It will not be long before the 2-year-olds of 2019 turn into the Triple Crown hopefuls of 2020. But before Jan. 1 rolls around, there are still a few chances for young horses to shine as a juvenile. One of them comes in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile stakes that will serve as an intriguing barometer of future success at 3 while offering an opportunity to pick up some important points toward nailing down a spot in the Kentucky Derby. In the case of probable favorite Tiz the Law, it could also be the key to being voted the 2-year-old champion.
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade 2)
Racetrack: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.
Date: Nov. 30
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Post Time: 5:56 p.m. ET
Notable winners: McCraken (2016), Super Saver (2009), The Cliff’s Edge (2003), Captain Steve (1999), Run Dusty Run (1976), Cannonade (1973).
First held: 1935
1. Enforceable (8-1): Jumped from a maiden win to a Grade 1 stakes in the Breeders’ Futurity and rallied from seventh to finish third. Took a big step forward in that first try against winners and should work out a helpful, ground-saving trip from the rail that figures to put him in the mix.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Mark Casse
2. Fighting Seabee (8-1): Staged a nice rally in the one-turn mile Street Sense Stakes here at Churchill Downs and should relish the two-turn distance. Has already handled two turns on turf and should be able to make his presence felt in the final furlong. Trainer Keny McPeek and jockey Brian Hernandez won this stakes last year with Signalman.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez TRAINER: Kenny McPeek
3. Tiz the Law (7-5): He’s undefeated after two starts in New York and a win would make him a serious candidate for the 2-year-old title. Beat fellow New York-breds at Saratoga in his debut and then rolled to a decisive four-length victory in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Skipped the Breeders’ Cup to prifinnioint for this spot and his recent works indicate he’s primed for a big effort off an eight-week break.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco TRAINER: Barclay Tagg
4. South Bend (9-5): Is undefeated after three starts and looks like the main competition. Lacked running room in the Street Sense but then moved out a bit, found a seam and surged to victory. Gets his first test at two turns but the steady progression he has made in his three starts speaks well for his ability to handle that challenge.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux TRAINER: Stanley Hough
5. Silver Prospector (8-1): Has taken some nice steps forward after moving to the main track two starts ago. Drew clear to take his dirt debut by two lengths in a sprint and then set a quick, contested pace in the Street Sense before settling for third. Gets some added distance here but the likelihood of a softer pace could help him stick around until the end for the highly effective combo of jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and trainer Steve Asmussen.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr. TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
6. Finnick the Fierce (30-1): Looks like he should relish stretching out from sprints as he rallied from ninth in a 6 ½-furlong allowance race to finish fourth, just 1 ½ lengths behind the winner. The key question is whether he’s fast enough and classy enough to handle stakes competition.
JOCKEY: Sonny Leon TRAINER: Rey Hernandez
7. New Eagle (20-1): Showed little in his career debut on dirt then ran second and first on turf. Interesting to see him back on dirt, but some turf horses have done well on Churchill Downs’ main track in the past and maybe he can add his name to that list.
JOCKEY: Channing Hill TRAINER: Mike Maker
8. Two Last Words (20-1): The Indiana-bred was a one-paced third in his first try around two turns in a state-bred stakes. The distance, an outside post, and big class jump paint him as a longshot.
JOCKEY: Jose Riquelme TRAINER: Tim Glyshaw
9. Shotski (12-1): Exited a maiden win at Laurel Park and ran evenly in the Street Sense to wind up fourth. The post doesn’t help, but he has made steady progress in his three starts and continued improvement will put him in the mix here.
JOCKEY: Sheldon Russell TRAINER: Jeremiah O’Dwyer
THE PICK: Tiz the Law
LIVE LONGSHOT: Silver Prospector/Fighting Seabee