Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes odds & betting picks

And more races for this Saturday 27th at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs plays host to the big names of the future with the ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ meeting on Saturday, in which the line-up is headed by potential Kentucky Derby horses such as Howling Time and Classic Causeway in the feature Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. The fillies’ version, the Grade 2 Golden Rod, brings together the very promising Sandstone and the well-bred Famed, while there are promising speedsters aplenty in the ungraded Lively Shively and Fern Creek.

Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

It’s time to take another step along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with ten points available to the winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club, the feature of a strong card at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

They’re queuing up for a crack at the points, with 14 colts in the gate and a morning-line that suggests the race is wide open. The tentative market choice is Tiz The Bomb, the most experienced in the field, who reverts to the main track after making a name for himself on the weeds in his last three starts.

The Kenny McPeek-trained colt was the mutuel winner if not the real winner when chasing home Modern Games in a chaotic Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, keeping on strongly from the rear through beaten horses to go down by a length and a half, a performance that was a big step up from his previous victories in the Grade 2 Bourbon at Keeneland and a stakes at Kentucky Downs.

He has won on the main track, when breaking his maiden at Ellis Park, and if he’s as effective on it at this level as he is on turf then he’ll be a tough nut to crack, although there must be a slight doubt until he’s actually proved it. His barnmate Smile Happy is cut from very different cloth, moving straight up from a debut score in a Keeneland maiden by five and a half lengths. He evidently has talent but this is a tough spot for one so inexperienced.

Another trainer with a dual entry is Dale Romans, whose Howling Time is the better regarded of the two. Unbeaten in two, both here under the twin spires, Howling Time won a stakes over this distance in dominant style last time out when drawing off through the final furlong to win by three and a quarter lengths, with stablemate and course-and-distance Grade 3 Iroquois third Red Knobs another four lengths back in third when never able to lay down a challenge to the front two, and Iroquois sixth Guntown a long way back in fifth.

The likely pace angle from his inside post is Classic Causeway who took a Saratoga maiden win straight into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and tried to make all, eventually crossing the line in third, almost five lengths behind winner Rattle N Roll (barnmate of Tiz The Bomb and Smile Happy). That’s solid Grade 1 form, if not quite at the level of Tiz The Bomb, and his forcing tactics could get several of these out of their comfort zone.

Ben Diesel looked a horse with a big future when making a successful debut over course and distance, seeing off a field of experienced rivals by three and a quarter lengths, and merits this big step up, as does fellow Churchill scorer Texas Red Hot , who left his previous form well behind when getting the job done in an allowance optional claimer over a mile.

The unbeaten White Abarrio exchanges the warmth of Florida for the chill of New York after two wins at Gulfstream Park, the second of them a dominant gate-to-wire score by four lengths in an allowance optional claimer over a mile. He’s a real contender, while another interesting name from Florida is Mannix, a comfortable winner of a Gulfstream maiden on the all-weather on his US debut after showing good form in Ireland, notably when third behind subsequent Group 1 winner Luxembourg. It remains to be seen how effective he is on dirt.

That was the question facing Vivar before his allowance win at Keeneland last time, having shown his ability with success on turf at Kentucky Downs the time before. He took to the main track well although without suggesting that he’s ready for this stern test, while Call Me Midnight took five goes to break his maiden, which he did here over a mile last time, and looks up against even before his outside post is taken into account.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing odds courtesy of Jazzsports
Classic CausewayJoel Rosario+450
GuntownTyler Gaffalione+1700
Rich StrikeRafael Bejarano+5500
Texas Red HotJulien R. Leparoux+1300
Howling TimeJoseph Talamo+250
Tiz The BombBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+450
VivarFlorent Geroux+1500
Smile HappyCorey J. Lanerie+1000
Red KnobsRicardo Santana, Jr.+1800
White AbarrioEdgard J. Zayas+700
Ready PursuitMartin Garcia+5000
Ben DieselJon Kenton Court+1200
MannixEdwin Gonzalez+2200
Call Me MidnightChris Landeros+1700

Betting Prediction for Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes:

A strong field for the Kentucky Jockey Club, in which the main-track experience of course-and-distance winner HOWLING TIME makes him the choice over Tiz The Bomb.

Golden Rod Stakes

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks is also travelled on Saturday, and although unlike the colts’ race there is no strong Grade 1 form on display in the Golden Rod, there is nevertheless an intriguing representation of hugely promising fillies.

