BAFFERTâ€™S LORD NELSON MADE 5-2 FAVE FOR SATURDAYâ€™S KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014) â€“ Peachtree Stableâ€™s Lord Nelson, a runaway winner of the $101,000 Speakeasy at Santa Anita from the power-packed barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, landed post nine and was made the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of 12 juveniles that were entered for Saturdayâ€™s 88th running of the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.
Saturdayâ€™s 1 1/16-mile race is the co-headliner on the penultimate day of the 26-date Fall Meet. Billed as â€œStars of Tomorrow II,â€ each of the 12 races is exclusively for 2-year-olds that may have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next springâ€™s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Longines Kentucky Oaks.
The Kentucky Jockey Club â€“ a â€œPrep Seasonâ€ race on the â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€ in which the Top 4 finishers will receive 10-4-2-1 points, respectively â€“ goes as Race 11 at 5:35 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 12:40 p.m.
Lord Nelson is one of four stakes winners in the field of a dozen 2-year-olds. The race also attracted Canadaâ€™s Grey (GIII) victor International Star, trained by Mike Maker and owned by Churchill Downsâ€™ all-time leading owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey; Jerry Durantâ€™s Iroquois (GIII) champ Lucky Player from the barn two-time KJC winner Steve Asmussen (Private Vow in 2005 and Tapiture in 2013); and Godolphinâ€™s Pilgrim hero (GIII) Imperia, whoâ€™ll race on dirt for the first time for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Graded stakes placed El Kabeir, runner-up to Blofeld in the Nashua (GII) at Aqueduct, also was entered and is the 7-2 second betting choice on oddsmaker Mike Battagliaâ€™s morning line. The Scat Daddy colt is owned Zayat Stables, LLC and is trained by John Terranova II.
California-based Lord Nelson, a Kentucky-bred son of Pulpit out of the Seeking the Gold mare African Jade, won the Oct. 13 Speakeasy in his third career start. He clocked six furlongs that day in 1:09.25 just 16 days after finishing fourth behind American Pharoah, Calculator and eventual Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red in Santa Anitaâ€™s FrontRunner (GI).
â€œHe was coming back so quick, but he sort of needed the race,â€ Baffert said after the Speakeasy. â€œHe got a little tired (in the FrontRunner). I didnâ€™t run him towards the end there at Del Mar. Heâ€™d been working well and heâ€™s got a lot of speed, but heâ€™s ready to go further. â€¦ (Peachtree owner John Fort) wants to go to the Kentucky Derby badly. The horse will go long. Heâ€™s fast. He really needed that race (FrontRunner). Heâ€™s a heavy horse. Heâ€™ll get better with age.â€
Lord Nelson enters the Kentucky Jockey Club with a record of 3-2-0-0â€”$123,000. His regular rider Martin Garcia will be aboard for the mount.
Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, won back-to-back renewals of the Kentucky Jockey Club in 1998-99 with Exploit and Captain Steve, respectively.
The complete Kentucky Jockey Club field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Sky Hero (Julien Leparoux, 6-1); Eagle (Brian Hernandez Jr., 12-1); International Star (Rafael Hernandez, 8-1); Moonlight Bandit (Cornelio Velasquez, 30-1); El Kabeir (Calvin Borel, 7-2); Lucky Player (Ricardo Santana Jr., 6-1); War Point (Channing Hill, 50-1); Imperia (Robby Albarado, 8-1); Lord Nelson (Garcia, 5-2); Majestico (Jon Court, 15-1); Flashaway (Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1); and Jumpin Frac Flash (15-1).
Sky Hero, Flashaway and Moonlight Bandit are a three-pronged entry by owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse, who teamed to win the 2012 Kentucky Jockey Club with Uncaptured. Oxley has won the KJC two other times with Jambalaya Jazz (1994) and Beethoven (2008).
Flashaway, a runner-up to stablemate Sky Hero in a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs, and opening day maiden winner Moonlight Bandit were cross-entered in Saturdayâ€™s $400,000 Remsen (GII) at Aqueduct. A decision looms for Casse as to which race theyâ€™ll contest. Earlier this week, he was concerned about an outside post in a large field, which could be disadvantageous for Flashaway, who was drawn in post 11.
William S. Farishâ€™s Eagle, conditioned by Neil Howard, enters the KJC off an eye-catching allowance win over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on Oct. 22.
â€œHeâ€™s a lovely colt, and so far heâ€™s been doing real well,â€ Howard said. â€œHe had a little bit of growing up to do, but he made tremendous strides and Iâ€™ve been very pleased with him.â€
Magic City Thoroughbred Partnersâ€™ Jumpin Frac Flash wheels back 16 days after a visually impressive, five-length maiden win at Churchill Downs going one mile for trainer Kenny McPeek, a winner of the 2001 Kentucky Jockey Club with Repent.
â€œHis last race was real impressive and I think he wants two turns instead of the flat mile,â€ McPeek said.
Like Imperia, Calumet Farmâ€™s Majestico will try dirt for the first time after winning a maiden special weight on turf at Keeneland. His trainer, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, has won the Kentucky Jockey Club a record four times: Notebook (1987), Grand Canyon (1989), Dance Floor (1991) and Cape Town (1997).
War Point, a victor on grass last time out at Indiana Downs, hails from the same camp that campaigned this yearâ€™s Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Ride On Curlin: owner Dan Dougherty and trainer Billy Gowan.
Saturdayâ€™s forecast for Louisville calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high near 55 degrees and chance of sprinkles after 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
All starters will carry 122 pounds. El Kabeir will race with blinkers off.
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