January 30, 2023

Knicks Go romps in Cornhusker; Stilleto Boy, Army Wife win Prairie stakes

Knicks Go wins the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (Photo by Coady Photography)

After a pair of setbacks, multiple Grade 1 winner Knicks Go rebounded stylishly with a 10 1/4-length thrashing in Friday’s $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3).

On the same program at the Altoona, Iowa track, Stilleto Boy posted a wire-to-wire upset in the $250,000 Iowa Derby and Army Wife rolled to an easy win in the $225,000 Iowa Oaks (G3).

Cornhusker (G3)

Knicks Go gave his five rivals no hope in the 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker, accelerating to a short lead at the break and drawing off impressively on the final turn. The 3-5 favorite entered the stretch up by more than five lengths, and the gray five-year-old kept pouring it on while being geared down in the latter stages.

Owned by the Korea Racing Association, the Brad Cox-trained horse was ridden by Joel Rosario.

Knicks Go conceded opponents six-to-10 pounds as the 126-pound highweight, and he stopped the teletimer in a sharp 1:47.33 after establishing opening splits in :23.33, :47.02, and 1:10.77.

Pimlico Special (G3) winner Last Judgment, who was vanned off the track afterward, held second throughout. Rated R Superstar closed for third, and he was followed by Tenfold, Dinar, and 3-1 second choice Modernist.

Knicks Go won all three starts last year, including a 3 1/2-length tally in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland. He opened 2021 with another superb wire-to-wire performance, dominating the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park, but did not fire his best effort when shipping overseas for the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1), checking in a well-beaten fourth.

After weakening to fourth as the odds-on favorite in the June 5 Met Mile (G1) at Belmont, Knicks Go appeared to regain his confidence in the Cornhusker. The son of Paynter upset the 2018 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) under the direction of former trainer Ben Colebrook, but after a 10-race losing streak, he was transferred to Cox.

Knicks Go has now earned $4,833,955. Bred in Maryland by Angie Moore, he was purchased for $87,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale. The frontrunner is out of the multiple stakes-winning Outflanker mare Kosmo’s Buddy.

Iowa Derby

With Jose Ortiz picking up the mount, Stilleto Boy sped to the fore when the gates opened and led wire-to-wire in the Iowa Derby. Overlooked at 16-1, the Shackleton gelding had broken his maiden two starts previously at Oaklawn Park in his fifth career outing, and the Doug Anderson trainee was exiting a fourth in the June 4 Prairie Mile S.

Stilleto Boy wins the Iowa Derby (Photo by Coady Photography)

Stillleto Boy didn’t show the same speed from his maiden win in the Prairie Mile, rating just off the early leaders, but he easily made all the pace in the Iowa Derby, widening his advantage leaving the far turn. He was never threatened in the stretch while under confident handling, scoring by a 4 1/2-length margin, and finished the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:42.64. The chestnut was the longest shot on the tote board among six runners.

Flash of Mischief, the 12-1 fifth choice, held second throughout, winding up 2 1/2 lengths better than Gagetown in third. Next came Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Super Stock, 9-5 favorite Nova Rags, and Rightandjust.

Bred in Kentucky by co-owners John and Iveta Kerber, Stilleto Boy is also campaigned by Michael Coleman, Aaron Kennedy, and Anderson. He more than doubled his career earnings to $249,675 from a 7-2-2-2 line.

Iowa Oaks

Black-Eyed Susan (G2) heroine Army Wife recorded her second straight convincing stakes win, rallying from just the pace to 3 3/4-length decision in the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Oaks. Rosario was up for Mike Maker on the even-money favorite, and the Three Diamonds Farm colorbearer upped her bankroll to $423,972 from a 9-4-1-2 record.

Army Wife wins the Iowa Oaks (Photo by Coady Photography)

By Declaration of War, Army Wife was timed in 1:43.10. A maiden winner last fall at Churchill Downs, the bay filly finished third when making her stakes debut in the Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct three starts previously. She was exiting a 2 3/4-length win in the May 14 Black-Eyed Susan.

Shesa Mystery took second at 17-1, 2 1/2 lengths clear of 17-10 second choice Pauline’s Pearl. The Grass Is Blue, Sister Annie, and Windmill completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by J D Stuart and AR Enterprises, Army Wife was acquired from $190,000 at the OBS Spring two-year-old sale. The sophomore is out of the Arch mare Tread.