The first thing that draws the eye about Famed is her pedigree, as she is an Uncle Mo half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and last year’s champion two-year-old colt Essential Quality and therefore already worth her weight in gold as a broodmare. She was odds-on to make a winning debut here over six furlongs in September, but was sandbagged by a 45-1 shot and beaten a length, with the third horse more than seven lengths back. That longshot winner was Sweet Dani Girl, who franked the form nicely when winning a stakes race at Keeneland next time out.

Famed could be forgiven that defeat, then, and she made no mistake next time at Keeneland over seven furlongs, going gate-to-wire and running them out of town, hitting the wire almost eight lengths clear. She shapes as the likely pace angle, evidently has ability in tandem with fine breeding and should have no difficulty with this mile-sixteenth.

However, she will get a real test against Sandstone , who has done all her racing at Churchill Downs and is two-for-three after two scintillating performances. She cleared right away to win her maiden over a mile by nine lengths in early October, with Secret Oath a length and a quarter further back in third, and then four weeks later repeated the dose with interest in stakes company over course and distance.

That day she shrugged off her three rivals with contemptuous ease, leading at every call and barrelling home by almost 11 lengths from odds-on favourite Yuugiri, emphasising her brilliance and underlining her suitability to step right up to Graded level on what could prove a stellar afternoon for trainer Kenny McPeek. She will probably play a stalk-and-pounce role here behind likely front-runner Famed.

Yuugiri herself had torn up her rivals here over six furlongs on her debut when winning by more than seven lengths, so posed a substantial threat, yet Sandstone simply elbowed her aside. She was herself a mile clear of the third horse, so was allowed to come home at her leisure and could certainly have finished closer to Sandstone had she been asked to, but she will need to produce something extraordinary if she is to flip that form.

Sandstone’s barnmate Hal’s Dream scrambled home in a finish of noses, necks and heads on her debut at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth and will come on for that, but looks very much a supporting character to Sandstone’s leading lady. Secret Oath’s subsequent five-length maiden win over course and distance merely serves to underline the strength of the form.

Code For Success hinted at ability when fourth in the Grade 3 Pocahontas over course and distance but failed to live up to that implication when only fourth as favourite in a Keeneland allowance optional claimer next time out, and together with Cancel This, who outran her odds here when narrowly breaking her maiden at the third attempt, looks set for an onlooker’s role.

The only Grade 1 form in the field comes from Dream Lith, who was a distant fifth in the Spinaway at Saratoga behind Echo Zulu and then a closer fifth (dead-heat) in the Alcibiades at Keeneland behind Juju’s Map. This represents a literal drop in class but the principals here are potential Grade 1 fillies, and Dream Lith could find this just as tough. Her experience may make her hard to keep off the board, though.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing odds courtesy of Jazzsports
FamedFlorent Geroux+200
Cancel ThisJoel Rosario+2000
Secret OathDavid Cohen+1500
SandstoneBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr+160
Hal’s DreamCorey J. Lanerie+2000
YuugiriTyler Gaffalione+300
Dream LithRamon A. Vazquez+800
Code for SuccessRafael Bejarano +1200

Betting Prediction for Golden Ros S:

Those who saw SANDSTONE blow apart a stakes race over course and distance last time will need no further convincing that she is the one to beat in the Golden Rod.

Lively Shively Stakes

The inaugural running of the Lively Shively has drawn a well-matched bunch of sprinters who, although some way removed from the potential future stars in the Kentucky Jockey Club, still provide a tantalising puzzle to be solved.

Strong morning-line favourite Tejano Twist is two-for-seven but has already proved his worth in stakes company, being denied by only a neck at Colonial Downs on turf and then improving on that performance when again runner-up – this time on the main track – at Remington Park.

He continued his progression when dismantling the opposition in an allowance optional claimer at Keeneland over this distance, strolling home by upwards of seven lengths, and if he maintains his upward swing he will be tough to stop.

Steve Asmussen puts two in the gate, with his first-string probably Chattalot, who won an allowance optional claimer here over six furlongs before filling the ‘show’ slot in a stakes at Keeneland, although he was beaten a long way there. Barnmate Cool Papa G made a winning debut here over five furlongs but was then beaten nearly nine lengths into third by Tejano Twist in that Keeneland allowance optional claimer.

Course-and-distance winner Barber Road did it in style by six and a quarter lengths in a starter allowance, following up a gate-to-wire score to break his maiden at Keeneland, and looks ready for the step up to stakes grade. He was a speed presence in his C&D win too and could be out there with a target on his back.

