McLaughlin, Godolphin Back on Derby Trail with Enticed
Just how strong was the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park?The runner-up Good Magic came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The fourth-place finisher Kowboy Karma ran a strong second in the James F. Lewis Stakes at Laurel Park. And on November 25th, the third-place finisher Enticed returned to win the 8.5-furlong Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs to stamp himself as one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (gr. I).
Racing for the team of Godolphin Racing and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Enticed has seemed destined to be a good horse from the start. As a son of Medagliad’Oro, out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare It’s Tricky, Enticed's pedigree suggests that he could be a perfect fit for the classic races next spring, and he lived up to expectations by winning his debut at Saratoga and following up with a solid effort in the Champagne.
Now he’s got a graded stakes win under his belt, and visually speaking, there was quite a bit to like about Enticed’s performance.After breaking a step slowly, Enticed showed no hesitation advancing in tight quarters between horses to settle in third place behind easy fractions of :23.60, :47.70, and 1:12.53. And while he had trouble getting going on the far turn, losing a bit of ground while under urging, Enticed appeared as though he wasn’t completely focused with his ears sitting up. In any case, once in the homestretch, Enticed settled down to seal the deal and rallied wide to win by a head.
Given that Enticed didn’t appear to be very focused around the far turn, he could have lots of room for improvement as he gains experience. That will be important considering that, on paper, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes wasn’t a very fast race. The final time was just 1:44.42, more than a second slower than the time posted by the filly Road to Victory in the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) two starts prior. The key for Enticed will be ensuring that he stays healthy and doesn’t peak during the winter, fates that have befallen some of McLaughlin’s recent Derby hopefuls such as Cairo Prince and Mohaymen.
Where do you rank Enticed at this early point on the Derby trail?