Godolphin LLC’s 2-year-old homebred colt Enticed matched strides with Frank L. Jones Jr.’s Tiz Mischief in deep stretch and prevailed in a head bob at the finish to narrowly win Saturday’s thrilling 91st running of the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) at Churchill Downs by a scant head.
Enticed clocked 1 1/16 miles over a “fast” track in 1:44.42. Junior Alvarado rode the winner for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who are both based in New York.
Enticed collected $114,080 and 10 points as part of the 35-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve” series, which offered points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 to the Top 4 finishers as a “Prep Season” race. Overall, he’s won two of his three starts with a third in Belmont Park’s $500,000 Champagne (GI) in early October. His earnings stand at $213,880 and has 12 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
“This was a huge win! He is so well-bred and to win a Grade II with him as a 2-year-old is very important,” McLaughlin said via text. “And it makes it special to win it at Churchill Downs. Knowing that he likes the track is great, and Junior rode him very well.”
The race was blemished when jockey Frankie Pennington fell from his mount, Diamond King, as the field entered the first turn. Diamond King, who raced between Gotta Go and Givemeaminit, appeared to clip heels with those rivals and Pennington was dropped. John Tippmann, who broke last from the gate, was unable to avoid Pennington and might have made contact with the fallen rider.
Pennington was alert and conscious, according to the onsite medical team. He complained of discomfort in his groin area and had a superficial cut on his cheek. Pennington was transported by ambulance to nearby Norton Audubon Hospital for further evaluation.
The winner Enticed, who broke from post 6 as the mild 3-1 favorite, was positioned between horses in the early stages of the race just behind pacesetter Promises Fulfilled, who led the field of 14 2-year-olds through quarter-mile fractions of :23.60, :47.70 and 1:12.53. Tiz Mischief was unhurried early and raced several lengths behind.
Despite the efforts of jockey Alex Canchari, Promises Fulfilled began to lug out as the field entered the far turn. Reride and Arrival, who tracked close behind, drew even with the leader around the bend as Enticed swung to the far outside at the top of the stretch and Tiz Mischief found an opening along the inside for his rally.
The threats by Reride and Arrival were brief as Promises Fulfilled stayed on along the inside. Tiz Mischief, piloted by Robby Albarado, shifted to the outside of stablemate Promises Fulfilled at the three-sixteenths pole while Enticed continued to grind his way to the front. The two shook clear of Promises Fulfilled with a sixteenth of a mile to run and battled gamely through the final yards with Enticed getting the benefit of the head bob at the wire.
“My horse had quite the learning experience,” Alvarado said. “He’s still a baby so there is a lot of room to grow still. He’s a big colt. He got a little lost once he got in front but he dug in and finished well. I thought I had it at the wire but it was very close.”
Promises Fulfilled finished 2 ½ lengths back in third. High North, Lone Sailor, Reride, Quip, Givemeaminit, John Tippmann, Bravazo, Arrival, Peppered and Gotta Go completed the order of finish.
Enticed paid $8.80, $4.80 and $3.80. Tiz Mischief, the 5-1 second betting choice, paid $5.40 and $3.80. Promises Fulfilled, who went to post at odds of 10-1, returned $7.80 to show.
The second- and third-place finishers are campaigned by Churchill Downs’ all-time leader trainer Dale Romans.
“We were in front the jump before and the jump after the wire,” Romans said. “Man, that’s as close as you can get without winning it. I’m so proud of both of my horse’s efforts. To get narrowly defeated like that isn’t fun but you have to be proud of these horses for the future. Both of the jockeys rode a perfect race.”
Enticed, a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the Mineshaft mare It’s Tricky, was bred in Kentucky by his ownership group, headed by Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum.
“It was about as an eventful of a race as you can get as these babies are doing a lot of growing up and maturing mentally – and Enticed did a lot of that today,” said Jimmy Bell, President and Racing Manager for Godophin/Darley. “Maybe it was a little more experience than we asked for. He’s a big horse but he was able to settle well. We’re really optimistic about his future.”
Prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club, Enticed finished 3 ½ lengths back of Firenze Fire, who beat then-maiden Good Magic by a half-length in the one-mile Champagne (GI). Good Magic would return to win his first race in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Del Mar earlier this month.
Prior to the Champagne, Enticed won his career debut by 1 ¾ lengths in the mud at Saratoga in a six-furlong maiden special weight.
The Kentucky Jockey Club is named in honor of the holding company that operated Churchill Downs at the time of the race’s inaugural running in 1920. In recent years, the Kentucky Jockey Club produced Kentucky Derby winners in WinStar Farm’s Super Saver, who won both races for trainer Todd Pletcher in 2009 and ’10, and Mike Pegram’s Real Quiet, the runner-up in the 1997 Kentucky Jockey Club who returned to win the Derby for trainer Bob Baffert the following spring.
Each of the 12 races on Saturday at Churchill Downs was exclusively for 2-year-olds that may have aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next spring’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and Longines Kentucky Oaks. Inaugurated in 2005, Churchill Downs’ “Stars of Tomorrow” programs have helped launched the careers of numerous graded stakes winners, including more than 50 future Grade I winners led by Super Saver; 2011 Preakness and 2012 Met Mile and Clark Handicap winner Shackleford; 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra; 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2013 Stephen Foster Handicap hero Fort Larned; 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can; 2013 champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge; 2016 Belmont Stakes winner Creator; and five-time Grade I winner Gun Runner, who won this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and is likely to be crowned Horse of the Year.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a 12-race card for closing day of the 21-day Fall Meet. The first race is 1 p.m. EST.
KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB QUOTES
JUNIOR ALVARADO, jockey of ENTICED (winner): “My horse had quite the learning experience. He’s still a baby so there is a lot of room to grow still. He’s a big colt. It was a little rough coming into the first turn with a lot of horses in front of him but he handled it well. Turning for home, he shied a little bit when a horse came out but dug in. He got a little lost once he got in front but he dug in and finished well. I thought I had it at the wire but it was very close. I asked Robby on the gallop out and he told me he thought I had it.”
JIMMY BELL, president and racing manager for Godolphin’s ENTICED (winner): “It was about as an eventful of a race as you can get as these babies are doing a lot of growing up and maturing mentally – and Enticed did a lot of that today. Maybe it was a little more experience than we asked for. He’s a big horse but he was able to settle well. We’re really optimistic about his future.”
KIARAN McLAUGLIN (via text), trainer of ENTICED (winner): “This was a huge win! He is so well-bred and to win a Grade II with him as a 2-year-old is very important. And it makes it special to win it at Churchill Downs. Knowing that he likes the track is great, and Junior rode him very well.”
Note: McLaughin commented via text because he is on a cruise with 24 family members in celebration of his mother Judy’s birthday.
DALE ROMANS, trainer of TIZ MISCHIEF (runner-up) and PROMISES FULFILLED (third): “We were in front the jump before and the jump after the wire. Man, that’s as close as you can get without winning it. I’m so proud of both of my horse’s efforts. To get narrowly defeated like that isn’t fun but you have to be proud of these horses for the future. Both of the jockeys rode a perfect race.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on TIZ MISCHIEF (runner-up): “He ran huge. I had a beautiful trip. All that (involving unseated rider aboard Diamond King) happened in front of me, so I didn’t have to check or anything. I came through in the second turn on the inside and it opened up turning for home. He came home and he wanted to win. He tried to win.”
Q: What were you thinking in those final yards? “He fought back I’m not going to take anything away from the winner – that’s a nice horse that beat us. This was a pretty good field that was put together. There wasn’t really a standout horse. It was a pretty balanced field. That was a good field and I think a quality horse beat us.”
Q: But Tiz Mischief has a strong future … “I really like him. He can stay the distance and he galloped out good. He’s got too many qualities not to be good.”