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Curly Jack Returns to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club – Horse Racing News


Curly Jack before its October 28 breeze at Keeneland

Michael McLaughlin’s $300,000 Iroquois Stakes (Grade 3) winner Curly Jack leads a field of nine two-year-old colts competing Saturday in the 96th edition of the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), a prep season race en route to , the Kentucky Derby was announced.

The Kentucky Jockey Club, which runs at 1 1/16 miles, awards points to the top 5 finishers on a scale of 10-4-3-2-1 for a spot in the starting gate for the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

First post Saturday is 1pm and the 12 race program includes all 2 year races as part of Stars of Tomorrow II. The Kentucky Jockey Club will start race 11 at 5:56 p.m. (all times Eastern). The map also includes the $400,000 Golden Rod (G2), the $200,000 Ed Brown, and the $200,000 Fern Creek.

Curly Jack began his march on the Road to the Kentucky Derby when he picked up a surprise 10-1 win at the Sept. 17 Iroquois. The Good Magic son made his debut on June 2 at Churchill Downs where he retired to a four-time first specialweight win under jockey Colby Hernandez. On his first stakes attempt, Curly Jack finished fifth in the $175,000 Sanford (G3) in Saratoga, beaten by 5 ¾ lengths. The Tom Amoss trainee returned in the $125,000 Ellis Park Juvenile, where he was narrowly defeated by Top Recruit. In his most recent start, Curly Jack attempted to achieve Class 1 glory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but finished fifth. Jockey Edgar Morales will be in the irons for the Kentucky Jockey Club and the duo will break off the rails.

Another stakes winner inducted into the Kentucky Jockey Club is Gatsas Stables, RA Hill Stable and Steven Schoenfeld’s $120,000 award winner Freedom Trail. Trained by John Terranova, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club with El Kabeir in 2014, Freedom Trail has ridden all grass in his first two starts. He broke his maiden on September 25th during the Belmont meeting in the aqueduct and returned for three quarters of a length in the 1 1/16 mile awad. The Collected son is ridden by Florent Geroux by Post No. 6.

Trainer Kenny McPeek has won two of the last four heats of the Kentucky Jockey Club with Signalman (2018) and Smile Happy (2021). The veteran conditioning trainer entered two stallions for this year’s competition: Fern Circle Stables and Magdalena Racing’s maiden specialweight winner Denington and Dixiana Farms’ Street Sense (G3) runner-up Hayes Strike. Denington will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr from post 3 while Hayes Strike will break from post 7 with Rafael Bejarano.

Other top horses inducted into the Kentucky Jockey Club include Albaugh Family Stables and Castleton Lyon’s 5 ¼-Length Maid Special Weight winner Cyclone Mischief and Gold Square’s debut winner Instant Coffee.

Here is the complete field for the Kentucky Jockey Club from the track (with jockey and trainer):

  1. Curly Jack (Morales, Amoss);
  2. Western Ghent (Mickaelle Michel, D. Wayne Lukas);
  3. Denington (Hernandez, McPeek);
  4. Giants (Corey Lanerie, Steve Asmussen);
  5. Red Route One (Tyler Gaffalione, Steve Asmussen);
  6. Freedom Walk (Geroux, Terranova);
  7. Hayes Strike (Bejarano, McPeek);
  8. instant coffee (Luis Saez, Cox); and
  9. Hurricane Mischief (Joe Talamo, Dale Romans).

Established in 2005, Churchill Downs’ Stars of Tomorrow programs have helped launch the careers of numerous Graded Stakes winners, including more than 50 Grade 1 winners, led by Gun Runner (2017) and Rachel Alexandra (2009 ), the Champions of Horse of the Year; Kentucky Derby winners Super Saver (2010) and Mandaloun (2021); and Longines Kentucky Oaks winners Rachel Alexandra (2009), Believe You Can (2012), Monomoy Girl (2018), and Secret Oath (2022).

All of Saturday’s action at Churchill Downs will be broadcast on FanDuel TV.

Betting is available for the Stars of Tomorrow II program at, the official bookmaker for Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby.

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