The objective for Godolphin's Enticed heading into the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 25 was to get a good education in just his third start and emerge with some graded stakes bragging rights.
It ended up being mission accomplished on both fronts, but not without drama throughout.
The regally-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro gave Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed a solid early hand regarding his prospects for the first Saturday in May next year, when he shook off some eventful moments during the 1 1/16-mile race and got his head down on the line over Tiz Mischief at Churchill Downs.
A homebred out of multiple grade 1 winner It's Tricky, Enticed signaled his class last month, when he finished third in the Oct. 7 Champagne Stakes (G1) behind Firenze Fire and eventual Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Good Magic.
After breaking from post 6 in the 14-horse field Saturday, the dark bay colt showed he had the mind to handle adversity as well after he was bumped by Givemeaminit around the first turn. Givemeaminit was involved in an incident that saw Diamond King stumble and unseat jockey Frankie Pennington, after getting caught in tight quarters between Givemeaminit and Gotta Go.
Enticed was unfazed by that commotion and proceeded to race in third between horses, while Promises Fulfilled cut opening fractions of :23.60 and :47.70 down the backside. When jockey Junior Alvarado asked Enticed to swing out four-wide on the far turn, past Arrival and Reride both making their bids, he got a sustained response as his mount wore down the pacesetter and dug in when engaged by Tiz Mischief to the wire.
"As these babies are growing up both mentally and physically ... you're hoping to gather this sort of experience," said Jimmy Bell, president of Godolphin's Jonabell Farm. "We probably got a little more than we bargained for today, listening to Junior talk about it, but in these big races, with a lot of horses in here, not always do things go according to plan.
"To see him not get discouraged and be able to settle down and put his run in there keeps us very optimistic about the future. He grew up a lot today."
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Enticed broke his maiden Sept. 4 at first asking over a muddy track at Saratoga Race Course, where he won by 1 3/4 lengths going six furlongs. While he got outrun in the lane during the Champagne, he showed an affinity for added distance Saturday, as he hit the finish in 1:44.42 over a fast track.
"He was able to handle all the bumping and all of the stuff and turning for home. The two horses in front were starting to come out and he got a little shy," Alvarado said. "But he was running really nice for me and when he felt the other horse coming, he kept fighting on. ... He was dead game for me."
Sent off at 5-2 odds, Enticed paid out $8.80, $4.80, and $3.80 across the board. Promises Fulfilled finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the top two, with High North and Lone Sailor rounding out the top five.
Diamond King was caught after the race after running on without his pilot. Pennington was sent to North Audubon Hospital in Louisville complaining of pain in his groin area and a cut of his face, but was awake and alert when transported out of the track.
Enticed improved his record to two wins from three starts with $213,880 in earnings. Bell said the colt will likely head to Florida for a brief freshening in preparation for what his connections hope will be a successful march toward the first leg of the Triple Crown.
"This is a homebred, and that means so much to Sheikh Mohammed to be able to breed this type, raise them, and have them come through the Godolphin system," Bell said. "That's kind of a real bonus for us."