Underdogs in Horse Racing: Eskenforit listed among greats like Secretariat, Victory Gallop

Mar 21, 2023 Sara Dacus TwinSpires.com


Eskenforit (Photo by Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

On the list of track records ordered by distance, he sat next to Secretariat, the 1 1/4 mile champion.

Eskenforit hasn’t triumphed in a stakes race and has only won six of his 44 career starts, his most recent a $10,000 claiming race at Oaklawn Park. But for a year, he held a place in the Churchill Downs record books for the fastest time at 1 3/16 miles. On the list of track records ordered by distance, he sat next to Secretariat, the 1 1/4 mile champion.

Eskenforit is the son of Eskendereya, who dominated the 2010 Wood Memorial S. (G1) by 9 3/4 lengths. The chestnut colt was offered at a Fasig-Tipton two-year-old sale in May 2018.

Brilliant Racing, a partnership that allows people to get involved in ownership for a fraction of the cost of doing it on their own, had just formed in the fall of 2017. Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds analyst Joe Kristufek is a founding member.

Brilliant was looking to build their roster, and the managing partners liked several horses in their price range, but they were unanimous in purchasing Eskenforit, their top pick. They affectionately called him “Kenny.” He was sent to the barn of trainer Steve Margolis and was later gelded.

Kenny was not an immediate success, but he broke his maiden in his eighth attempt in grand fashion, winning by 8 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs in May 2019. In his next start, he was a nose away from the winner’s circle on the same track at the same distance.

(Photo by Coady Photography/Horseshoe Indianapolis)

Riding on these two achievements, Brilliant Racing entered him in the 2019 Indiana Derby (G3), where he went off at 33-1 odds from post 7 with Julien Leparoux aboard. At the start, Eskenforit stumbled to his nose and lost Leparoux, which disqualified him from the race. But he continued to run with the other horses, and he crossed the finish line ahead of winner Mr. Money. This is the only graded stakes Kenny has ever entered.

“After the easy maiden win, the brutal head bob loss and now crossing the finish line first without the rider, Kenny thinks he's won three in a row,” Kristufek said, “and we're not going to tell him otherwise.”

He entered the Ellis Park Derby and faced Knicks Go, the eventual 2021 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year. They both lost to Gray Magician, with Knicks Go finishing second and Eskenforit fifth.

Then, he returned to the Twin Spires for an allowance race at the infrequently run distance of 1 3/16 miles. Gabriel Saez, who was in the irons for Eskenforit’s first win, was again on the horse. Eskenforit stalked the pace early, made a bid three wide nearing the lane, took command in the stretch, and drew away to win by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:56.49, setting the track record at the distance. Eskenforit held this record for a little over a year until Idol broke it on Nov. 8, 2020.

Kenny went winless in his next sixteen starts, a streak that includes a third place effort in the Champions Day Marathon Overnight S. at Churchill. He finally found the winner’s circle again at Colonial Downs. Two starts later, he was claimed away from Brilliant Racing in a winning effort at Churchill.

With @ReyGutiJockey at the controls for @_MichelleLovell, Eskenforit answers the bell for Wednesday third race @ColonialRosies. He hopes to stalk his prey and land the knockout blow in the final round. Run like the wind, Kenny! #bebrilliant pic.twitter.com/MwmLt76nyc

— Brilliant Racing (@BrilliantRacin1) August 25, 2021

“Kenny is very special to us, and we hope to welcome him back to the Brilliant Racing family at the conclusion of his racing career,” the partnership posted on their website.

In addition to his wins at Churchill and Colonial, Eskenforit has notched victories at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Oaklawn Park. He has also raced at Ellis Park, Fair Grounds, Hawthorne Racecourse, Keeneland, and Turfway Park.

Eskenforit is still racing as a seven-year-old. He made his most recent start on March 2 at Oaklawn for owner Cloud Nine Racing and trainer Tim Martin. He finished sixth under jockey Kylee Jordan.

  • Ticket Info

    Sign up for race updates and more


Thank You To Our Sponsors


Missed something? Catch up on past Churchill Downs news