It took Ignitis five races to get off the mark, but he finally got the job done when clearing away to win by five lengths at Keeneland over seven furlongs. Prior to that he was third here behind future Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll over a mile-sixteenth, and now drops back to the shortest distance he’s tried since his debut, so speed may be an issue.

Hoist The Gold lost his maiden tag by default when awarded the race here after the promising Cyberknife had his number taken down, and although there was merit in that performance there was none whatsoever when he was ninth of ten in an allowance optional claimer over a mile here last time out. Perhaps a return to sprinting may help, which may not be the case for Charter Oak , who comes here off two wins in claiming grade at a mile or more.

The outsider Ready To March was an ambitious entry in the Grade 3 Futurity at Belmont Park last month, finishing up last of eight behind Slipstream, and although he comes here off the back of victory in an allowance at little Mountaineer Park, he needs much more now.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing odds courtesy of Jazzsports
Charter OakJulien R. Leparoux+1500
Cool Papa GJoel Rosario+500
ChattalotFlorent Geroux+350
Ready to MarchAlbin Jimenez+2000
Tejano TwistJoseph Rocco, Jr+350
IgnitisRafael Bejarano+800
Barber RoadTyler Gaffalione+800
Hoist the GoldBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+500

Betting Prediction for Lively Shively Stakes:

All the solid form in the Lively Shively belongs to Tejano Twist, but he makes little appeal at morning-line odds and perhaps BARBER ROAD to show will be a wiser approach.

Fern Creek Stakes

The Fern Creek, the distaff equivalent of the Lively Shively and also run for the first time today, is the last race of the afternoon and consequently bettors can get an extra guide to the merits of the unbeaten morning-line favourite Sweet Dani Girl.

She’s the filly who upset the beautifully bred Golden Rod contender Famed at 45-1 here on debut, and then proved it wasn’t a fluke when moving smoothly into stakes company at Keeneland over six furlongs, where she came late and fast to grab the dollars by three-quarters of a length, with Verylittlecents just a nose away in third. Famed’s performance two races earlier on the card won’t have any great substantive impact on Sweet Dani Girl’s chances, but if that filly should run well it would be encouraging for her supporters.

That performance was arguably the best yet from Verylittlecents, whose earlier victory in a stakes at Ellis Park, when outrunning Golden Sights by two and a half lengths, was followed by a less impressive showing in a stakes at Kentucky Downs, where she was beaten 12 lengths into third.

Golden Sights was still a maiden at that point and wouldn’t get off the mark until two races later when she made all and drew off to win by five and a quarter lengths at Keeneland over seven furlongs. She is trainer Brad Cox’s second-string here, with the barn fancy being Ellis Park maiden winner Matareya who was certainly not disgraced on her first attempt at Graded level when dead-heating for fifth behind Juju’s Map in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth last month.

She had plenty of use made of her there by Joel Rosario before dropping back from mid-stretch, and this sharp drop in grade and distance will make life a lot easier for her.

Going the other way is Marissa’s Lady, who made a successful debut here over six furlongs at the end of last month. She got up to snatch the spoils in the last jump there, with the first two drawing a long way clear of the third, but although that showed distinct promise and there’s no doubt she’ll move up, her odds are a little on the skinny side against more seasoned rivals.

Knowing Glance arrives looking to stretch her winning streak to three, with victory in a maiden claimer here over seven furlongs followed by an improved performance in an allowance optional claimer at Keeneland over today’s distance, when she came from off the pace to win by a length and a quarter, with the first two nine lengths clear of the third. She needs to find more, as does Bali Del Sol who won over five and a half furlongs on her debut at Keeneland and has a similar profile to Marissa’s Lady, although is four times the price.

Course-and-distance winner Laura’s Charm is two-for-two at Churchill Downs, with a four-length score in a starter allowance last time out and an all-the-way romp by eight and a half lengths in a maiden claimer over a mile on her record. Her bare form isn’t what’s required today but her liking for the track entitles her to respect, and there are worse options for exotics players.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing odds courtesy of Jazzsports
Golden SightsFlorent Geroux+1000
MatareyaJoel Rosario+350
Bali Del Sol Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.+1200
VerylittlecentsJoseph Talamo+350
Knowing GlanceTyler Gaffalione+800
Marissa’s LadyRafael Bejarano+300
Laura’s CharmCorey J. Lanerie+1500
Sweet Dani GirlMartin Garcia+250

Top Pick for the Fern Creek:

Is a tightly-knit contest and there are several with chances, but MATAREYAtakes a long drop in class out of a Grade 1 and is the choice now back sprinting.

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