The Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks is making an important stop at Churchill Downs for Saturday’s running of the $400,000 Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes.
Held over the same track as the Kentucky Oaks, the Golden Rod is a 1 1/16-mile contest open to two-year-old fillies. The race dates all the way back to 1910, and the lengthy roster of winners includes Kentucky Oaks heroines and Hall of Fame inductees Silverbulletday and Rachel Alexandra.
Only time will tell if the 2022 Golden Rod winner achieves similar long-term success, but there are certainly plenty of promising names among the 10 entries. Chief among them is #4 Hoosier Philly, an exciting filly unbeaten in two starts for trainer Tom Amoss.
Hoosier Philly wasn’t overly flashy in her Sept. 25 debut sprinting at Churchill Downs, but she got the job done. After settling 2 1/2 lengths off the lead in fifth position, Hoosier Philly gradually advanced and edged away to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths.
In her next race, Hoosier Philly elevated her game to a new level when stretching out over 1 1/16 miles for the Oct. 30 Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs. Racing over a sloppy track, Hoosier Philly relaxed in third position for the opening three-quarters of a mile before blasting past the leaders to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Hoosier Philly was full of run down the Rags to Riches homestretch, with the official Equibase result chart stating that she “assumed command under her own power in upper stretch, then splashed away while playfully changing her leads through the final furlong.” As a daughter of three-time leading sire Into Mischief out of a mare by three-time leading sire Tapit, Hoosier Philly is bred for success and looms as a deserving favorite to win the Golden Rod.
If you’re willing to view Hoosier Philly as a standout in the Golden Rod, then betting the race becomes a lot simpler. If we can identify the right horses to use underneath Hoosier Philly in exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta, we’ll be set for enticing payoffs.
An obvious candidate for inclusion is #1 Pretty Mischievous, slated to be ridden by Churchill’s leading jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. A daughter of Into Mischief out of a Tapit mare (replicating the cross that produced Hoosier Philly), Pretty Mischievous is 2-for-2 sprinting at Churchill Downs, winning a maiden special weight by 2 1/4 lengths and an allowance optional claimer by 1 3/4 lengths. Pretty Mischievous is quick enough to win sprints, but she’s perfectly content to settle a few lengths off the early lead, so a relaxed trip should be in the offing while stretching out over 1 1/16 miles. With a clean trip from her inside post position, Pretty Mischievous can land a top-three finish in the Golden Rod.
#10 Defining Purpose is another exciting contender. Although she finished fifth in her debut racing 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, Defining Purpose took a big step forward when tackling the same distance at Churchill Downs for her second start, leading all the way to trounce a maiden special weight race by six lengths. Trainer Kenny McPeek tends to be dangerous with young stakes horses on the Kentucky circuit, and it’s possible we haven’t seen the best Defining Purpose has to offer yet.
Other fillies worth respecting are #3 American Rockette, dropping in class after facing tough competition in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes and Grade 1 Frizette Stakes; #6 Knockyoursocksoff, runner-up in the Grade 2 J P Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on grass; and #7 T Max, an impressive winner of her first two starts before finishing second behind Hoosier Philly in the Rags to Riches.
Depending on how much budget you’ve allocated for betting the Golden Rod, we’ve outlined a pair of wagering strategies costing $10 and $30:
Wagering Strategy A: Exactas ($10)
$5 exacta: 4 with 1,10 ($10)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10th race, $5 exacta 4 with 1,10
Wagering Strategy B: Trifecta ($30)
$9 exacta: 4 with 1,10 ($18)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10th race, $9 exacta 4 with 1,10
$1.50 trifecta: 4 with 1,10 with 1,3,6,7,10 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 10th race, $1.50 trifecta 4 with 1,10 with 1,3,6,7,10
Good luck and enjoy the race!