The highlight race this weekend in Kentucky is the Corkscrew Stakes (G1). The mile and one eighth race, held over the main dirt track, is one of the Derby lock prep races, securing its winner and automatic starting position in this years’ Bluegrass Derby (G1) on the first Saturday in May. A full field of fourteen horses will be going into the race this weekend, looking to secure a spot in the Derby or to prep for being there regardless of a win or not. The purse for the race this weekend, which is open to only three-year-olds is $750,000. The weather on Saturday looks good for the race’s 3:00 pm EST post time and the track should be listed as fast. Let’s take a look at the contenders for this year’s race.
1. Uncle Sirius – (Uncle Mo x Distorted Humor x Sadler’s Wells) - lenny17 – 8/1 – K. Banner
The first colt into the starting gate on Saturday, this local Kentucky-bred colt is graded placed but has yet to win a graded race. With nine lifetime starts, including three wins, the colt has finished off the board just twice in his career. The most recent start for the colt came across the country in California during the Filipe Alou Stakes (G2) at a mile and one sixteenth. Breaking out of the gate and settling far off the pace in tenth early on, the colt starting moving up on the rest of the field midway through the race to eventually cross the wire in third, back off the pace of the winner by three and three-quarter lengths. The bay colt set a speed figure of one hundred three for the race, down a bit from his career best which came in his prior start. This start in Florida was in a listed stakes race, the Magical Merlin Dirt Challenge, over the same distance. The colt also finished third in this race, off the pace by the same margin. The most recent win for the colt came here in Kentucky during a mile and one sixteenth allowance race. Depending on the pace on Saturday, the colt will likely settle back towards the middle of the pack or will be even farther off the pace towards the rear early on.
2. Nightmare Street (JPN) – (Street Sense x Bernardini x Riverman) - caveman2 – W. Kewmwa – 9/1
The first of two Japanese bred horses to be entered in the Corkscrew Stakes (G1) this weekend, the bay colt is also graded placed but has not won a graded race. The colt has made eight starts so far in his career, winning twice and finishing off the board just twice. The most recent start for the colt came in New Mexico during the mile and one eighth The Splendid Fool (G2). Settling back in seventh early on out of the gate, the colt was asked to move midway thorough the race. He wouldn’t progress that much though as he coasted home to a fifth place finish, off the pace by six and three-quarter lengths. The colt set a speed figure of ninety-eight during the race. The colt almost won the Jersey City Classic (G2) in the start prior as he briefly gained the lead going into the stretch but was overtaken to finish second. The colt saw his last victory in June as a two-year-old during a six furlong allowance race. Placed mid-pack out of the gate, the colt started challenging other horses right out of the box and went on to win by half a length. The colt is a versatile runner, but would likely prefer to be just off the pace of a couple of other horses out of the gate on Saturday.
3. Ray Donovan – (Medaglia d’Oro x Vindication x Halo) - fatattack – A. Jolly – 7/1
The first graded winner to go into the gate on Saturday, the striking light gray three-year-old has won half of his eight career starts and finished off the board twice in his career. The most recent for the Kentucky-bred colt was in New Mexico during The Splendid Fool (G2) at a mile and one eighth. Settling a good bit off the pace in ninth early on, the colt starting moving ahead midway through the race and reached the lead in the stretch. He went on to win the race by an impressive four lengths, setting a speed figure of one hundred six. His only other graded start, the Pleasure Stakes (G3) as a two-year-old resulted in a fourth place finish. The colt will likely be held off the pace on Saturday, either towards the middle of the pack or even farther back early on.
4. Tio Luis (IRE) – (Galileo x Rahy x Storm Bird) - zyro – R. Zamora – 9/1
Coming off posting a lifetime best speed figure, this Irish-bred bay colt is out of the graded placed broodmare Costa Brava. Himself graded placed, this colt is one of the more seasoned horses in the field with a total of fourteen career starts to date. The colt has impressively won seven times so far in his career. The most recent start for the colt came overseas in Victoria, Australia during The Winter Wonderland (G3) at a mile and one eighth. Settling back in fifth position early on, the colt relaxed and dropped farther off the pace as the race drew on, but was urged back into the pack in the stretch, ultimately going on to finish second, off the pace by two and a quarter lengths and setting that lifetime best speed figure of one hundred five. His prior race, the mile and one sixteenth listed Danzig With Sal Dirt Route, was the most recent win for the colt, which he achieved after waiting far off the pace early on out of the gate. This weekend the colt will probably be placed off the pace early on, towards the rear of the field away from the gate.
