth in his debut at Churchill on September 27; he shortens up a furlong and switches to dirt. Trainer Randy Morse doesn’t win often with either second-time starters or first-time turf winners. Sire Twirling Candy is rock-solid in these circumstances, 17% with two-year-olds and 15% with turf sprints. His dam Diva’s Seastar, a two-turn grass horse, has one turf sprint winner from five starters, and one two-year-old winner.
#8 NITRO TOWN : debuts for Brian Lynch, a 9% winner with first-time starters. Typically, his two-year-olds need a start or two; if they do win, they tend to be prices. Nitro Time gets perennial leading Churchill rider Corey Lanerie, who has been getting some live ones for Lynch lately. On pedigree, he is by 14% debut juvenile sire Munnings out of a mare who won her debut at three, and whose two runners both showed some juvenile ability. Demand a price, but Nitro Town has potential.
#9 INVINCIBILITY : makes his second start for trainer Steve Asmussen and his “A” jockey Ricardo Santana, a top-notch two-year-old pair at Churchill Downs. As good as Steve Asmussen is first-out, he’s a 21% winner with second-time starters. Invincibility gained mildly for fourth on debut at Kentucky Downs, a track that can be taxing for to first-time starters. With several of the experienced runners already showing early speed, this son of American Pharoah may get plenty to run at late this time.
#10 EL CASADORA : has the most experience by far, wish six starts already. Two have come on grass; in turf sprints at both Ellis and Kentucky Downs, he tracked the pace before backing up. Though he has yet to try the Churchill dirt, he still needs to take a serious step forward to run a race that matches some of the better experienced horses.
#11 CLARESTOWN : is first on the also-eligible list. She has run twice at Arlington, both times in turf sprints — an interesting move for trainer Chris Block, who sends almost all of his lightly-raced turf horses (even juveniles) long. Her debut was solid; she tracked the pace, got caught tight midstretch, and flattened out. She showed more speed second-out, as the heavy favorite, but flattened. Adding blinkers, she should be fast enough to be forward from the outside if she draws in.
#12 LOYAL LOUIE : is two deep on the also-eligible list. He debuted for trainer Anthony Quartarolo in a turf dash at Churchill in September, running a flattening fourth. It was good enough to show he can handle the footing and to suggest he may be better than that $6,000 auction ticket suggests. On pedigree, sire Country Day is a smart 16% with his turf sprinters; dam Dreamcometrue could run on either turf or dirt but preferred going longer. Her other starter missed the board in all four starts at two.
#13 COACH HUDSON : is three deep on the also-eligible list. He debuts for Donald Campbell, who is only 1 for his last 34 with first-time starters; that one winner was a two-year-old at Ellis last year. He is by Arkansas stallion Icon Ike, a Yes It’s True son whose nine starters include one first-time winner in a turf dash; his only previous two-year-old starter ran third on debut but didn’t break his maiden until the middle of his three-year-old year. He is the first starter out of the Strong Hope mare Shelly’s Hope, who broke her maiden on debut at two in a dirt sprint.
#14 KING OF THE NILE : is four deep on the also-eligible list. If he draws in, this $140K yearling would make his debut for trainer Robertino Diodoro, who is better with older debut runners than juveniles. Diodoro and jockey David Cohen have been excellent together, 24% winners and 66% in the money over the last two months. The pedigree is a mixed bag for winning on debut. Sire Empire Maker is only 9% with debut two-year-olds. Dam Palooza was a precocious juvenile, but only one of her five starters has been as precocious.
#15 ULTIMATE : is entered for main track only, and would need a sharp change in the weather forecast to draw in. If he does? The outlook is good. He made up some position on debut in a six-furlong sprint, never threatening the top two but getting up for third. A wet track would suit beautifully; he is by 21% off-track sire Speightstown, and the first starter out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare who hit the board in her only try over an off track. Between this and Asmussen’s strong record with second-start juveniles, Ultimate figures if this race washes off the lawn.
