Saturday November 27 is Stars of Tomorrow Day at Churchill Downs, an entire afternoon of racing designed to showcase promising 2 year old thoroughbreds with the potential to become, well, the stars of tomorrow.
One of the star races is the $ 400,000, level 2 Goldenrod stakes for racing fillies 1 1/16 miles. The historic event is over 100 years old and entrants since 2008 include Kentucky Oaks winners Rachel Alexandra and Monomoy Girl. It’s no wonder the Golden Rod awards the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four.
Eight fillies have come forward to compete in the 2021 Golden Rod, but one ranks above the rest in accomplishment. This filly is # 4 Sandstone, who looks ultra-tough to beat for super trainer Kenny McPeek.
The daughter of Street Sense, winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby, Sandstone has been spectacular in her last two starts at Churchill Downs. On October 3, she used pace-keeping tactics to crush an inaugural nine-length mile race, earning a Brisnet speed rating of 90 while counting her compatriot competing in the Golden Rod. # 3 Secret oath among his beaten rivals.
Sandstone was even more impressive in the Rags to Riches Stakes on October 31st over 1 1/16 miles. After digging up the pace, the dark bay filly fended off a challenge of 3-5 favorite # 6 Yuugiri to light up and win by 10 ¾ of lengths with a Brisnet speed rating of 95.
As the sole winner of the Golden Rod realm, Sandstone has a class advantage over her rivals. She is also the only participant to have posted multiple Brisnet 90+ speed ratings. Sandstone figures to sit on a perfect trip stalking # 1 Famous through the early stages of Goldenrod, and if she brings her A-game, I expect another win.
The question is, which riders should be included in exotic bets like the exacta and the winning trifecta? Famed is definitely a candidate. Half-sister to 2020 champion Essential Quality, a 2-year-old male, Famed finished second on her debut at Churchill Downs but came back to dominate a first sprint at Keeneland. After battling for the lead through quick fractions on a sloppy track, Famed pulled away to easily win by 7 in length.
With Brisnet speed ratings of 87 and 85 under his belt, Famed isn’t as fast as Sandstone. But she thinks she is setting the pace by breaking the rail, and trainer Brad Cox wins at a high rate of 34% with horses covering a course distance (a mile or more) after competing in back-to-back sprints. Add in jockey Florent Geroux (a 24% winner by teaming up with Cox), and there’s a lot to love about Famed.
But don’t sleep on Yuugiri’s chances. Admittedly, she was no match for Sandstone in the Rags to Riches, finishing 10 lengths behind. But that’s a bit of a disappointment, as Yuugiri stepped away from 15 from the rest and was allowed to relax once it became clear that she wasn’t going to beat Sandstone. If Yuugiri had been driven to the finish line, she might have ended up a little closer.
Yuugiri had previously dominated an inaugural sprint at Churchill Downs of 7 in length, securing a Brisnet speed rating of 95. The daughter of Shackleford, winner of the 2011 Preakness Stakes, brings a reasonably solid pedigree to the table and will add blinders for her debut. in graded stakes, paving the way for another competitive performance. Keep in mind that she trained heavily for the Golden Rod, including working a quick half-mile in 46.80 seconds at Keeneland.
The secret oath mentioned above and the recent winner of the weed maiden # 5 Hal’s dream are other logical contenders for minor rewards, with # 7 Dream Lith, coming off a respectable fifth place in the Spinaway Stakes and Darley Alcibiades Stakes.
So how should we bet the Golden Rod? We’re going to start by grabbing Sandstone on top of all of our tickets. Next, we’ll focus on Famed and Yuugiri with equal strength below while adding Secret Oath, Hal’s Dream, and Dream Lith to the bottom of the deeper tickets.
Depending on your budget, here are two Golden Rod betting strategies to consider:
Betting strategy on a budget of $ 10
$ 5 exact: 4 with 1.6 ($ 10)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10e stroke, $ 5 exacta 4 with 1.6
Betting strategy on a budget of $ 30
$ 8 exacta: 4 with 1.6 ($ 16)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10e stroke, $ 8 exacta 4 with 1.6
Trifecta at $ 4: 4 with 1.6 with 1.6 ($ 8)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10e race, $ 4 tiercé 4 with 1.6 with 1.6
Trifecta at $ 1: 4 with 1.6 with 3.5.7 ($ 6)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10e race, $ 1 trifecta 4 with 1.6 with 3.5.7
Good luck and good racing!