5. Wheldon’s Memory – (Smart Strike x Hard Spun x A.P. Indy) - atw6 – N. Lawton – 8/1
Out of the Grade I winning broodmare Wheldon, this Kentucky-bred colt is also already a graded winner. With nine lifetime starts, the colt has brought home just over $200,000 in career earnings. The most recent start for the colt came in Florida during The Buccaneer Derby (G3) at a mile and one sixteenth. The colt was forwardly placed in that race, being held just off the pace of a few other front runners. He maintained this position for much of the race and crossed the wire in third, four and three-quarter lengths off the pace and setting a speed figure of one hundred two, tying, for the third consecutive time, his lifetime best speed figure. His prior start, also in Florida, was in The Good Cow (G3) over a mile. The colt won this race by a quarter of a length, running the race early on in much the same fashion as his laster start in The Buccaneer Derby (G3). The colt could be a pacesetter on Saturday, and if not he will likely be up close to the pace off of a few other horses early on out of the gate.
6. United Slew – (Union Rags x Seattle Slew x Blushing Groom) - moneyballstable – J. Ledwith – 10/1
Winning two starts out of nine lifetime races, the Kentucky-bred colt is graded placed and is going into the second Derby lock race of his career this weekend. The colt’s most recent start came in Florida over a mile and one eighth during the Florida Derby, another Derby lock prep race. The colt was out of the gate late in the race and never recovered from his off the pace position early on, crossing the wire in eleventh, off the pace by eight lengths. The colt sent a speed figure of one hundred. The graded placement for the colt took place overseas in Turkey during the Long Ranch Island Juvenile (G2) at a mile and one sixteenths. He finished second in this race, off the pace by just one and three-quarter lengths. The most recent win was the colts final start as a two-year-old, coming in December across the country in California during an allowance race. The colt has been fairly versatile, though will likely be placed towards the middle of the pack or farther back early on at the start of the Corkscrew Stakes (G1) on Saturday.
7. Thunder Included – (Include x Thunder Gulch x Nureyev) - tmica – N. Gardner – 10/1
Another horse coming into his second Derby lock prep race this weekend, the three-year-old bay colt has made nine lifetime starts, winning three times in his career. The most recent start for the Kentucky-bred colt came across the country in California during the California Derby, a Derby lock prep race, over a mile and one eighth. Breaking towards the rear of the field out of the gate that weekend, the colt didn’t make a move until pretty late in the stretch and while he made up some ground it wasn’t enough as he came home to finish eighth in the race, off the pace of the winner by six and a half lengths and setting a speed figure of one hundred two. January saw the colts most recent win in an allowance race over a mile and one sixteenth here in Kentucky. In this weekends race the colt will likely be sitting towards the middle of the pack or farther off, trailing most of the field early on.
8. Upgraydd – (Harbor The Gold x Raven’s Pass x Vindication) - hotraces – H. Artack – 14/1
A Grade III winner after a total of ten career starts, the bay colt has won four times in his career and is out of the broodmare Her Vindication. The most recent start for the colt came in Oklahoma during a mile long allowance race. Going straight to the lead out of the gate in that race, he would fade later on in the race to finish two lengths back in second, posting a speed figure of ninety-seven. The most recent graded start for the colt was in his prior start across the country in California during the Movieland Futurity (G1) as a two-year-old. The colt finished fifth in this race. His most recent win, the start prior to tat, was here in Kentucky over a mile during The Cornstalk (G3). He was held back in fifth early on in this race, gained the lead coming into the stretch and won by one and a half lengths. The colt will likely wait a bit off the pace on Saturday, likely in fourth or fifth behind the pacesetter.
9. Jamison Maker (JPN) - (Empire Maker x Big Brown x Street Cry) - james34 – G. Lambert – 11/1
The second of our Japanese-bred horses to make it to the Corkscrew Stakes (G1) this year, the bay colt has made eight career starts and won twice. The three-year-old is out of the listed stakes placed broodmare Package Car. The most recent start for the colt came here in Kentucky last month during The Land’s End (G2) at a mile and one eighth. The colt settled back early just off the pace in fifth and started to challenge other horses just before coming into the stretch. He’d come up a little short at the wire, crossing it in second off the pace by two and a half lengths. The colt set a speed figure of one hundred eight, a lifetime best, for the race. The most recent win for the colt was his final start as a two-year-old during a mile and one sixteenth allowance race in West Virginia. The colt will likely be placed off the pace of the front runners of the race, but not quite far back enough to be running in the middle of the pack. Look for him around the fourth or fifth position out of the gate.
