While the finish figures to be more difficult to predict, on paper Almost Famous looks like he will be the early leader in the $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs.
Chuck and Maribeth Sandford's talented Almost Famous could carry that speed to the wire in the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds. The Unbridled's Song colt has gone gate-to-wire in winning two of three starts, including a six-length score in a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race Nov. 9 at Churchill.
In that most recent victory, Almost Famous and jockey Corey Lanerie broke from the rail and they again will start from the inside post in Saturday's field of 10 juveniles.
"He's a nice horse," Lanerie said. "He's made right. He's got all the credentials to be a good horse. His disposition is good and he's got a lot of class about him. He was in high-cruising speed (in the allowance win) and the good thing is he looked like he could have gone a little bit further."
While Almost Famous figures to go to the lead early, grade I-placed Arctic Slope typically has rallied. The Van Nistelrooy colt came from fourth to win a Sept. 14 maiden special weight race at Churchill before finishing third in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) Oct. 5 at Keeneland after racing in 12th early.
Shortleaf Stable's Arctic Slope will have to bounce back from a 10th-place finish in the allowance optional claiming race won by Almost Famous. He will receive race-day Salix for the first time.
The field, which does not have a previous stakes winner, also includes grade III-placed Tapiture. Ron Winchell's son of Tapit , still a maiden, led in the stretch of the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) before fading to third.
$150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II, race11, approximate post time 5:35 p.m. EST) 2yo, 1 1/16 miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Almost Famous (KY), C. Lanerie, P. Byrne
2. Culprit (KY), M. Mena, D. Romans
3. Mygalsal (KY), J. Court, G. Simms
4. Awesome Sky (KY), S. Bridgmohan, M. Casse
5. Notability (KY), B. Hernandez Jr., D. Romans
6. Tapiture (KY), R. Santanna Jr., S. Asmussen
7. Laddie Boy (KY), J. Castanon, C. Peery
8. Arctic Slope (KY), R. Albarado, K. McPeek
9. Dobra Historia (KY), J. Leparoux, W. Mott
10. Buck Magic (KY), J. Rocco Jr., B. Colebrook
All assigned 122 pounds.