By Nicolle Neulist
Churchill Downs – Race 5 – Allowance Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles
#1 LAST SAMURAI : didn’t show much on debut over this course and distance, though looked better and more mature when he cut back to seven furlongs second-out. With some other speed in this race, a tracking trip like he got in the maiden win may work out nicely again if he can settle going this longer distance. The pedigree works for two turns, as he is by Malibu Moon out of a First Samurai mare who loved a mile and a sixteenth and whose other winner won at a mile. Even with that upside, demand a price on him; he needs another step forward to match the tougher entrants.
#2 NOTABLE EXCEPTION : romped on debut in a seven-furlong sprint at Arlington; he was well bet in the American Pharoah (G1) off of that effort but started slowly and finished last. He still has to prove that he can be as good on dirt as he is on synthetic, but being by Street Sense out of an A. P. Indy mare with progeny who have won going long on both turf and dirt, it makes sense to try him again in a dirt route now that he is dropping down from Grade 1 company. He also has to prove himself in the pace scenario; with other speed drawn in, he will have to vie and stay on, like he did in that maiden win, or he’ll have to prove he can rate.
#3 SUPERMAN SHAQ : ships out easy after a second-out maiden win at Del Mar. Peter Miller has made a point of shipping live horses to Kentucky in recent years. And, though it is Superman Shaq’s first try at two turns, the mile and a sixteenth should pose no problem for this Shackleford half-brother to champion Monomoy Girl. The biggest question with Superman Shaq will be how he handles the distance with other speed to battle; the maiden win bodes well, but it’s a question worth asking given the short price.
#4 MEISTER : debuted with a dirt sprint win at Ellis; he then stalked closer to the pace when stepping up to the mile at Keeneland, then flattened out to third, eight and three quarters lengths behind the winner and four and a quarter behind Ultimate Badger, who he faces again in this. Trainer Ian Wilkes tends to come well primed with his two-year-olds at the Fall meet at Churchill, and Meister is bred top and bottom for this further step up in trip. He must improve to contend, but between the pedigree and the barn’s record with two-year-olds at this meet in recent years, he has upside.
#5 NOTARY : is the grizzled old man of the field, with four starts behind him. He broke his maiden second-out in a dirt mile at Ellis but has been well beaten in all three of his other starts. He has some upside on the class drop, as both of his starts against winners have come in graded stakes races. His pedigree fits the distance well and he has shown tactical speed, but he still needs to improve and D. Wayne Lukas has hardly been a two-year-old powerhouse in recent years.
#6 STAYIN’ OUT LATE : cedes experience, the only one coming straight from a debut win to this race. He sparkled on debut, setting a cozy pace and taking a bit of contention on the turn before running clear in the lane. The race came back live, with both the second- and third-place finishers returning to win maiden specials at Keeneland. Trainer Steve Asmussen excels with last-out maiden winners. His pedigree also weighs in his favor, as he is by Tapit out of a mare who has four route winners. As an option to beat the chalk from California, Stayin’ Out Late appeals.
#7 ULTIMATE BADGER : won a dirt sprint on debut; he never factored next out in the Iroquois but chased on for second when dropped back down to allowance company October 3 at Keeneland. With several runners in this field who are stretching out from sprints, the pace stands to be honest, and Ultimate Badger stands to get a good stalking trip. Being by the long-winded Commissioner out of a mare from the extended family of Point Given and Dignitas, it would be no surprise for the extra sixteenth of a mile to help Ultimate Badger improve further.
By Nicolle Neulist
Churchill Downs – Race 6 – Maiden Special Weight, Fillies, 1 1/16 miles
#1 GOOD PENNY : Has lost ground in the final furlong in all three of her prior starts, an ominous trait as she stretches out around two turns for the first time; has already finished behind a couple rivals with arguably stronger claims and perhaps would fare better against softer.
#2 LEN LO LADY : Turned in a much better effort in her two-turn debut at Keeneland earlier this month, crashing the tri at 68-1; Albarado, who turned in one of the best rides of his career aboard Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness (G1), could have this filly similarly placed in the early stages and she looks like a contender with continued progress.
