Wide Open Field of 15 Take Aim at Dixiana Bourbon Stakes
Courtesy of Aaron Halterman of the Racing Dudes
A field of 15 juveniles will contest this year’s running of the Grade 3, $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keenelend Race Course. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Juvenile Turf Stakes on November 2 at Churchill Downs. From a competitive standpoint, you may not find a better race all weekend. All 15 horses line up in this race with a major shot, making it one of the best betting opportunities that you will see all year. Leading this field is the undefeated Henley’s Joy, winner of the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes in his last start by a head. Also in the race is War of Will, who was narrowly defeated by 3/4 lengths last time out in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine.
The winner of the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
Let’s take a look at the full field:
#1 War of Will – There is a chance that this is the best maiden in the country. It is hard to believe he is winless, especially considering his effort last time out in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes. After stalking the early pace, War of Will took the lead in deep stretch, only to be passed in the final stages by Fog of War to lose by 3/4 of a length. That race showed his true talents and that a stretch out in distance should suit him very well.
#2 Icy City Ghost – He won his turf debut in the $60,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs, which tells you how he likes the surface. In that start, he shot to the lead right out of the gate and never looked back for a 2 1/4-length wire-to-wire victory. He won that race as a maiden after he struggled in his career debut, which came on the dirt.
#3 Henley’s Joy – He is an undefeated two-for-two coming into this event. After breaking his maiden at Ellis Park, he stepped up in class last time out to win the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile by a head as the favorite. With two wins under his belt, including a stakes victory, he is the most established horse in the race and will be the post-time favorite.
#4 Concrete Rose – The filly takes on the boys after winning her career debut in a maiden special weight, going 5 1/2 furlongs on the Saratoga turf. In that spot, she fell way behind early but commenced a huge rally to win by 1 3/4 lengths in the end. She also defeated a next-out winner in that spot, so that competition was fairly strong.
#5 Forloveofcountry – After spending the summer in California, Forloveofcountry ships back to Kentucky, where he made his racing debut. The colt ran well at Del Mar in his two starts, winning a maiden special weight right off the bat before finishing a fast-closing fourth in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. He is making his third start around two turns here.
#6 Blockbuster – The Kentucky Downs meet always produces solid juvenile turf horses, and he could be the perfect example. Making his career debut there, Blockbuster broke poorly in a maiden special weight before coming with a furious rally to win the race by a 1/2-length. This horse has impeccable breeding and has every right to improve here, his second lifetime start.
#7 Mr Wrench It – It is not often that you see a juvenile with six starts at this point in the year, that is exactly how many this colt has made. This will be his first try on turf. Two races back, he shipped to Prairie Meadows to win the $63,000 Prairie Meadows Juvenile while earning a solid speed figure. However, after a failed attempt against tougher last time out in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, it makes sense to try something new in this spot.
#8 Salvator Mundi – This is another Kentucky Downs maiden special winner trying tougher company. In his third career start, he shipped for that race and won by a 1/2-length with a late charge down the lane. That effort showed a large form reversal, so perhaps the light bulb has come on.
#9 Shazier – He ships in from Gulfstream Park after winning a maiden special weight in his last start, his first attempt both on turf and going two turns. After stalking the early pace, he took control at the top of the lane and put away his competition for a 1 1/2-length victory.
#10 Current – Trainer Todd Pletcher is usually great with 2-year-olds, but 2018 has been a real struggle. This horse could be a bright spot, though, as he comes into this race off of a nice 3-length victory last time out in a maiden special weight at Belmont Park. He was also impressive on debut at Saratoga, finishing a close third to Fog of War, who came back to win the Grade 1 Summer Stakes.
#11 Tracksmith – If you like Henley’s Joy here, then you also have to like this horse. Last time out, they raced against each other in the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile, with Henley’s Joy narrowly defeating Tracksmith by a head. Kentucky Downs is a very different track compared to all other places in the United States, which tells us that things could change on this more traditional track. The rematch could be interesting.
#12 More Than A. P. – After his maiden-breaking score last time out, it looks as though he has earned a shot against stakes company. In his last start, he fell way behind early, only to rally late and swoop by the competition for a 1 1/4-length victory. His eye-catching closing move is something that he has shown in each of his three career starts.
#13 Mick’s Star – This could be the most interesting horse in the race. He has absolutely dominated the competition in his first two starts while never being asked for his best. However, both of those races were on dirt, so how will he handle the turf? His sire, Point of Entry, was a fantastic turf horse, and that should help him tremendously.
#14 Pradar – His first turf start was a disaster, finishing 10th in the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes, but he showed improvement in his next try, an optional claimer at Churchill Downs, where he finished second at odds of 7-1. This will be the seventh start of his career.
#15 Life Mission – If he draws into the race, then he could have a decent shot, as his lone American start was a solid second-place finish in the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. Even though he got left behind at the start, he closed with a really nice rally.
The Dixiana Bourbon Stakes shares the card with two other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Races” at Keeneland this Sunday, a day when Belmont Park will play host to three additional “Win and You’re In” challenge races. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races will come to a close on Wednesday, October 10 at Keeneland Race Course with the running of the Grade 2 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes. That race will serve as a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to racingdudes.com
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