The Cliff's Edge Can Join Zito's Derby A-List

(from Churchill Downs report)
Trainer Nick Zito looks for another big effort by The Cliff's Edge, the odds-on favorite for Saturday's $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

A victory could place the son of Gulch in the thick of the chase for next year's 130th renewal of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in May.

A record 7 3/4-length romp in the $100,000-added Iroquois (gr. III) at one mile on Nov. 1 has made The Cliff's Edge a strong favorite in a field of eight 2-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club. The race shares the spotlight on the closing day of track's 27-day "Fall Festival Of Racing" with its sister race for fillies, the $200,000-added Golden Rod (gr. II).

The Cliff's Edge, owned by Robert V. La Penta, was named in honor of Kentucky-based Equibase chart caller and horse racing writer Cliff Guilliams. He scored an impressive four-length victory in his six-furlong debut at Saratoga. He immediately stepped into stakes company for Zito, but endured troubled journeys in a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Park and a sixth-place run in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland. But those efforts were quickly forgotten after the runaway victory by The Cliff's Edge in the one-mile Iroquois.

Zito already had a strong group of Kentucky Derby hopefuls in his barn that includes Champagne (gr. I) winner Birdstone, Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. II) winner Eurosilver, and El Prado Rob, who will represent Zito in Saturday's Remsen (gr. II) at Aqueduct. But the dominating Iroquois victory by The Cliff's Edge placed the colt in that elite company.

"I think the main thing is he's just a good horse," said Zito. "He's got a lot of talent."

Jockey Shane Sellers has been in the saddle aboard The Cliff's Edge for all of his starts and will ride the colt again. He's installed as the 4-5 morning line favorite for the early Kentucky Derby prep.

While the field for the Kentucky Jockey Club is filled with promising juvenile stars, Courtlandt Farm's Commendation is the only other member of the field with a victory in stakes company. The Maryland-based son of Capote, who is trained by Graham Motion, won the Bourbon County on turf at Keeneland. His three career wins have all come on the grass.

Overbrook Farm's Mach Speed, a son of A.P. Indy trained by Dallas Stewart, is coming off an impressive maiden victory at 1 1/16-miles and has attracted the riding services of leading rider Pat Day.

Four contenders come from a 1 1/16-mile allowance prep on Nov. 9: Mrs. James Winn's victorious Proper Prado, Thomas M. Carey's Gran Prospect (runner-up), Ducharme Stable's Jamian (fourth) and Clinton and Susan Atkins' Saltire (fifth).

$200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse, Wgt., Jockey, ML Odds
1. Commendation, 122, Cornelio Velasquez, 15-1
2. Trust Me, 116, Terry Thompson, 30-1
3. Gran Prospect, 116, Craig Perret, 12-1
4. Mach Speed, 114, Pat Day, 30-1
5. Jamian, 116, Brian Peck, 15-1
6. Proper Prado, 118, John McKee, 20-1
7. The Cliff's Edge, 122, Shane Sellers, 9-2
8. Saltire, 116, Larry Melancon, 10-1