#3 JAIL HOUSE CODE : Has made little impact in two tries so far; best hope is for this her to appreciate the stretch-out to two turns, although she loses Bejarano; dam is a full sister to Grade 1 winners Hard Spun and Daaher, but a longshot here to completely reverse form.
#4 EASY SILENCE : Seattle shipper surprised when a rallying second against colts in the Gottstein Futurity, Emerald Downs’ signature race for juveniles; while the competition on this circuit is of higher quality, the drop from stakes to a maiden is a plus; offspring of Constitution have generally proven precocious, and she’s also out of a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Alpha; things to like.
#5 CLAIRIERE : Curlin filly is the first foal produced by Cavorting, a triple Grade 1 heroine from seven furlongs up to 1 1/8 miles; sire and dam both won by open lengths first out sprinting, which bodes well for their daughter to do the same against a field of rivals that are relatively more experienced but hardly imposing; strong connections in her corner; perhaps the one to beat.
#6 WILL’S SECRET : Off a tad tardily when stretching out and simply didn’t get much help from a pace perspective; while there isn’t a whole lot of apparent speed on paper here, would be surprised to see it as slow; showed some promise first out when crashing the board at long odds; fodder for the lower rungs of the exotics.
#7 MEJTHAAM : Raced only evenly in fourth when testing the two-turn waters at Keeneland after a less-than-ideal start; race two back was fair given it was likely too short for her and she was facing the subsequent Alcibiades (G3) third and a next-out graduate; has some appeal, but apparent lack of pace here is a bit of a worry.
#8 EILEEN ALEXANDRA : Passed a few rivals late to finish third in her debut while not seriously threatening for the win after a bit of a wide journey; sire Jess’s Dream won his only start and is a son of Hall of Famers Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, so the pedigree is there for her to show improvement for barn that must be respected.
#9 SUPER QUICK : A half-sister to Viva Majorca, a stakes winner over this track and runner-up in the Ack Ack (G3), she turned in a better finish second out when stalking tactics were employed; however, with so little apparent speed signed on for this race, she might find her best chance would be in using the early foot demonstrated in her Ellis debut; one of the more appealing contenders.
#10 SHIP IT : Flattened out in the final eighth after making a five-wide bid last out at Keeneland in which she started favored as part of an entry; didn’t get much help pace-wise there, and was out-footed first time over this track sprinting; has room for further improvement.
By Vance Hanson
Churchill Downs – Race 7 – Maiden Special Weight, Fillies, 1 1/16 miles Turf
#1 GO BIG GREEN : No serious knocks off two placings at Indiana Grand, other than she naturally faces a slightly better class of horse on her home circuit; addition of Graham a plus as he’s done well riding for Amoss barn here the past couple of seasons; might continue to improve and a share or more within her scope.
#2 MALIBU SUPER SPORT : Malibu Moon a 10% turf debut sire, while dam was a minor stakes winner on the turf at Gulfstream but descended to the claiming ranks near the end of her career; barn has struck out with previous first-time starters, but does pick up Leparoux for this; mixed signals.
#3 DANGER : Faded down the lane after rating in close range through the opening half-mile in her debut over the main track; sire gets a low 5% debut turf winners according to Brisnet stats, while dam is a half-sister to the multiple G1-winning, main-track sprinter The Factor; prefer others.
#4 YABBA DABA DIVA : Passed a few stragglers late in a debut that was undoubtedly on the short side for this daughter of the world-class turf champ Flintshire; also no shame in losing to Royal Approval, who came back to win the Matron (G3) as an odds-on choice; gets more ground here and better presumably on the way.
#5 BELLA CHONCHITA : Grass champ Kitten’s Joy gets 14% turf debut winners, while dam’s best offspring, G1 winner Lady of Fifty, excelled on synthetics; though barn has been a touch cold this year, their positive ROI with first-time starters worth keeping in mind at a potential double-digit price.
#6 FADED MEMORIES : Debut for Glover not much better than either of her two prior starts, and doubt you can blame it entirely on the slow start; blinkers on today, but arguably needs a class drop more than anything and this pedigree tilts toward dirt.
