A look at Keeneland’s FallStars Weekend stakes

Today’s Keeneland media notes (Coady Photography photo of Phoenix contender Just Might capturing Churchill Downs’ Louisville Thoroughbred Society Stakes.

Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Special Reserve headlines a field of seven sprinters entered Tuesday for Friday’s 169th running of the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) going 6 furlongs on the main track. Friday is opening day of Keeneland’s Fall Meet, which marks the track’s 85th anniversary.

Scheduled as the eighth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:10 p.m. ET post time, the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner receiving a fees-paid berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 6 at Del Mar.

Trained by Mike Maker, Special Reserve has compiled a 6-4-2-0 record in 2021 and enters Friday’s race off a runner-up effort in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga on July 31. In his lone Keeneland start, Special Reserve was second in this spring’s Commonwealth (G3).

Joel Rosario, who was aboard in the Vanderbilt, has the mount Friday out of post position six.

Looming as the main threat to Special Reserve is Griffon Farms and trainer Michelle Lovell’s Just Might.

Winner of his past four starts, all coming in stakes, Just Might enters Friday’s race off dirt victories at Colonial Downs and most recently at Churchill Downs. Colby Hernandez has the mount from post four.

The field for the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, with riders and weights from the inside, is: Quick Tempo (Sophie Doyle, 118), Mucho (Reylu Gutierrez, 120), Endorsed (Julien Leparoux, 120), Just Might (Hernandez, 120), Aloha West (Jose Ortiz, 120), Special Reserve (Rosario, 120), Sir Alfred James (Corey Lanerie, 120).


Trainer Brad Cox unleashed a couple of coming attractions here last fall for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland when Essential Quality and Aunt Pearl (IRE) used Keeneland stakes victories as a springboard to respective triumphs in the TVG Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Cox is hoping for a repeat performance in a trio of upcoming Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, which provide the winners with a fees-paid berth into their respective races at Del Mar Nov. 5-6.

Friday’s 1 1/16-mile Darley Alcibiades (G1) is first for Cox with a spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 5 on the line. Cox won the Darley Alcibiades in 2019 with British Idiom, who came back four weeks later to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.

This year, he has Godolphin’s Matareya and Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map in the race.

“We have always thought highly of her,” Cox said of Matareya, who won her lone start by 4½ lengths at Ellis Park on Aug. 20. “Juju’s Map, I like her a lot. She is a little more seasoned than Matareya, and she has won at a mile (at Ellis Park).”

Cox plans to run Shortleaf Stable’s Vivar in Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile Castle & Key Bourbon (G2), a “Win and You’re In” race for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), also on Nov. 5.

“He ran well at Kentucky Downs,” Cox said of Vivar, who won going a mile as the 1-2 favorite. “He finished well.”

Hoping to follow in Aunt Pearl’s footsteps for Cox is Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Turnerloose, who is being pointed to next Wednesday’s 1 1/16-mile JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2), a “Win and You’re In” race for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 5.

“I like her a lot, too,” Cox said of Turnerloose, who has won twice going a mile with the latter score coming in the Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies (L) at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 6.

Cox, whose 1-2 punch of Essential Quality and Knicks Go is targeting the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), plans to run Juddmonte’s Bonny South in Sunday’s 1 1/8-mile Juddmonte Spinster (G1). The Juddmonte Spinster is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

“She’s doing very well, and her last two works at Churchill Downs have been very good,” Cox said of Bonny South, who won the Baird Doubledogdare (G3) here in April. “We will see if she can close the gap on Letruska a little more.”

Bonny South has chased Letruska twice in 2021, finishing second by 2 ¾ lengths in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and in her most recent start was second by a half-length in the Personal Ensign (G1).

Cox already has Shedaresthedevil targeting the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and is considering Donegal Racing’s Ready to Purrform, winner of last Saturday’s Laurel Futurity, for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.


Fall Stars Saturday races – entries taken Wednesday

*$750,000 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) Probable: Diamond Oops (Patrick Biancone), Field Pass (Mike Maker), Front Run the Fed (Caio Caramori), In Love (BRZ) (Paulo Lobo), Ivar (BRZ) (Lobo), Monarchs Glen (GB) (Maker), Order of Australia (IRE) (Aidan O’Brien), Somelikeithotbrown (Maker), Space Traveller (GB) (Brendan Walsh), Tell Your Daddy (Tom Morley).

