The winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes always seems to be ranked high on everyone’s Kentucky Derby contenders to watch lists. Rightfully so, considering the race is at Churchill Downs, late in the fall, on traditional dirt, and around two turns. It’s got all the makings of a strong prep for the classic prep season.
The next week or so should be plenty fun, most interesting, and undoubtedly stressful for Kellyn Gorder.
The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot showed up in the mailbox today and got me thinking.
The older female division this year is a tough one. Champions Royal Delta and My Miss Aurelia are giants at the top of the food chain. Other top-class fillies and mares like Groupie Doll, Joyful Victory, Include Me Out, and Believe You Can are ready to fill one of those top spots should anyone stumble. Trainers probably feel like they need a monster to compete. Fortunately for Phil Sims, he’s got one.
The hammer dropped at $1.8-million for a Smart Strike colt late in the afternoon Wednesday in Ocala and somewhere in the great beyond, the horseman in Ned Evans was probably quite proud.
The comment lines for Clawback’s first two races are not “wiped out at the start” or “hooked serious classics contender,” but they easily could be. Just as easily as the next two could be “relatively smooth sailing” and “smooth sailing” for the Put It Back colt who goes in Saturday’s Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct.
The inter-track wagering facility on the grounds of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., always a fairly lively spot that 99% of the year is frequented by the typical simulcast crowd, will be rocking this weekend.
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No practices are scheduled. No games are scratched into the small boxes on the calendar. No rosters are floating around in the car.
A small stakes the first weekend of March at Turfway Park is usually not enough to stoke any burning thoughts of making it to the Kentucky Derby, but if Kellyn Gorder does wind up in Louisville he’ll at least be there with a little more experience than the other first-timers.