Churchill Downs’ stakes previews by the track’s PR team:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019) – WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner Quip will take on Winchell Thoroughbreds’ four-time winner Tenfold and eight other rivals under the lights in Saturday’s seventh running of the $250,000 Lukas Classic Presented by Budweiser (Grade III) – one of three stakes events on an action-packed 11-race card for the final Downs After Dark of 2019 at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/8-mile Lukas Classic, named in honor of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is the featured event of the night in Race 9 with a post time of 10:11 p.m. The first post is 6 p.m. The evening also features the $150,000 Ack Ack Presented by GE Appliances (GIII) and the $125,000 Jefferson Cup (Listed).
Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, Quip (10-4-2-1—$1,054,451) was the narrow runner-up finisher behind Seeking the Soul in the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII) during the Spring Meet at Churchill Downs prior to his nonplused ninth in the $1 million Pacific Classic (GI) at Del Mar. Quip began his 4-year-old campaign with a third-place effort in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope (GIII) at Gulfstream Park prior to the biggest win in his career in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (GII) in mid-April.
The son of Distorted Humor was on the Triple Crown trail in 2018 after winning the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (GII) but following his defeat against Justify in the $1.5 million Preakness (GI), Brisset gave the Kentucky-bred colt more than nine months on the sidelines before he returned in 2019.
Regular rider Florent Geroux has the mount on Quip, who drew post position No. 4.
Joining Quip in the starting gate is multiple graded stakes-winning Tenfold (12-4-0-1—$961,890) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4-year-old son of Curlin most recently finished fourth in the Pacific Classic and hopes to secure his first victory since winning the $300,000 Pimlico Special (GIII) in May.
Like Quip, Tenfold ran in some of the top 3-year-old races in 2019. The colt did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby but instead rerouted to a third-place effort in the Preakness prior to winning the $600,000 Jim Dandy (GII) at Saratoga.
Regular pilot Ricardo Santana Jr. will be in the irons from post 6.
Also entered in the Lukas Classic is Steve Landers Racing’s $100,000 Schaefer Memorial winner Pioneer Spirit, who is slated to return from a two-month layoff in search of his first graded stakes score.
Trained by Brad Cox, Pioneer Spirit (25-9-4-7—$587,450) was a former $35,000 claim in 2017 and has since won six races including back-to-back editions of the Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand.
Shaun Bridgmohan has the return call and will break from post 7.
Another top challenger in the Lukas Classic is $200,000 West Virginia Governors Stakes (GIII) winner Silver Dust (23-5-6-2—$594,777), who will attempt to turn the tables on Pioneer Spirit after finishing a head back of him in the Schaefer Memorial.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Silver Dust will be piloted by regular rider Jack Gilligan out of post 9.
Another entrant in the race who has been facing the likes of Pioneer Spirit and Silver Dust is Mexican-bred Kukulkan. A multiple Grade I winner in his native country, Kukulkan (18-15-1-1—$613,200) finished a length behind Pioneer Spirit and Silver Dust in the Schaefer Memorial and was a half-length behind Silver Dust in the West Virginia Governors Stakes.
Corey Laneire has the call on the Fausto Gutierrez-trainee from post 8.
The complete 10-horse Lukas Classic field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and weight):Hawaakom (Miguel Mena, Wes Hawley, 121 pounds); Blueridge Traveler (Julien Leparoux, Kenny McPeek, 121); Big Dollar Bill (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes, 121); Quip (Geroux, Brisset, 125); Sir Anthony(James Graham, Anthony Mitchell, 123); Tenfold (Santana, Asmussen, 123); Pioneer Spirit (Bridgmohan, Cox, 121); Kukulkan (MEX) (Lanerie, Gutierrez, 121); and Silver Dust (Gilligan, Calhoun, 123)
Presented by Budweiser, the theme for Saturday night’s Downs After Downs event is “Bourbon & Beats.” Guests are encouraged to wear shades of purple and stay on trend with autumn fashion as they celebrate a pairing of Kentucky sounds and spirits. Admission gates open Saturday at 5 p.m. and the final race of the evening is scheduled for 11:10 p.m. General admission is $12 and reserved seat packages start at $27, which are available for purchase on www.ChurchillDowns.com.
The National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for mostly sunny skies with a high near 90.
Saturday is the penultimate day of Churchill Downs’ 11-date September Meet. Closing day is Sunday.
WEST COAST INVADER AIR STRIKE HEADS GRADE III, $150,000 ACK ACK
Madaket Stables, Slam Dunk Racing and Michael Nentwig’s graded stakes-winning Air Strike will invade Churchill Downs from California and headline a field of nine older horses in Saturday’s 27th running of the $150,000 Ack Ack Presented by GE Appliances (Grade III).
