Trainer Nick Zito saddled the winner of the $250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24, but it wasn’t the horse everyone expected.
Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal, sent off at odds of 8-1, far outperformed his stablemate Cool Coal Man to nab the 1 1/16-mile event for 2-year-olds on the closing day of the Churchill fall meet.
“I told everyone, ‘Don’t forget this horse,’ ” said Zito, whose barn is stocked with top 2-year-olds heading into the winter season, including Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner War Pass. “The progression has been perfect—he went from seven furlongs to a mile to a mile and a sixteenth, and this was a good race.
“The other horse (Cool Coal Man) ran worse than he is. I think he’s got a future, so don’t be surprised to see him come back here too in the spring.”
Under Julien Leparoux, who also won the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) earlier on the card with Pure Clan and won the leading rider title for Churchill’s fall meet, Anak Nakal settled within easy striking distance and was fourth as Halo Najib led the field through early fractions of :23.72 and :46.94, followed by a closely-bunched Cool Coal Man and Mythical Pegasus.
Leaving the second turn, Anak Nakal made his move four-wide and took the lead at the sixteenth pole. He drew off to win by half a length, while Blackberry Road made a late run for second and Racecar Rhapsody was third. The final time was 1:43.16.
Anak Nakal returned $18.40, $8.80, and $5.80. Blackberry Road and jockey Calvin Borel brought $7.80 and $4.40, while Racecar Rhapsody paid $4.40 to show under Robby Albarado. Real Appeal, Halo Najib, Mythical Pegasus, and Cool Coal Man completed the order of finish.
A Victory Gallop colt bred in Kentucky by Buckram Oak Farm out of the Quiet American mare Misk, Anak Nakal now has two wins and a second from three career starts. His career earnings total $220,916. According to Zito, he will winter in Florida with a campaign pointing to the Triple Crown trail.