As trainer of Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner War Pass, Nick Zito has one sure-fire Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender in his barn.
On Nov. 24, the Hall of Famer will find out if he has another legitimate threat, as he sends out highly-touted Cool Coal Man in the $250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), a 1 1/16-mile test for 2-year-olds on the main track at Churchill Downs. A field of eight is entered.
Cool Coal Man is owned by Robert LaPenta, who also happens to own War Pass. After two unsuccessful starts in New York to start his career, Cool Coal Man, by Mineshaft , has been mighty impressive.
First, he went wire-to-wire for a 10 ¼-length victory in a maiden race at Delaware Park. The bay colt then followed with a 2 ¼-length score in an 1 1/16-mile allowance event at Churchill Nov. 3. Many who have seen Cool Coal Man train believe he is the real deal. On Nov. 16, he breezed five furlongs in 1:02.
Bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish and the E.J. Hudson Jr. Irrevocable Trust, Cool Coal Man is out of Rubiano mare Coral Sea. He will leave from post six with Rafael Bejarano aboard.
Zito, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club in 2003 with The Cliff’s Edge, will also saddle Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal. The Victory Gallop colt was a distant second last month in the Nashua Stakes (gr. III).
Zito’s pair will face tough competition, especially from Ashbrook Farm’s Wicked Style, who won the first three starts of his career before finishing 10th in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), perhaps because he didn’t take to the sloppy track. Prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Wicked Style had been impressive, winning a pair of graded stakes--the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) and the Lane’s End Breeders’ Cup Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, both on synthetic surfaces.
Breaking from post four, Wicked Style is likely to be near the front in the early going. Rene Douglas gets the call.
Also likely to be a major factor is the Halo’s Image colt Halo Najib, who missed by only a half-length in his second start, the Oct. 28 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill. Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Dale Romans, Halo Najib broke his maiden Oct. 1 at Keeneland. He will likely stalk the pace under Kent Desormeaux.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a winner of four Kentucky Jockey Club titles, will send out Mythical Pegasus, who was eighth in the Iroquois.
$250,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II, Race 11, 4:27 p.m.), Two-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Anak Nakal, 122, Julien R. Leparoux
2. Real Appeal, 122, Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Halo Najib, 122, Kent J. Desormeaux
4. Wicked Style, 122, Rene R. Douglas
5. Racecar Rhapsody, 122, Robby Albarado
6. Cool Coal Man, 122, Rafael Bejarano
7. Mythical Pegasus, 122, Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
8. Blackberry Road, 122, Calvin H. Borel