#7 MISS ADELINE : A much better effort second out, though interesting she was bet down off such a modest debut at huge odds; a lot of improvement was expected or the field wasn’t particularly strong on paper; as a daughter of the long-winded grass champ Big Blue Kitten and out of a half to Canadian champion Marchfield, the longer the likely better for her.
#8 LA BURNETT : Bernardini gets a mere 4% turf debut winners, but filly pack some pedigree power as a half-sister to the G1-winning, one-turn specialist Tarist, who won the Humana Distaff (G1) over the main track here; another half-sister was multiple graded-placed on the weeds; Stonestreet homebred a potential player regardless of surface.
#9 VIETNAM : Violence gets 11% turf debut winners, while dam has already reared Yes She’s a Lady, a minor dirt stakes winner at Belmont; consistent works in recent months and low-key connections likely ensure a price first out.
#10 JEWEL AZUL : Made no impression first out after being crowded some leaving the gate; sire was a multiple champion and notably won the Hollywood Derby on the turf, while dam has reared a half-sister that was stakes-placed on the grass; prefer to see another.
#11 CALLE DE LLORA : Multiple G1-winning sire was a dirt star, but gets respectable 14% debut winners on the grass; female family has done their best work on the main track as well; Stall has a recent 20% strike rate with first-time starters, per Brisnet stats, and had a strong run during the September portion of the meet (4-for-13); worth a look.
#12 STEPHEN’S JOY : Sire nearly a top-level turf miler during his racing days, but hasn’t yet had many try the grass from his first crop this year; female family includes the talented grass sprinter Elusive Diva, who reared sprint champ and multiple Breeders’ Cup winner Roy H; young McGaughey has won with 40% debut starters from a small sample; check tote and paddock for more insight.
#13 SURREALIST : Main track efforts were disappointing but Kentucky Downs run a solid effort, and looks especially good now that the winning Fluffy Socks came back to win the Selima at Pimlico on the Preakness (G1) undercard; dam notably a half-sister to multiple G1 star and potential BC Filly and Mare Turf (G1) favorite Rushing Fall; an obvious fit if she draws in.
#14 REBUFF : Juddmonte homebred is by Into Mischief, who gets a commendable 14% turf debut winners per Brisnet stats; dam was multiple G2-placed on the dirt, but has a number of turf elements in her own pedigree; potentially overbet due to connections if she gets in, but can’t be ignored because of that either.
By Vance Hanson
Churchill Downs – Race 8 – $98,000 Street Sense Stakes, 1 1/16 miles
#1 CRIME SPREE : Fort Larned gelding rallied to win debut by a head at Louisiana Downs for Eric Heitzman, but generated only a 78 Brisnet Speed rating. He trained forwardly in advance of his lone outing, posting a couple bullet works, but did take advantage of an outside post. Draws a tough inside post today and must run faster to challenge.
#2 ONCOMING TRAFFIC : Closed fast to upset rivals at 24-1 in his first start at Keeneland on Oct. 3, scoring by a head for trainer Jimmy DiVito. Mineshaft colt registered an excellent 85 Brisnet Speed rating, the second-best figure in the field, and shows a solid 5-furlong drill in the 22-day interim. Rafael Bejarano retains the mount, and Oncoming Traffic rates serious consideration.
#3 ARABIAN PRINCE : Overlooked at 12-1, dark bay colt rallied from back of pack to win an off-the-turf maiden by 1 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs on Sept. 2. Dallas Stewart’s runners are eligible to improve with racing experience, but he may not have beaten much last time and netted only a 77 Speed rating. Arabian Prince was the top seller from 49 offspring of freshman sire Mshawish, commanding $235,000 at last year’s Saratoga Yearling Sale, and he will be running late.
#4 KING FURY : A convincing maiden win at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby week, Kenny McPeek-trained son of Curlin must improve upon a weakening eighth in the Oct. 3 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. Brian Hernandez Jr. retakes the mount, and the chestnut is a candidate to move forward off his first start against winners.
