Knicks Go made all the running in the $1 Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland, sprinting to a short lead from the gate and rolling home to a 3 1//2-length win. Joel Rosario was up for the front-running tally, and Knicks Go established a new track record when completing the two-turn mile in 1::33.85.
“It looked like he was going easy,” Rosario said. “I didn’t know how fast he was going. He went 44 (seconds for a half-mile). That was very fast. He was able to hang in there and have a kick at the eighth pole. It was a very good performance.”
Owned by the Korea Racing Authority, the 4-year-old colt was the first of two Breeders’ Cup race winners on Saturday for Brad Cox, who wound up leading all trainers with four overall victories in the two-day event.
Knicks Go, who earned his only previous stakes win when posting a wire-to-wire upset in the 2018 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, left the starting gate as the 9-5 favorite following a 10-length allowance score at Keeneland on Oct. 4.
It was only his third start of 2020. The gray Maryland-bred romped was transferred to Cox over the winter and was freshened after opening 2020 with a convincing Oaklawn Park allowance triumph in late February.
“He’s very fast and he loves Keeneland as well,” Cox said. We picked the horse up last winter and he really loves it here. Joel did a fantastic job of asking him to be forwardly placed and he responded well. They went very quick and he was able to keep going. This is a good race for him with the short stretch. A lot of things were in his favor today. He’s a very aggressive horse, he loves to train. He’s just a very classy horse.”
Knicks Go established splits in :21.98 and :44.40 while unopposed on the lead. He came under pressure nearing the completion of the far turn, but had another gear and accelerated clear into the stretch to win.
Jesus’ Team rallied up the rail for second at 62-1, a nose better than 6-1 Sharp Samurai, who raced up close most of the way. Next came Complexity, Owendale, Mr. Freeze, Rushie, Art Collector, War of Will, Silver Dust, Mr. Money, and Pirate’s Punch.
By Paynter, Knicks Go was bread by Angie Moore. He’s out of the accomplished Maryland-bred multiple stakes winner Kosmo’s Buddy, a daughter of Outflanker, and Knicks Go sold twice at auction, bringing $40,000 as a weanling before being acquired by his owners for $87,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Knicks Go, who has now won three straight after losing 10 in row over a 12-month stretch, increased his earnings to $1,378,995 from a 17-5-3-1 record.