Restless Rider winning the Debutante Stakes - Coady Photography

Restless Rider winning the Debutante Stakes – Coady Photography

There are some very promising young fillies entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, but by pretty much any metric you choose, #5 Restless Rider is the horse to beat.

Already the daughter of Distorted Humor has emerged as one of the best two-year-old fillies in the country, sandwiching runner-up efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga around a decisive victory in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

With her established Grade 1 form and strong record at Churchill Downs (she also won Churchill’s Debutante Stakes in June by nearly a dozen lengths), Restless Rider is among the early favorites for the 2019 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and indeed, trainer Kenny McPeek is already looking ahead to next season with his star filly.

“Restless Rider ran great in the Juvenile Fillies behind Jaywalk, who won wire to wire,” McPeek told Churchill Downs. “She definitely has the potential to make the Kentucky Oaks in the future. She reminds me a lot of [McPeek’s Grade 1 winner] Take Charge Lady and should only get better into next year.”

McPeek added that Restless Rider would be getting some time off after the Golden Rod. “We’re on our home court so we decided to take a chance to run right back here in the Golden Rod.”

#3 Reflect, runner-up behind Restless Rider in the Alcibiades, will attempt to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, in which she made an eye-catching middle move before running out of steam to finish ninth of ten. She’ll attract wagering support based on her extensive graded stakes experience, though it’s possible that the lightly-raced #4 Champagne Anyone could be just as talented. The daughter of Street Sense finished third in her debut, but has since scored back-to-back victories in maiden and allowance races at Ellis Park and Keeneland, rallying with determination on each occasion to win by narrow margins.

“She’s really growing up,” jockey Chris Landeros told Churchill Downs. “She won both of her races on raw talent. Once she gets older and more mature she could be really special.”

#2 High Regard, fourth behind Champagne Anyone in the latter’s allowance win, brings stakes experience into the Golden Rod, having come home third in the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs last month. #1 Gold Credit, a late-running debut winner at Keeneland, and #8 Break Curfew, a front-running victor in her first start at Belmont Park, will attempt to keep their unbeaten records intact while stepping up sharply in class and distance.

Completing the field are #7 Princess Causeway, winner of an off-the-turf allowance race at Keeneland, and #6 Liora, a nine-length maiden winner going 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, the same conditions as the Golden Rod.

The Golden Rod is the ninth race on the card, with a post time of 4:57 p.m. Eastern.