Dismissed when he steamrolled the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last month at 70-1, Knicks Go more than validated that performance, this time at 40.50-1, by finishing second to Game Winner on Friday in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
The Maryland-bred colt got away with an easy lead and cruised to a 5 1/2-length score in the Breeders’ Futurity. There was no easy lead to be had on Friday, with second choice Complexity showing the way and Knicks Go settling in the second spot most of the way. Knicks Go grabbed the lead after six furlongs in the Juvenile and gave way grudgingly as even-money favorite Game Winner bore down on him in the stretch and prevailed by 2 1/4 lengths.
“That was a thrill,” said trainer Ben Colebrook. “Turning for home, I thought he we might get there, but [Game Winner] was the one to beat all along. Maybe people will start giving [Knicks Go] some respect now, because he’s a nice horse.”
Further verifying the strength of Knicks Go’s Breeders’ Futurity triumph was Signalman, who checked in third in the Juvenile at a whopping 67.50-1.
So has Knicks Go bridged the gap from being seen as a fluky question mark to a legitimate candidate for next spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve? Colebrook, a 40-year-old Tennessee native who opened up his own stable in 2013, has never had a Derby runner and would embrace the opportunity.
“Yeah, I mean, why not?” Colebrook said of pointing the colt for the Derby trail. “I mean, the Derby is a long way off and I’m sure a lot of people are catching Derby fever right now, but we will see if he is up to it. There is a race here in three weeks [the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24] if he bounces out really well or we might just shut him down for the winter."
The 2019 trail for Knicks Go would probably begin at Tampa Bay Downs, where Colebrook will be stabled this coming winter. The last two years, Tampa Bay has been a stop on the road to glory for Always Dreaming, who won an allowance there in the lead-up to his Kentucky Derby win in 2017, and Catholic Boy, who captured Tampa’s Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes and starred this summer with victories in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and Travers Stakes.
Knicks Go also boosted his credentials for the Korean Racing Authority, which purchased him as a yearling for $87,000 and placed him with Colebrook with the hopes that he would someday do enough to be a stallion in South Korea. Those prospects are certainly looking good.
“This is great for the KRA and I am glad they are seeing some success because I think it’s a program that makes a lot of sense, to try to establish their own stallions here,” Colebrook said.