How to Bet the 2018 Kentucky Jockey Club
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
The final graded stakes event of the year in Kentucky drew a full field of two-year-olds in search of 10 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard points to the winner.
The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) attracted the second and third-place finishers from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as well as several runners moving up in class to try graded stakes competition for the initial time. Here are my thoughts:
This race has not been won by a runner exiting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile since 2005 when Private Vow bounced back from a fourteenth-place effort in the World Championships to capture the Kentucky Jockey Club by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 3-5. #13 Knicks Go and #1 Signalman will try to change that on Saturday afternoon.
Knicks Go wired out a field of 13 in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) back in early October at odds of 70-1, but it was widely assumed that the son of Paynter’s first graded stakes victory was a fluke. The KRA Stud Farm colt proved otherwise though running a monster race last time out in the Breeders’ Cup at 40-1. He stalked the highly regarded Complexity in the early going, put the other speeds away and fought on valiantly before giving way late to favored Game Winner.
I was thoroughly impressed with Knicks Go’s effort earlier this month, but I am concerned he is coming back too quickly. With other speed signed on and a far outside draw, I am willing to take a shot against the 2-1-morning line favorite.
Signalman moves from the far outside to the rail after getting a great ride from Brian Hernandez, Jr. in the aforementioned Juvenile. The General Quarters colt should get an honest pace to run at on Saturday given the presence of several runners that have done their best running on or near the early lead. Much like with Knicks Go, I am worried about the quick turnaround time, but if the race flow goes his way he certainly could be a factor late.
#12 King for a Day finished third to Complexity on debut at Saratoga back on September 3 and then wired out a field at Belmont Park going 1 1/16 miles to break his maiden for trainer Todd Pletcher. He now tries two turns for the initial time, but that should not be an issue. He has the look of a colt that should relish the added ground. At 8-1 on the line he is a must use.
#4 Dunph broke his maiden in dominating fashion at Penn National and then moved into the Mike Maker barn and won the $300,000 Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes over this racetrack on October 28 by 7 3/4 lengths. The son of Temple City gets a class test on Saturday, but he has the look of a serious runner. He is my top choice as hot-riding Tyler Gaffalione sticks around after being aboard for the first time last month.
If you are looking for price horses to include underneath perhaps #5 Plus Que Parfait, #6 Blue Steel or #7 Limonite can earn a minor share.
Plus Que Parfait showed a lot of heart when he battled back to break his maiden at Keeneland last month. He will be best served if Julien Leparoux can relax him just off a potentially lively pace.
Blue Steel was well meant on debut for trainer Dale Romans, but failed to fire his best shot. He bounced back on October 28 with an impressive wire-to-wire score at seven panels. If Robby Albarado can avoid getting caught up on the front end he can outrun his odds.
Limonite has only won once in three lifetime tries, but his losses are by a head and a neck. He could get the right trip in his first stakes race.
Here is how I suggest wagering on the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes:
$1 Trifecta Wheel
4+12 with 1+4+5+6+7+12 with 1+4+5+6+7+12 = $40
$2 Exacta Wheel
4+12 with 4+5+6+7+12 = $16
Total Budget = $56
Dunph photo by Coady Photography