10. Calloway – (Mineshaft x El Prado x Strawberry Road) - damascus – N. Labreche – 11/1
Lightly raced with just five career starts, this light gray colt has won four of these races. His only non-win of his career was an off the board finish. He is out of the allowance winning broodmare Alix Baby. The most recent start for the local Kentucky-bred colt was in Florida during the mile and one sixteenth Buccaneer Derby (G3). Waiting far off the pace at the rear of the field at the start of the race, the colt began picking off other horses fairly early on in the race. He went on to cross the wire first, leading by two and a half lengths and setting a speed figure of one hundred eight, a lifetime best for the colt. Prior to this the colt also won two allowance races and a maiden race. The colt’s only off the board finish was in his maiden debut, which came over seven furlongs on the turf. The colt has usually run towards the middle of the pack, but his most recent race has shown that he can come from off the pace as well and still do very well in his races, so we could possibly see him at the tail end of the field out of the gate this weekend as well.
11. RG Three – (Lentenor x Alysheba x Affirmed) - dehstable – E. Walsh – 5/1
The early favorite for the Corkscrew Stakes (G1) his year is this three-year-old chestnut colt, local bred here in Kentucky. The colt is out of the Grade II winning broodmare Mars Stallion. He himself is already a Grade II winner and has the most starts of any horse in the field this weekend with a total of fifteen lifetime starts. Of these starts the colt has impressively won ten times. The most recent start for the colt came in Louisiana during the mile and one sixteenth All Saints Derby (G1), a Derby lock prep race. Breaking out of the gate and settling into fifth early on, the colt maintained his position for much of the race and didn’t have any fire when asked, ultimately crossing the wire in sixth, eight lengths off the pace. He posted a speed figure of one hundred one. The most recent win for the colt came in February, still in Louisiana, this time during the mile and one sixteenth Risen Star Stakes (G3). Settling back again towards the middle of the pack, the colt started moving up towards the latter half of the race and eventually went on to win by half a length, setting a speed figure of one hundred five. Recently the colt has been running more towards the middle of the pack, but earlier in his career he was more forwardly placed than he has been of late, so it may be possible to see him in his normal mid-pack position or out closer to the front.
12. Forty Cats Ted (PHI) – (Cat Brulay x Pleasantly Perfect x Forty Niner) - yearoft – J. Drozd – 22/1
Bred in the Philippines, this bay colt has made nine lifetime starts, winning twice and becoming graded placed, though like much of the field he is still looking for his first graded win. He is out of the allowance winning broodmare Perfect Forty. The most recent start for the colt came across the country in California over a mile and one sixteenth during the Felipe Alou Stakes (G2). Settling early in seventh, the colt only lost ground throughout the race, coming home struggling near the rear of the field, back off the pace by thirteen and a quarter lengths. The colt set a speed figure of ninety-one for the race. Prior to this start the colt also faced a similar finish in The Scam (G3) over a mile and one eighth, also in California. The colt’s most recent victory came last August as a two-year-old during a seven furlong allowance race in Illinois, which was won by one and three-quarter lengths. The colt will likely be placed somewhere from the middle pack range to the rear of the field early on on Saturday.
13. Neurotoxin – (Street Cry x Unbridled x Halo) - shadowclaw – T. Small – 12/1
Lightly raced with just six lifetime starts, the Kentucky-bred bay colt has won four times in his career and is the only horse in the field this weekend to never finish off the board in any of his starts. A listed stakes winner, the colt will be making his graded stakes debut this weekend. The most recent start for the colt came last month in Virginia over a mile and one eighth during the listed stakes race, the Warning Kingdom Dirt Route. Settling off the pace early just behind the front runner in second, the colt briefly fell back to third, but quickly gained it back and went on to win the race by two and a quarter lengths, setting a speed figure of ninety-four in what was just his second listed start of his career. Prior to this race he also won a mile and one eighth allowance race in California. The colt will likely be forwardly placed this weekend, likely in third or fourth ideally, out of the starting gate.
14. Tango Lights – (Medaglia D’oro x A.P. Indy x Mr. Prospector) - ninerdust – V. Reed – 22/1
The final horse in the field this weekend, the three-year-old colt is the only horse in the field this weekend to have already won a Grade I race. The light gray colt has made twelve career starts and won four times over that span of time. He is out of the allowance winning broodmare Crazy Eight. The most recent start for the colt came in Florida during the Florida Derby (G1), a Derby lock prep, over nine furlongs. Setting out towards the front of the pack early and staying just off the early pacesetter, the colt would fade throughout the race and ultimately cross the wire last, in fourteenth, back off the pace by twenty-one and a half lengths. The colt set a lackluster speed figure of eighty-five for the race. He faced a similar experience in last years’ Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile (G1). However, prior to that start as a two-year-old, the colt won the mile long Sparkling Wine Stakes (G1) in New York after settling off the pace early on in eighth and waiting until just before the stretch to move up. Earlier in the year he also won The Upper New York Special (G2). Lately the colt has been rating a little farther back than he was as an early two-year-old, so we may see him try to get the sixth position or so off the pacesetter early on.