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Kentucky Jockey Club (Churchill Downs): Instant Coffee Chief Among His Challengers in a Wide Open Race

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated November 24, 2022
7 min read

Kentucky Jockey Club Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs!










E Morales

T Amoss





M Michel

D W Lukas





B J Hernandez Jr

K McPeek





C Lanerie

S Asmussen





T Gaffalione

S Asmussen





F Geroux

J Terranova II





R Bejarano

K McPeek





L Saez

B Cox





J Talamo

D Romans

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Kentucky Jockey Club Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($66 in total)

$5 Exacta Box - Cyclone Mischief, Instant Coffee, and Red Route One = $30

$2 Trifecta Part Wheel - Cyclone Mischief over Instant Coffee, Curly Jack and Red Route One over Instant Coffee, Curly Jack, Gigante and Red Route One  = $18

$2 Trifecta Part Wheel - Instant Coffee, Curly Jack and Red Route One over Cyclone Mischief over Instant Coffee, Curly Jack, Gigante and Red Route One  = $18

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Cyclone Mischief (4/1).    



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Kentucky Jockey Club Predictions

Already a graded stakes winner at Churchill Downs, Curly Jack looks for more when he headlines a field of nine 2-year-old colts entered in Saturday’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. 

The son of Good Magic earned that victory two starts ago with a one-length score in the Grade 3 Iroquois at the same track and trip as Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile test. Also a debut winner at Churchill Downs, he is two-for-two at the Louisville oval.

Most recently,  the Tom Amoss trainee faced the leaders of the division in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and came home a well-beaten fifth. 

Chief among his challengers in a wide open race is Instant Coffee. A good looking debut winner at Saratoga in September for trainer Brad Cox, the Bolt d’Oro colt was well back early but rallied for fourth in a strong edition of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last out.

Another who should receive plenty of betting support is Cyclone Mischief. A son of Into Mischief, he set a pressured pace all the way around in his debut at Churchill Downs in September, before succumbing late.

 Off that effort, the Dale Romans-trained runner went to Keeneland and romped in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race.

The $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club is a Kentucky Derby points qualifying race and will award the first five finishers points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale.

Kentucky Jockey Club Predictions and Race Analysis

Instant Coffee 

Trained by Brad Cox, this son of Bolt d’Oro will get his second chance at two-turns and graded stakes competition after finishing fourth last month in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. 

That rallying effort in a field of 14 was flattered when the winner Forte came back to impressively win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Instant Coffee had previously shown his talent with a strong rallying win while going seven furlongs in his career debut at Saratoga. 

With the good Grade 1 experience under his belt while going the distance, he should be ready to turn in a solid performance in a slightly easier field.

Curly Jack

This son of Good Magic brings the most stakes experience into the Kentucky Jockey Club with four stakes races under his belt since winning his career debut back in June. That debut victory came at Churchill Downs as did his only stakes win. 

He’s 0-for-3 in stakes races at other tracks, but just missed in the Ellis Park Juvenile and didn’t run poorly when fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Given his experience and fondness for the Churchill Downs oval, he is a major threat on Saturday. 

With a tactical running style, he should also get first run on the early leaders which could prove decisive. He is a must use in the exotics.

Cyclone Mischief

This son of Into Mischief ran a very good race in his debut at Churchill Downs, battling on the lead all the way before coming up short by less than a length. 

Expected to move forward for next out, he looked good in dominating a maiden field at Keeneland. With good early speed and experience at the distance, he should be involved in this race from the outset for trainer Dale Romans. 

He gives away stakes experience to his top rivals, but looks to have the talent to fit in this Grade 2 affair. In a race without too much early speed, he is the top pick.



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Freedom Trail

The second stakes winner in this field, this son of Collected will look to transfer his good form on the turf to the main track on Saturday. 

Undefeated in two starts on Aqueduct’s grass course, in both wins he used a late rush to get the top spot. The second of which came four weeks ago in the Awad Stakes. 

Both his pedigree and his workouts suggest that he will handle the switch to dirt, but this is a tough spot to compete on it for the first time. He is a dangerous wild card here, but I do like a few others better.

Red Route One

This son of Gun Runner comes into the Kentucky Jockey Club off a disappointing effort when fifth in the local Street Sense Stakes. That race came on a sloppy track, though, and was likely not to the late runner’s taste. 

Trained by Steve Asmussen, he ran quite a solid race the effort before when he came from way back to edge Instant Coffee for third in the Breeders’ Futurity. A repeat of that one makes him a threat here. 

Proven at the distance, I would like to see a little more early pace in here to set the table for his rally, but he still looks like an interesting longshot. I will use him in the exotics.

Hayes Strike

Second last out in a sloppy edition of the Street Sense Stakes, this son of Connect needs to prove he can get it done on a fast track. 

It’s actually a pretty mixed bag in his first five races, having finished way back twice, including an allowance race at Keeneland two starts back. Before that his effort when fourth in the Iroquois was not terrible. 

Trained by Kenny McPeek, he looks like a colt who still is learning. He could pop up again at a price, but I think this field will probably prove a little too tough for him.


Another one trained by Kenny McPeek, this son of Gun Runner comes in off a maiden win over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs last month. 

While showing signs of improvement, I do worry that the track condition might be a big part of the reason why he earned his first victory in four tries. 

His sixth-place finish four weeks earlier on a fast track at Churchill and against maiden company, does not inspire confidence that he is ready to move smoothly into graded stakes competition. I like others better.


The third stakes winner in the field, this Steve Asmussen-trained son of Not This Time earned his stakes victory on the turf at Colonial Downs. Most recently, he faded out of the picture down the stretch in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes on the Keeneland turf. 

Three of his four career races have come on the grass, but he did win his only start on the dirt nicely, in a maiden event at Colonial Downs. 

Bred to like the dirt and with good tactical speed, he is an interesting longshot as he returns to the main track for the first time in three starts.

Western Ghent

With only a maiden claiming victory to his credit in seven career starts, this D. Wayne Lukas trainee looks like a real longshot on Saturday. 

Since his narrow victory four starts back, he has been distance twice against stakes company, although it is worth noting that both of those came on sloppy tracks. 

He does have some natural speed to be involved early, but his recent form is not good enough to strongly consider him against this tough field. 



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How to watch the Kentucky Jockey Club

  • What: Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade 2)

  • Location: Churchill Downs

  • Time: Saturday, November 26 -- 5:56 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: TVG

  • Purse: $400,000

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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
Betting Picks
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
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