Whether you had time to handicap the Kentucky Downs card on Saturday or not, you’d have been better off just backing whatever Florent Geroux was riding. The talented Frenchman put on a clinic with a five-win day, highlighted by a clean sweep of the stakes.
From a Breeders’ Cup perspective, the most interesting of the trio was the $300,000 More Than Ready Mile, won in grand style by comebacker Tourist. Unraced since his troubled 13th in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) — where he was shoved out wide on the clubhouse turn — the Bill Mott trainee could be better than ever now at four. The 2-1 second choice grabbed command early for Geroux, and that was the only challenge he saw. Once safely clear, he never looked back and readily widened his advantage to 3 3/4 lengths at the wire in a final time of 1:36.17 on the firm turf.
Wesley Ward’s Undrafted, the 7-5 favorite in his first start since taking the June 20 Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot, was best of the rest. A near-miss third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at about 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, he’s less likely to enjoy this year’s renewal over 5 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland. Was this perhaps an experiment to see if the Breeders’ Cup Mile could be a viable option? If so, you’d probably have wanted to see a better finishing punch.
Tourist was on an upward curve at this time a year ago as a sophomore. The son of Tiznow compiled a three-race winning streak, capped by a front-running coup in the Sir Cat at Saratoga. His skein was snapped in the Secretariat (G1), but he lost no luster when second to Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting Adelaide. There should be still more to come from the homebred, who races for his breeder, WinStar Farm, in partnership with Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber.
Geroux opened the day’s stakes action with a pick-up mount on Godolphin’s Ruthless Quality in the $300,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies, wherein the top two both drew in from the also-eligible list. Kieren Fallon was initially named to ride, but he actually rode at Parx (finishing second in a division of the Mrs. Penny aboard Ward’s Emotional Kitten).
Sent off at 12-1 in the wake of her debut score sprinting on the Arlington Park turf, Ruthless Quality stalked front-running Moms Choice in the early going and wore her down in the stretch. The Eoin Harty trainee was a length on top while completing seven furlongs in 1:24.90.
Ruthless Quality has a beautiful pedigree, being by Elusive Quality and out of Ruth E, a daughter of A.P. Indy and champion Ajina. This is the immediate family of Quality Road, himself by Elusive Quality.
Geroux employed far different tactics on Cajun Schill in the $300,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile. Slow to move at the start and lagging at the rear, the Gulfstream shipper didn’t begin to gain traction until the stretch, as though not in love with the European-style undulations. But once finding his stride, he overhauled pacesetter John Q. Public and pulled away by 1 3/4 lengths. The aptly named Cajun Schill — by Artie Schiller and out of the Miswaki mare Miss Louisiana — stopped the clock in a time .70 faster than the fillies in 1:24.20.
Trained by Bill Kaplan, Cajun Schill was bet down from his 10-1 morning line to 9-2 here, and is now two-for-two since switching to the turf. Between his 5 1/4-length maiden rout on the Gulfstream turf, and winning despite possibly feeling unbalanced on this course, he’s got a fair amount of upside.
Florent Geroux photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography.