Edited Churchill Staff Release – Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky shifts from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Sunday as the home of the Kentucky Derby readies to open its 134th Fall Meet with an 11-race program – all for promising 2-year-old Thoroughbreds – at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern).
The popular 21-day stand covers a four-week stretch every Wednesday-Sunday through Nov. 26.
The Fall Meet kicks off in style Sunday with the 19th annual “Stars of Tomorrow I” program, which is entirely devoted to hopeful 2-year-olds with aspirations of trail-blazing their way to next year’s Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Sunday’s 11-race opening day card is headlined by the 11th runnings of two 1 1/16 miles, $200,000 stakes – the open-company Street Sense (GIII) and Rags to Riches for fillies. Those races serve as local steppingstones to the two Grade II, $400,000, 1 1/16-mile counterparts on the Saturday, Nov. 25 “Stars of Tomorrow II” program – the open Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod for fillies. Each race is a part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks series which award points to the Top 5 finishers (10-5-3-2-1).
A whopping 143 juveniles, including 22 also-eligible runners, were entered for Sunday’s opener, which is a compelling average of 11 horses per race for horseplayers.
Moonlight, an Audible colt trained by Todd Pletcher who broke his maiden by eight lengths, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Street Sense. Pocahontas (GIII) winner and Alcibiades (GI) runner-up V V’s Dream, who also was pre-entered in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, is the 6-5 choice in the Pocahontas.
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 Horse of the Year champions Gun Runner (2017) and Rachel Alexandra (2009); Kentucky Derby winners Super Saver (2010) and Mandaloun (2021); Kentucky Oaks winners Rachel Alexandra (2009), Believe You Can (2012), Monomoy Girl (2018), Secret Oath (2022) and Pretty Mischievous (2023); Preakness winners Rachel Alexandra (2009), Shackleford (2011), War of Will (2019) and Swiss Skydiver (2020); Belmont winner Creator (2016) as well as 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2013 Stephen Foster hero Fort Larned and 2013 champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge.
Horsemen will compete for $22.89 million offered in Vice President of Racing Ben Huffman’s Fall Meet condition book of 218 races, including a 15-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $4.75 million.
Average daily purses are $1,090,000. Maiden special weight races have a $120,000 purse while allowance races range from $127,000 to $141,000. All purses, including claiming races, include prize money from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (pending Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approval).
Sunday’s card features $1,466,000 in prize money.
The lucrative stakes schedule is anchored by the 149th running of the $600,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (GI). The 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up on “Black Friday,” Nov. 24 annually lures some of the top horses in North America and is the centerpiece of nine stakes races scheduled over Thanksgiving weekend.
2023 CHURCHILL DOWNS FALL MEET STAKES SCHEDULE
|Sunday, Oct. 29||11th||III||$200,000||Street Sense||2yo||1 1/16 M||Dirt|
|Sunday, Oct. 29||11th||Listed||$200,000||Rags to Riches||2yo f||1 1/16 M||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 4||15th||Listed||$300,000||Bet On Sunshine||3&up||6 F||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 11||44th||III||$300,000||River City||3&up||1 1/8 M||Turf|
|Saturday, Nov. 11||18th||Listed||$300,000||Dream Supreme||3&up, f&m||6 F||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 18||38th||III||$300,000||Chilukki||3&up, f&m||1 M||Dirt|
|Thursday, Nov. 23||108th||III||$400,000||Falls City||3&up, f&m||1 1/8 M||Dirt|
|Thursday, Nov. 23||48th||III||$300,000||Cardinal||3&up, f&m||1 1/8 M||Turf|
|Friday, Nov. 24||149th||I||$600,000||Clark presented by Norton Healthcare||3&up||1 1/8 M||Dirt|
|Friday, Nov. 24||32nd||II||$300,000||Mrs. Revere||3yo f||1 1/16 M||Turf|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||97th||II||$400,000||Kentucky Jockey Club||2yo||1 1/16 M||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||80th||II||$400,000||Golden Rod||2yo f||1 1/16 M||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||3rd||$225,000||Ed Brown||2yo||6 ½ F||Dirt|
|Saturday, Nov. 25||3rd||$225,000||Fern Creek||2yo f||6 ½ F||Dirt|
|Sunday, Nov. 26||18th||III||$300,000||Commonwealth Turf||3yo||1 1/16 M||Turf|
Luis Saez had the hot hand during last year’s Fall Meet with 23 wins, two more than Tyler Gaffalione’s 21. Mike Maker led all trainers during the 2022 Fall Meet with 12 victories, one more than Steve Asmussen.