Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go, the top-rated horse for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I), headlines a compact field of six accomplished older horses that entered Saturday’s $400,000 Lukas Classic (GIII) at Churchill Downs – the marquee race on closing weekend of the September Meet.
The Lukas Classic, which could serve as a final prep prior to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Del Mar, was carded as the eighth race on Saturday’s 11-race program. First post is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Lukas Classic will go at 4:22 p.m. Named after Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the 1 1/8-mile race shares the Saturday spotlight with the $300,000 Ack Ack (GIII), which goes as Race 10 at 5:26 p.m.
Trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go won last year’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) to close his 4-year-old campaign. The now 5-year-old son of Paynter started the year with a 2 ¾-length victory in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (GI) at Gulfstream Park and will enter the Lukas Classic following his dominating 4 ½-length score in the $1 million Whitney (GI) at Saratoga.
Knicks Go has competed four times at Churchill Downs but has yet to record a win beneath the historic Twin Spires. The speedy Maryland-bred’s career record is comprised of 22 starts with eight wins, three seconds and one third with purse earnings of $5,368,995. Jockey Joel Rosario, who has ridden Knicks Go in his last eight starts, will have the call Saturday from post No. 2.
Chief among Knicks Go’s competition in the Lukas Classic is multiple Grade II winner Tacitus. The Juddmonte homebred is scheduled to make his first start since his seventh-place effort in the $20 million Saudi Cup (GI) on Feb. 20. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old son of Tapit has recorded graded stakes triumphs in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), Wood Memorial (GII) and Suburban (GII). New York-based jockey Jose Lezcano will travel to Churchill Downs Saturday for the mount from post 3.
Also entered is Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup (GIII) winner Sprawl. Trained by Tommy Drury Jr., Sprawl gamely prevailed by 1 ¾ lengths in the Aug. 7 West Virginia Governor’s Cup under jockey Joe Talamo. The chestnut colt by City Zip will have Talamo in the irons for Saturday’s affair from post 6.
The complete field for the Lukas Classic from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): New Orleans Classic (GII) winner Chess Chief (James Graham, Dallas Stewart); Knicks Go (Rosario, Cox); Tacitus (Lezcano, Mott); multiple stakes winner Shared Sense (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cox); Pegasus World Cup third Independence Hall (Javier Castellano, Michael McCarthy); and Sprawl (Talamo, Drury).
Fans who are unable to make it to Churchill Downs for the races can download and watch all the action on the Churchill Downs LIVE app. The Churchill Downs LIVE app is available free of charge on Amazon, Apple TV and Roku and features full access to the HD live stream of the Churchill Downs simulcast signal and three additional angles including the Saddling Paddock.
Action from Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs is also scheduled to air from 12:30-6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 2 as part of “America’s Day at the Races.”
Wagering is available on www.TwinSpires.com, the official ADW of Churchill Downs Incorporated and its family of racetracks.
The final Twilight Thursday presented by Blue Moon of the calendar year will kick off closing week of the September Meet. Thursday’s eight-race card has a first post of 5 p.m. and features $1 Blue Moon and select domestic beer, local food trucks and live music from Roadie. Racing on Friday-Sunday will have a first post of 12:45 p.m. Tickets and more information for racing this week can be found at www.ChurchillDowns.com/tickets.