It was not necessarily a major surprise that last year’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” program at Churchill Downs produced a classic winner. The shocker was that the classic winner came from the Golden Rod (gr. II), not the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II).
At the time nobody could have known, not even the connections, but it was Rachel Alexandra who went on to superstardom the following season after winning the Golden Rod by nearly five lengths. She has not lost since.
It is doubtful another horse of Rachel Alexandra’s caliber will come out of the 2009 “Stars of Tomorrow II” program, but one never knows, and that is good enough reason to watch the $150,000 Golden Rod and $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club, for 2-year-old fillies and 2-year-old males, respectively. Both races are at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. In all, Churchill will offer a dozen juvenile races on its Nov. 28 closing-day card with post time beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST.
In the Kentucky Jockey Club, a field of nine was drawn with Bob and Cathy Zollars and Mark Wagner’s Thiskyhasnolimit appearing to have the edge. A son of Sky Mesa—Lovely Regina, by Deputy Minister, Thiskyhasnolimit has been racing in graded stakes company since the summer. He was eighth in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) at Saratoga, third in the Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont, and last out won the Nov. 1 Iroquois (gr. III) by a length at Churchill at odds of 13-1.
Bred in Kentucky by TNT Stud and from the barn of Steve Asmussen, Thiskyhasnolimit also broke his maiden at Churchill back in July—by seven lengths. He will retain regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan and break from post 3.
Also coming out of graded company are William's Kitten and Super Saver. A homebred of Ken and Sarah Ramsey, William’s Kitten finished eighth in the Nov. 7 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Santa Anita. The son of Kitten's Joy broke his maiden in July on the Ellis Park turf and won the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs in September. Miguel Mena will ride for Mike Maker.
WinStar Farm’s homebred Super Saver broke his maiden by seven lengths at second asking Sept. 11 at Belmont and then set the pace before tiring to finish fourth in the Oct. 10 Champagne (gr. I) over the same track. The Maria's Mon colt will test two turns for the first time. Calvin Borel will ride for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Two others to watch for are Callide Valley, who won a Churchill allowance race at the same distance Nov. 1 for Eddie Kenneally, and Mr. Saturdaynight, a California shipper making his first start on a dirt track for Dale Romans.
In the Golden Rod, the top four finishers from the Nov. 1 Pocahontas (gr. III) return, including the winner, Sassy Image. A field of seven was drawn.
Trained by Romans for his brother, Jerry, Sassy Image won the Pocahontas by two lengths under Robby Albarado as the favorite. The daughter of Broken Vow broke her maiden at Churchill back in June and then finished runner-up in the Adirondack (gr. II) at Saratoga. The chestnut filly was off the board in both the Spinaway (gr. I) and Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) prior to the Pocahontas score. Albarado retains the mount and they will break from the rail.
Runner-up in the one-mile Pocahontas was Westrock Stables’ Decelerator. From the barn of D. Wayne Lukas, Decelerator won the Debutante (gr. III) in June at Churchill but is winless in four starts since. She was seventh in the Alcibiades, one place better than Sassy Image. Terry Thompson will ride.
$150,000 Golden Rod (gr. II, Race 9, 3:28 p.m.), 2YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Sassy Image (KY), R Albarado, 119, D L Romans
2. All Due Respect (FL), B J Hernandez Jr., 119, R W Werner
3. Upperline (KY), E T Baird, 119, M Stidham
4. Vivid Colors (KY), C H Borel, 119, K G McPeek
5. Decelerator (KY), T J Thompson, 119, D W Lukas
6. Canadian Storm (VA), J L Castanon, 119, V Oliver
7. Quiet Temper (KY), F C Torres, 119, D L Romans
$150,000 KY Jockey Club (gr. II, Race 11, 4:27 p.m.), 2YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. King Snake (KY), L R Goncalves, 122, M A Tomlinson
2. Super Saver (KY), C H Borel, 122, T A Pletcher
3. Thiskyhasnolimit (KY), R Albarado, 122, S M Asmussen
4. William's Kitten (KY), M Mena, 122, M J Maker
5. Gleam of Hope (KY), C J Lanerie, 122, A L Reinstedler
6. Mr. Saturdaynight (KY), G Saez, 122, D L Romans
7. Worldly (KY), F C Torres, 122, P J McGee
8. Callide Valley (KY), J Theriot, 122, E Kenneally
9. Activity Report (KY), T J Thompson, 122, D W Lukas