California invader Majestic Eagle hopes to land his first stakes victory as he faces nine 3-year-old rivals in Saturday night’s 42nd running of the $100,000 Jefferson Cup (Listed) at Churchill Downs.
Carded as Race 7 with a post time of 9:05 p.m. (all times Eastern), the 1 1/8-mile turf contest is the first of four-consecutive stakes events on Saturday’s 11-race Downs After Dark program which also features the $100,000 Ack Ack (GIII), $200,000 Lukas Classic (Grade III) and $100,000 President of the UAE Cup (GI) for Arabian-bred horses, in Races 8-10, respectively.
Owned by David Heerensperger and trained by Neil Drysdale, Majestic Eagle (7-2-4-0—$129,200) narrowly broke his maiden against older horses in April at Santa Anita under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith. The son of Medaglia d’Oro scored a one-length victory in a first-level allowance race in July at Del Mar prior to his fourth-place effort in the Del Mar Derby (GII) on Sept. 2.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. picks up the mount on Majestic Eagle and will break from post position No. 6.
Among Majestic Eagle’s rivals is Woodford Racing’s Kent Stakes (GIII) runner-up Hot Springs (5-2-1-0—$128,200). Trained by Steve Asmussen, the bay-son of Uncle Mo finished fourth by 3 ¾ lengths in his most recent start, the Saranac (GIII) at Saratoga.
Asmussen’s regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. has the mount on Hot Springs and will break from post 5.
Also in the Jefferson Cup field is Dueling Grounds Derby third Captivating Moon. Owned by Lothenbach Stables and trained by Chris Block, the Illinois-bred son of Malibu Moon is seeking his first stakes win after finishing second or third in six prior stakes events.
Corey Lanerie has the call and will break from post 8.
The Jefferson Cup field, from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Discovered (Declan Cannon, Daniel Sanner); Armed for Battle (Robby Albarado, Jen Patterson); Tigers Rule (James Graham, Vickie Foley); Factor This (Shaun Bridgmohan, Brad Cox); Hot Springs (Santana, Asmussen); Majestic Eagle (Hernandez, Drysdale); Silent Citizen (Albin Jiminez, Efren Loza Jr.); Captivating Moon (Lanerie, Block); King Valero (Samuel Camacho Jr., Alejandro Gonzalez); and Dubby Dubbie (Jack Gilligan, Michelle Lovell).