Sunday’s $300,000 Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes at Churchill Downs might have a hefty purse, but it also has an unusual condition for eligibility.
According to the official race conditions, the seven-furlong event is “for two-year-olds, sired by any Spendthrift owned stallion that stood at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, or any other location, including Louisiana, Maryland, New York, or Canada in the 2015 breeding season.”
That might seem restrictive, but when you consider that Spendthrift Farm stood a staggering 26 stallions in 2015—including such nationally prominent sires as Into Mischief and Malibu Moon—it quickly becomes clear that the pool of eligible horses is sizable, which is why Churchill Downs had no difficulty filling the Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes with nine starters.
In terms of accomplishments, B. B. Dude stands out by virtue of victories in the Manzano Stakes and Kip Deville Stakes, though those races came at Albuquerque and Remington Park, so he’ll be facing tougher competition at Churchill Downs. Nevertheless, with three wins from four starts, this Steve Asmussen-trained colt is a proven runner with an affinity for the winner’s circle, and that’s not to be underestimated.
Casa Creed and Achilles Warrior are two other runners with stakes experience, having finished seventh and tenth in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) after breaking their maidens at Saratoga. The sharp drop in class for Sunday’s race could help them rebound and vie for victory, particularly in the case of Achilles Warrior, who was compromised by trying to keep up with a very fast pace early on in the Champagne.
Distorted Jimmy, a gate-to-wire maiden winner at Churchill Downs last month, should be among the pace players for young trainer Norm Casse and might even be able to shake loose on a clear lead. In contrast, Gentle Warrior figures to be closing fast from off the pace after finishing a late-running third in his debut at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes. Gentle Warrior will add Lasix for Sunday’s race and could take a step forward while making his second career start.
Three fillies will also contest the Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes, led by Into the South, a daughter of Into Mischief who finished fourth in the Matron Stakes (gr. III) on turf at Belmont Park on October 8th. She has yet to finish out of the exacta in three starts on dirt and could be among the favorites with jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle.
The other two female entrants are Naughty Joker, runner-up in a maiden race on turf at Kentucky Downs for trainer Wesley Ward, and Kajawa, who broke her maiden sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs last month. Completing the field is the gelding Dunph, an 8 ½-length debut winner at Penn National who will race with Lasix for the first time on Sunday.
The Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes is the tenth race on the card, with a post time of 5:36 p.m. Eastern.