*$500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Probable: American Sanctuary (Chris Davis), Classic Causeway (Brian Lynch), Costa Terra (Steve Asmussen), Don’t Wait Up (Anthony Dutrow), Double Thunder (Todd Pletcher), Great Escape (Pletcher), Kevin’s Folly (Tom Amoss), King Curlin (Brittany Vanden Berg), Mac’s Time (Dale Romans), Mr. Bouma (Romans), Rattle N Roll (Kenny McPeek), Stellar Tap (Asmussen), Texas Red Hot (Randy Morse).

*$400,000 First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare Probable: Abscond (Eddie Kenneally), Althiqa (GB) (Charles Appleby), Blowout (GB) (Chad Brown), Daddy Is a Legend (George Weaver), Dalika (GER) (Al Stall Jr.), Empress Josephine (IRE) (Aidan O’Brien), Harvey’s Lil Goil (Bill Mott), Hendy Woods (Mark Casse), Regal Glory (Brown), Viadera (GB) (Brown).

*$250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) Probable: Club Car (Ben Colebrook), Estilo Talentoso (Juan Arriagada), Frank’s Rockette (Bill Mott), Inthemidstofbiz (Cipriano Contreras), Miss Mosaic (Colebrook).

$200,000 Woodford (G2) Presented by TVG Probable: County Final (Steve Asmussen), Extravagant Kid (Brendan Walsh), Golden Pal (Wesley Ward), Inhalation (GB) (Edward Vaughan), Johnny Unleashed (Eric Foster). Possible: Shackleford’s Joy (D. Wayne Lukas)

Fall Stars Sunday races – entries taken Thursday

*$500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) Probable: Bonny South (Brad Cox), Crystal Ball (Rodolphe Brisset), Dunbar Road (Chad Brown), Envoutante (Kenny McPeek), Letruska (Fausto Gutierrez), Naval Laughter (Chris Davis).

*$200,000 Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) Probable: Brit’s Wit (Andrew McKeever), Credibility (Mark Casse), Dowagiac Chief (Tom Amoss), Fast N Steady (Javier Gonzalez), Grael (Brendan Walsh), Martini’nmoonshine (Tom Amoss), On Thin Ice (Casse), Play Action Pass (Robert Medina), Red Danger (Brian Lynch), Tiz the Bomb (Kenny McPeek), Vivar (Brad Cox).

*$200,000 Indian Summer (L) Presented by Keeneland Select Probable: Averly Jane (Wesley Ward), Big Boss Ben (John Ortiz), Bonus Appreciation (Steve Asmussen), Detroit City (Jack Sisterson), Kaufymaker (Ward), Roman Poet (Tom Amoss).

*Breeders’ Cup Challenge races


All year

Official Keeneland Tours. A variety of guided walking tours showcase Keeneland’s Thoroughbred racing and sales operations. Click here for more information.

Every race day (Oct. 8-30)

The new Keeneland Turf Pick 3 wager will be offered on the final three turf races each race day. The minimum wager is $3 and will follow the same rules as the traditional Pick 3. The new wager has a 15 percent takeout, the same low takeout as Keeneland’s popular Pick 5 wager.

Keeneland Select Handicapping Challenge. Sport of Kings, the free horse racing contest website, has this new free online handicapping contest for casual fans and serious horseplayers. The contest requires participants to make mythical selections on two Keeneland races for each day of the meet. Two seats to the 2022 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship will be awarded. To sign up, click here.

Every Friday and Saturday of Fall Meet

The Hill. At this popular tailgating area, fans can watch and wager while enjoying the racing action from the Jumbotron and wagering tent, while food trucks and live music presented by The Burl create a festive atmosphere. No ticket or reservation is required for The Hill.

Friday, Oct. 8

$200,000 Guaranteed Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG.

Friday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 10

The Keeneland Shop Presents “Meet the Maker” at Milliners Corner with Christine A. Moore Millinery.

Every Saturday of Fall Meet

Sunrise Trackside. This free Saturday morning program is geared toward families and offers a unique view of Thoroughbreds during training hours. Children’s activities from 8-10 a.m. include a meet and greet with Keeneland mascot Buckles, along with face painting, games and more. 

Fans can purchase coffee and donuts while watching horses train. The Keeneland Track Kitchen at the east end of the stable area (with no track view) is open for breakfast that includes “grab and go” and seating options. A 30-minute Paddock demonstration by an equine-related organization takes place at 10 a.m. Mini tours will be available at the Welcome Stand in the Paddock.

Saturday, Oct. 9

Jockey Autograph Signing. Fans will meet active and retired Keeneland riders and Hall of Famers in an event that benefits the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Signing takes place 11 a.m. to noon.

$300,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Saturday Pick 5 and $400,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Saturday Pick 4.

Saturday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 10

Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Pick 6, featuring races from Belmont Park and Keeneland.

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.