Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image, the stylish two-length winner of the Pocahontas (Grade III) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1, heads a field of seven 2-year-old fillies entered for Saturday’s 66th running of the $150,000 Golden Rod Stakes (GII) at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
The Golden Rod, which serves as the co-feature on the closing-day “Stars of Tomorrow II” card exclusively for 2-year-olds, will go as the ninth race on the 12-race card with an approximate post time of 3:28 p.m. (all times ET). First post time Saturday is 11:30 a.m.
Trained by Dale Romans, Sassy Image broke her maiden in her second start this summer at Churchill Downs. She finished second in the Adirondack (GII) and fourth in the Spinaway (GI) at Saratoga before an eighth-place finish over the Polytrack at Keeneland in the Grade I Darley Alcibiades. She returned to form with her impressive victory in the one-mile Pocahontas in her return to traditional dirt.
Robby Albarado has the call Saturday in the Golden Rod aboard Sassy Image, who is the 2-1 favorite in oddsmaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line odds for the race. The rivals for Sassy Image include three of the fillies that finished right behind in the Pocahontas in Decelerator, All Due Respect and Vivid Colors.
But it is a newcomer – Stone Farm, John Adger, Oak Crest Farm and Michael Stidham’s Upperline – who is the 5-2 second choice in the Golden Rod morning line. The Stidham-trained daughter of Maria’s Mon ran second to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) winner She Be Wild in the $50,000 Top Flight at Arlington Park and edged Golden Rod rival Vivid Colors by a head in her next start in a Keeneland allowance race.
All of Upperline’s previous three starts have come on synthetic Polytrack surfaces. She will be ridden from post three by jockey E.T. Baird.
The field for the Golden Rod, from the rail out, is as follows: Sassy Image (R. Albarado, 119 pounds), All Due Respect (B. Hernandez Jr., 119), Upperline (E. Baird, 119), Vivid Colors (C. Borel, 119), Decelerator (T. Thompson, 119), Canadian Storm (J. Castanon, 119), Quiet Temper (F. Torres, 119).
Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 winner of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) and a contender for “Horse of the Year” honors, won the 2008 Golden Rod for owner-breeder Dolphus Morrison, trainer Hal Wiggins and jockey Calvin Borel.
The Caressing, a $60,000-added overnight stake at a mile on the grass, will be run immediately after the Golden Rod with a field of 12 juvenile fillies. Approximate post time is 3:58 p.m.
Heading the field is Koolman Racing Stable’s Orchestrator, the 5-2 morning line favorite, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Lisa Kitten, the 7-2 second choice.
The former is a daughter of Bernstein who seeks her third consecutive win for trainer Ken McPeek following a victory over soft turf in a one-mile Keeneland allowance race on Oct. 29. Robby Albarado will ride Orchestrator, who carries 118 pounds and will break from the inside post.
Lisa’s Kitten, a homebred daughter of Kitten’s Joy, won the La Senorita at Retama Park on Oct. 24 and most recently finished 10th to Tapitsfly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. Trained by Mike Maker, Lisa’s Kitten will be ridden by Miguel Mena and break from post position 10.
The field for the Caressing, from the hedge out, is as follows: Orchestrator (R. Albarado, 116 pounds, 5-2), Rich Pearl (F. Torres, 122, 20-1), Tidal Pool (T. Thompson, 116, 10-1), Greeley’s Rocket (J. Theriot, 116, 8-1), Sheer Beauty (C. Borel, 116, 10-1), Zippy Larry (J. McKee, 116, 30-1), Martita Sangrita (J. Castanon, 116, 12-1), Jody Slew (J. Court, 116, 15-1), Check the Label (G. Saez, 116, 5-1), Lisa’s Kitten (M. Mena, 122, 7-2), Cactus Cadillac (L. Goncalves, 116, 15-1) and Sparky’s Dream (F. Arguello Jr., 116, 15-1).