The focus switches to thoughts of next spring on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, when potential Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders try out over the track. G3 winner Curly Jack and the well-regarded Instant Coffee lead the way in the G2 2022 Kentucky Jockey Club, while impressive course-and-distance stakes-winner Hoosier Philly could be a stand-out in the G2 Golden Rod.
G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 2yo fillies, 5.27pm ET
There are ten fillies in the gate for the Golden Rod but the tote board says that only two of them can win it, with the morning-line displaying every other runner at double-figure odds.
It might be wise to take that opinion with a pinch of salt, given the volatility of juvenile form, but the unbeaten market leader Hoosier Philly (evens) brings very strong credentials to the party. Both her wins have come here, an easy victory in a sprint maiden followed by a stakes victory over course and distance, when she splashed through the slop to beat the pace-pressing dual winner T Max (12-1) by seven and a quarter lengths, extending her advantage with every stride and completely dominant.
It’s impossible to crab the form or the way in which Hoosier Philly went about her work, and further improvement is highly likely. Her maiden win was gained on a fast track so conditions are unlikely to be an issue.
Market rival Pretty Mischievous (5-2) is also unbeaten in two, also both at this circuit, but makes her stakes debut here after coming home a comfortable winner of a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer on the same sloppy afternoon as Hoosier Philly’s fireworks. She surely moves up plenty for that and appears to have only the favourite to beat – if the odds-makers can be relied upon.
This represents class relief for American Rockette (10-1) after two fourth-places in G1 company, behind Leave No Trace and Wonder Wheel in the Spinaway at Saratoga before a lesser effort in the Frizette at Aqueduct on a sloppy track, beaten more than seven lengths. Faster conditions today should help but she is exposed now and faces fast-improving rivals.
Knockyoursocksoff (12-1) tries dirt for the first time after showing up well on the lawn, notably when runner-up in the G2 Jessamine at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth, but has been found a tough spot to try something new and a surface switch is often something to be wary of. Mustang Sally (15-1) was a 100-1 shot in the G1 Alcibiades, also at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth, but outran those odds to finish sixth – Take Charge Briana (15-1) a long way back in tenth – behind subsequent G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Wonder Wheel and shouldn’t be written off.
Maiden winners Pure Pauline (15-1) – it was a dead-heat over a mile-sixteenth at Keeneland – Defining Purpose (15-1), who comes back off just a nine-day turnaround after romping over course and distance, and Black Forest (20-1), who got the job done over seven furlongs at Keeneland, may squeeze into the mix if showing above-average improvement, but it’s a stiff task.
Golden Rod Stakes Odds & Betting Pick
The market has major confidence in HOOSIER PHILLY, and this unbeaten filly is hard to oppose on the basis of her brilliant stakes win over course and distance.
|ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS
|Julien R. Leparoux
|Ricardo Santana, Jr
|Take Charge Briana
|Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
Kentucky Jockey Club
G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 2yo, 5.56pm ET
We move another step down the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ at Churchill Downs on Saturday, when the Kentucky Jockey Club headlines the afternoon and offers qualifying points to the first five home on a 10-4-3-2-1 basis, and with no Bob Baffert horses in the field it means everyone is eligible for a share.
The highest-ranked horse in the RTKD standings on show today is Curly Jack (3-1), who has 13 points in the bag already, most of them earned by his battling win in the G3 Iroquois over course and distance in September, when he had longshot Hayes Strike (10-1) five and a half lengths back in fourth.
Curly Jack was a longshot himself in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last time, emptying out in the stretch to come home a distant fifth behind divisional leader Forte, but this is class relief, he is unbeaten in two under the twin spires, and has a potential class edge as the sole Graded-stakes winner in the line-up.
Hayes Strike ran poorly next time but bounced back on his most recent start in the G3 Street Sense, on a sloppy track over course and distance as a longshot, when he was a clear second-best behind runaway winner Two Phil’s and a long way ahead of fifth-placed disappointment Red Route One (7-2) and last-of-ten Western Ghent (20-1). He evidently likes it here and may outrun his odds again.
Red Route One was a disappointment on that occasion – possibly the sloppy track didn’t suit – because he had previously run third – a long way back – behind the aforementioned Forte in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, rallying late to beat stakes debutant Instant Coffee (5-2) to the show spot by a head. Both horses are of interest down in grade, with the big-league connections of Instant Coffee arguably more responsible for his odds than his racetrack performance.
The unbeaten Freedom Trail (6-1) has done his winning on the lawn at Aqueduct, making his stakes breakthrough over a mile-sixteenth last time when rallying hard to grab the spoils close home. If he is as effective on the main track then he’s a player, while Gigante (12-1) is also back on dirt after winning a stakes at Colonial Downs and running an absolute shocker in the G2 Bourbon at Keeneland.
Cyclone Mischief (8-1) was beaten here on debut but bounced back to win a Keeneland maiden over a mile-sixteenth, driving clear to win by five and a quarter lengths. The manner of his victory suggests that he’s ready to step up, but Denington (12-1) took four goes to break his duck, getting it done on a sloppy track over course and distance, so he could find himself out of his depth.
2022 Kentucky Jockey Club Odds & Betting Prediction
Form behind Forte is the best there is and G1-placed RED ROUTE ONE is the choice to bounce back to his best and confirm Keeneland running with Instant Coffee.
|ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS
|Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
|Corey J. Lanerie
|Red Route One
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