#5 EUCHARIST : A bay gelding by Flatter, WinStar homebred scored by a length in front-running fashion when making his first start at Keeneland on Oct. 4. He earned a fine 84 Speed rating, and Tyler Gaffalione takes over the reins for Rodolphe Brisset. This field lacks early pace, and Eucharist rates as a legitimate threat to lead wire to wire.
#6 FRANZ JOSEF : He’s improved in every start for Glenn Wismer, graduating by 1 1/4-length margin in his third outing at Presque Isle Downs on Oct. 7, but faces a major class check here. Julien Leparoux takes over the mount on the $40,000 son of Mshawishm.
#7 SUPER STOCK : Steve Asmussen-trained colt is the likely favorite following thirds in the Breeders’ Futurity and Iroquois (G3), and Dialed In colt possesses the tactical speed to receive a favorable trip from his outside post. His Brisnet Speed numbers are the best in the field. A sharp winner at Lone Star Park three starts back, Super Stock should be in position to challenge turning for home.
By James Scully
Churchill Downs – Race 9 – Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 miles
#1 RACE CRAFT: Calumet Farm homebred ran evenly at first asking on the surface and merits respect for a fine second out trainer in Asmussen. The gelded son of Street Sense has a pair of juvenile-winning siblings from three that have raced, and he gets a much better draw today after receiving the rail on debut. Go-to pilot Ricardo Santana will get a leg up.
#1A SANTA CRUISER: Second part of the entry is also second on the also-eligibles list for conditioner Keith Desormeaux. Dark bay son of Dialed In was a smart third behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Essential Quality on debut and came home second in a recent run going seven-eighths on this strip. Kentucky-bred has a 2-year-old-winning sibling from one who has raced, and he will be a prime contender if he gets into the field. James Graham will ride.
#2 HOPE AND DIGNITY: Second-time starter showed brief speed before retreating early in a sprint run at Churchill Downs. Paul McGee trainee has four winning siblings and is well drawn inside for his route bow, but the homebred son of Goldencents will need marked improvement to challenge on Sunday.
#3 RYE SENSE OF HUMOR: Win contender from the barn of Ian Wilkes has made up ground in each of his lifetime tries to date while sprinting. The chestnut son of Distorted Humor, whose half-sister won twice as a 2-year-old, has trained well in preparation of his route debut and rates a big chance with Leparoux staying in the silks.
#4 SCARLET FUSION: Half-brother to Grade 1 victor Visionaire and Grade 1 heroine Tara’s Tango did his best running late on debut for Mark Casse. The $800,000 son of Curlin will prosper with the added ground to work with second time out, especially if he doesn’t leave himself with too much to do turning for home. Tyler Gaffalione will take the reins.
#5 LEBLON: Dark bay son of Broken Vow did improve in his second career appearance, but his poor try on the dirt at Keeneland in July makes him hard to fall in love with in this deep field. The youngster will need a major step forward to make the frame in his local debut.
#6 ALL BODES WELL: Dark bay son of Bodemeister closed from ninth to finish third in his first showing for conditioner Dale Romans. The April foal ran into a sharp top pair at Keeneland in his unveiling, and the stretch out in trip figures to move the colt forward for a 20% sprint-to-route barn. Joe Talamo has the call.
#7 FLORIFORM: Juddmonte homebred burned money as the 8-5 choice in his debut on the oval but deserves a another chance for Bill Mott. The son of Into Mischief out of a stakes placed Empire Maker mare shows two solid half-mile drills in advance of his second try, and the bay is bred to run at least this long for a heady route outfit. Chris Landeros inherits the mount.
#8 SOUTHERN PASSAGE: Bay son of Super Saver missed by a nose facing maiden claiming foes on the oval in his latest venture. The colt is a half-brother to a pair of Peruvian champions, but he ultimately might do his best work when racing on the green. Robby Albarado will ride the improving 2-year-old.
#9 BUSINESS MODEL: Godolphin homebred was an even third going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in his second lifetime outing and will be a major player with any improvement off of that run. Brendan Walsh trainee is cut out to be a two-turn performer, and he has to be considered one of the top choices in this spot with regular rider Corey Lanerie back in the irons.
