Thoughts of spring were in the air at a chilly Churchill Downs on Saturday, when a couple of markers were laid down for next year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. Instant Coffee showed grit and stamina to capture the 2022 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and unbeaten filly Hoosier Philly displayed real star quality when cruising home in the G2 Golden Rod.
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Coffee gets pulse racing, G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 2yo
The Cyberknife crew have found a good horse for next year as well after their Instant Coffee came running fast off a slow pace to win the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The 3-2 favorite sat a way off the pace set first by Gigante and then Cyclone Mischief but was always traveling well under hot-hand rider Luis Saez, and when he hit top gear in mid-stretch he ran down the front-runners and kicked on to win going away by a length and a quarter, stopping the clock in a leisurely 1:45 and one-fifth.
The second-choice Curly Jack and longshot Hayes Strike rallied to fill out the board, separated by a head in a blanket finish for the minors.
“He broke slowly today so we were a little behind the pace,” said the sizzling Saez, who rode six winners on the card. “But he made a big run into the lane and kept finding more – he’s still figuring things out.”
Instant Coffee earned ten ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby points with this victory, and trainer Brad Cox is planning to come back here in May.
“It’s one of the biggest reasons why we do this,” he said. “We’ll work backward from the Derby now.”
The last Kentucky Derby winner to take the Kentucky Jockey Club along the way was Super Saver in 2009/10.
Golden Rod Stakes
Philly is some filly, G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 2yo fillies
The Golden Rod showcased a performance of the highest quality from Hoosier Philly, who stretched her unbeaten record to three – all at Churchill Downs – with a thoroughly dominant display.
The grey daughter of Into Mischief won as a 2-5 favorite should, stalking the pace under Edgar Morales before cruising into the lead around the turn and drawing off in impressive fashion through the stretch, Morales motionless in the saddle on the way to a five-length score.
Main-track debutante Knockyoursocksoff outran her longshot odds to beat out second-choice Pretty Mischievous for the place spot by a neck. The stopwatch showed 1:43 and four-fifths.
“I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again – I’ve never had one as good as her,” said trainer Tom Amoss, who sent out Serengeti Empress to win the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. “She has a God-given talent, and I’m just lucky to be on her team.”
Hoosier Philly put ten ‘Road to the Kentucky Oaks’ points in her pocket here, and she will spend the winter at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans as she goes about picking up sufficient points to put herself in the gate on the first Friday in May. The last filly to do the double was Rachel Alexandra in 2008/09.
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