The one-turn mile race is one of three stakes events scheduled on the penultimate racing program of the track’s 11-day September Meet. Also on the Saturday schedule are the $250,000 Lukas Classic (GIII), a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, and the $125,000 Jefferson Cup (Listed), a 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds on the Matt Winn Turf Course. The Ack Ack is carded as the seventh of 11 races on the program that begins at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern). Post time for the Ack Ack is scheduled for 9:05 p.m.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Air Strike (12-3-2-1—$337,310) defeated seven rivals in the $200,000 Triple Bend (GII) at Santa Anita in May. The Street Sense colt most recently finished fourth in the $600,000 Forego at Saratoga. Air Strike was a late-developing colt and debuted in the summer of 2018. The now 4-year-old will be reunited with jockey Florent Geroux for the Ack Ack from post 2. Geroux rode Air Strike as a 3-year-old to a runner-up effort in the $250,000 Zia Park Derby and sixth-place finish in the $300,000 San Antonio (GII).
Among Air Strike’s rivals in the Ack Ack is Kristin Boice, Leslie Cummings and Valorie Lund’s 10-time winner Mr. Jagermeister. The Minnesota-bred son of Lund’s prized stallion Atta Boy Roy, Mr.Jagermeister (17-10-3-2—$493,537) sports three wins in a row entering the Ack Ack, including a 5 ¼-length score in the $100,000 Minnesota Sprint Championship at his home track of Canterbury Park.
Regular rider Leandro Goncalves will have the mount from post 6.
Another horse likely to garner attention in the Ack Ack is Two Dimes Stables’ six-time winner Mr Darcy, who finished a game second behind Recruiting Ready in a competitive-allowance contest two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Recruiting Ready will likely be one of the top contenders in next Friday’s $250,000 Phoenix (GII) at Keeneland.
Mr Darcy (25-6-6-4—$244,076) won back-to-back allowance contests this summer at Ellis Park for veteran conditioner Angel Montano Sr. Jesus Castanon has the call from post 5.
The complete Ack Ack field, in order of post position (with jockey and trainer): Olympic Village(David Cohen, Bob Hess Jr.); Air Strike (Geroux, D’Amato); C Z Rocket (Calvin Borel, Al Stall Jr.); Thirstforlife (Miguel Mena, Wes Hawley); Mr Darcy (Castanon, Montano); Mr. Jagermeister (Goncalves, Lund); Mr Freeze (Martin Chuan, Dale Romans); Timeline (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); and Unmatchable (Tyler Baze, Asmussen).
All horses will tote 121 pounds, except for Olympic Village who will tote 118 and Air Strike who will carry 125.
CAESARS WINNER CORRUZE TOPS WIDE-OPEN $125,000 JEFFERSON CUP
Chris Wilkins’ $200,000 Caesars Stakes winner Corruze leads a field of eight 3-year-olds in Saturday night’s 43rd running of the $125,000 Jefferson Cup (Listed) at Churchill Downs.
Carded as Race 8 with a post time of 9:39 p.m. (all times Eastern), the 1 1/8-mile turf contest is the second of three-consecutive stakes events on Saturday’s 11-race Downs After Dark program which also features the $150,000 Ack Ack (GIII) and $250,000 Lukas Classic (Grade III).
Trained by Chris Hartman, Corruze actually crossed the wire second in the Caesars Stakes at Indiana Grand but was subsequently elevated to first following the disqualification of fellow Jefferson Cup contender Spectacular Gem. Corruze (6-3-0-0—$182,389) will be ridden by Corey Lanerie from post 3.
Just to the inside of Corruze is the aforementioned Spectacular Gem who nearly pulled of a 35-1 upset in the Caesars Stakes. Instead, the state stewards ruled the 3-year-old colt interfered with several horses in deep stretch of the one-mile event and was demoted to fourth. Owned by Candie Baker and trained by Jimmy Baker, Spectacular Gem (10-2-1-3—$85,970) will remove blinkers for the Jefferson Cup and be ridden by James Graham.
Also entered in the Jefferson Cup is Sagamore Farm’s Scars Are Cool, who will test turf for the first time following an unsuccessful effort in the $1.25 million Travers (GI) at Saratoga. Conditioned by veteran Stan Hough, Scars Are Cool (4-1-0-1—$58,020) will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. from the rail.
The Jefferson Cup field, from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Scars Are Cool (Santana, Hough); Spectacular Gem (Graham, Baker); Corruze (Lanerie, Hartman); Mick’s Star (Florent Geroux, Tom Amoss); Faraway Kitten (Julien Leparoux, Mike Maker); Tracksmith (Adam Beschizza, Joe Sharp); Rijeka (Chris Landeros, Richard Baltas); and Clint Maroon (Channing Hill, Wayne Catalano).