#10 CAMP HOPE: $200,000 son of Summer Front will make his first appearance going long for Kenny McPeek. The January foal shows a steady string of morning drills on this surface since early September, and he might be fit enough for a trainer who can win with this kind. Brian Hernandez, Jr. will be on board.
#11 GRAND DESIGN: Chestnut son of Union Rags didn’t show all that much in his unveiling at Keeneland going six furlongs, but the $260,000 yearling purchase can surely improve with one under his belt. The Kentucky-bred is a half-sister to 2019 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) runner-up Ulele, and the April foal will surely appreciate the additional distance on Sunday. Florent Geroux will be in the stirrups.
#12 MYSTICAL MAN: Colt by Mucho Macho Man is winless from two tries but showed life when a closing fourth going long at Churchill Downs last time out. The bay will add blinkers for his second try on the main oval, and he could be the one if the equipment change can have him closer to the pace on Sunday beneath Miguel Mena.
#13 SHARTLE: Jason Cook pupil showed little speed before showing some late interest on debut on the oval. The $32,000 son of Dominus is first on the also-eligible list, but he will need to show a lot more from a demanding post to upset this cast of well-bred juveniles.
By John Mucciolio
Churchill Downs – Race 10 – $98,000 Rags to Riches Stakes, 1 1/16 miles
#1 ORSETTO: Dark bay daughter of Bernardini aced her local debut with a runaway maiden tally going seven-eighths for conditioner Timothy Austin. The $142,000 yearling purchase, who is from a healthy stakes family, drilled a bullet most recently in preparation of her stakes debut. Speedster will break running from the inner post slot under Cannon.
#2 MALIBU BIRD: Malibu Moon filly led at every call in posting a narrow maiden victory at Keeneland at third asking. The February foal showed obvious improvement in stretching out to a route for the initial time in her recent offering, and she could be dangerous if Tyler Gaffalione can carve out a sensible trip on her.
#3 DASH TO THE TOP: Wayne Catalano trainee has moved forward with each lifetime performance, led by a nose second in an allowance tilt at Keeneland last time out. The dark bay filly will need further improvement in order to challenge for the top prize on Sunday, but she is currently trending in the right direction and can’t be ignored. Gabe Saez has the call.
#4 OLIVIAOFTHEDESERT: Stakes-placed gray was no match in the recent Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland but faces a more realistic task in this affair. Kenny McPeek pupil was an easy winner in her lone prior try on the dirt, and she figures to appreciate the ground as this is her home base. The $320,000 yearling purchase will be doing her best work from off the pace with Brian Hernandez riding.
#5 LADY TRAVELER: Dale Romans student was a recent wire-to-wire winner over special weight foes going six furlongs on the strip. The daughter of top sire Quality Road, who is a half-sister to dual Grade-1 winning champion Heart to Heart, is bred to handle the trip and continues to work in fine fashion, as well. Regular jock Joe Talamo retains the mount.
#6 SALTY AS CAN BE: Half-sister to 2018 La Troienne (G1) queen Salty was game in a debut win at Churchill Downs when overcoming a pair of determined foes late. Trained by Mark Casse, the $850,000 auction buy will prosper with seasoning as well as the added ground with which to work with on this occasion for a fine layoff outfit. The Kentucky-bred picks up pilot Ricardo Santana for the voyage.
#7 TORSIE’S CHARM: Juvenile daughter of More Than Ready was a smart maiden victress at Ellis Park two back, prior to running evenly when fifth in an allowance heat at Keeneland in her latest try. The March foal has good early pace and will be a presence from the start in her stakes bow. Adam Beschizza will take the reins.
#8 COACH: Unbeaten and untested filly from the barn of Brad Cox gets a class test shipping in from Indiana Grand. The daughter of Commissioner has been dominant from a pair of sprint outings to date, and she could be very dangerous if she can handle two turns in her route debut. Florent Geroux will be in the stirrups.
#9 MIDNIGHT BALLERINA: Second timer from the Bill Mott shedrow graduated on debut while favored over a big field locally. Mineshaft homebred drew widest for her first stakes attempt, but she showed tactical speed in her initial attempt, and she is also bred to thrive going a route of ground. The top win candidate will retain the services of jockey Julien Leparoux.
