Knicks Go Wins Lukas Classic in Final Breeders' Cup Tune-Up

Knicks Go cruised under the wire as much the best in the Lukas Classic. (Coady Photography)

Knicks Go made his final prep race for the $6 million, Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic a winning one on Oct. 2, using his formidable cruising speed to defeat five opponents in the $400,000, Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs.

With regular jockey Joel Rosario aboard, the 5-year-old son of Paynter took command early in the 1 1/8-mile Lukas Classic and led the field through the backstretch and far turn with graded stakes winners Independence Hall and Sprawl providing minimal pressure. Knicks Go cocked his head a couple of times in the homestretch while gliding out toward the middle of the track, but Rosario kept him to task and he was never challenged in the final stages, defeating Independence Hall by four lengths as the heavy 1-10 favorite. Knicks Go completed the distance in 1:47.85 on a fast main track, .57 off of the track record for 1 1/8 miles set by Victory Gallop in 1999.

Independence Hall finished 1 ½ lengths clear of Grade 3 winner Shared Sense for second. Shared Sense edged multiple graded stakes winner and $3.7 million earner Tacitus by a head for third.

“I kept him off the rail today a little bit but he was going very easy,” Rosario said. “He’s a really fast horse and he did what he needed to do. He’s always been an impressive horse to ride and always been quick. Today he did things very easily and now on to bigger things.”

Maryland-bred Knicks Go, who is owned by Korea Racing Authority, entered the Lukas Classic off of a front-running 4 ½-length win over Maxfield in the $1 million, Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 7. He earned a “Win and You’re In” automatic berth in the Nov. 6 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic with that victory, and trainer Brad Cox decided to keep him at his home base of Churchill Downs for his final prep.

“We’re excited to get this race under our belt,” Cox said. “He’s a fast horse and he’s dangerous when he gets to show that speed around two turns. Joel gave him an easy trip on the front end. He seemed like he was able to take a breather and open back up around the turn. On to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Currently ranked first in the Breeders’ Cup media poll of contenders for the Longines Classic, Knicks Go earned his fourth win in six starts for 2021. All four of those wins have come at 1 1/8 miles around two turns. He boosted his 2021 earnings to $4,204,140 and his overall earnings to $5,553,135 from a record of 9-3-1 in 23 starts.

2021 Lukas Classic S.
October 2nd, 2021

2 Knicks Go
5 Independence Hall
  • Breeder / Woodford Thoroughbreds
4 Shared Sense
3 Tacitus
  • Owner / Juddmonte
  • Breeder / Juddmonte Farms Inc.
1 Chess Chief
6 Sprawl

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