By John Mucciolio
Churchill Downs – Race 11 – Maiden Special Weight, 7 Furlongs
#1 RUNWAY MAGIC : Received little support and never factored after breaking slowly in debut. Rusty Arnold trainees are eligible to improve with experience, and Julien Leparoux sticks with the Runhappy colt, but the bay juvenile drew a tough inside post in this bulky field.
#2 HPNOTIQ RHYTHM : After a runner-up effort in debut at Canterbury Park, Bayern colt finished decent fourth at long odds in an Oct. 11 maiden special weight at Keeneland. Valorie Lund runner has shown decent speed in both starts, but must work out a trip from the inside today and loses the services of Brian Hernandez Jr.
#3 BIG LAKE : Third when making his first start at Churchill on Sept. 24, American Pharoah colt is a serious contender here for Steve Asmussen. He showed good speed from the start last time and after making a move into contention in upper stretch, chestnut came up a little short in third. Big Lake shows three works in 29-day interim, and he can keep moving forward with a win.
#4 FOLIAGE : Second when making his debut in an off-the-turf maiden at Saratoga, Speightstown colt switches back to main track after a neck second in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint on Sept. 27. The extra ground may benefit him – the youngster is out of a mare by Galileo – and Foliage will be forwardly placed with Colby Hernandez. Al Stall Jr. is looking to turn things around after a slow meet at Keeneland.
#5 COMMANDEER : Street Boss colt started slowly from rail, but closed fast to miss by only a length in second when unveiled at Hawthorne on Oct. 4. Trainer Eoin Harty steps the Godolphin homebred up in class, and the juvenile’s pedigree appears more slanted towards turf. He would be a surprise with James Graham.
#6 GROUP HUG : From the first crop of Speightster, who is hitting with 17% of his debut runners from a small sample, bay colt makes his debut for 6% first-out trainer Ian Wilkes. Group Hug shows a swift 5-furlong move two starts back and gets Hernandez, but he’s one to consider for at least a minor award at long odds.
#7 ROYAL TRYST : A half-brother to Grade 2 winners War Story and Land Over Sea, Medaglia d’Oro colt cost $500,000 at 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and makes career debut for Kenny McPeek. His works appear moderate, and the bay 2-year-old may improve with added ground and experience, but his pedigree remains intriguing.
#8 KING’S OVATION : Chestnut colt took some betting action but packed it in early in his debut, earning only a 69 Brisnet Speed rating finishing a well-beaten seventh. Not This Time colt remains a candidate to improve the second time out for Dale Romans, but it’s difficult to have much confidence in this spot.
#9 FROSTED OVER : A $275,000 yearling purchase from the first crop of Frosted, bay colt makes first start for Mark Casse with a couple of fast 5-furlong works at Churchill Downs to his credit. Tyler Gaffalione takes the mount on the intriguing youngster, but Frosted Over’s female family is slanted towards turf. Won’t be surprised to see him need a race.
#10 OUTASITE : He is training forwardly for his debut for Brad Cox, showing a fast series of works at Keeneland. From the first crop of Outwork, the bay colt was purchased for $380,000 as a 2-year-old in training earlier this year and figures to show speed with Florent Geroux. Outasite’s female family is slanted towards turf, but he looks ready to roll at first asking on the main track.
#11 TRUMP CARD : Broke slowly in debut but rallied to finish third to Eucharist, who is entered in the Street Sense Stakes earlier on the card. Larry Jones wins at an 18% clip in the second start, and Trump Card netted solid Brisnet Speed (81) and Late Pace (90) ratings while passing horses last time. Joe Talamo takes the call on the Nyquist colt, and the bay youngster is one to consider at a possible price.
#12 COPA : He’s showed good speed in both starts, finishing second last time at Keeneland, and Corey Lanerie will take the call for Dallas Stewart. His Speed ratings are a little low, but the dark bay Liam’s Map colt still has room for improvement and can’t be dismissed from top three consideration today.
By James Scully