Saturday’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” program could be an exciting one for the several hundred members of the Churchill Downs Racing Club as both of the Racing Club’s 2-year-olds, Warrior’s Club and Dial Me, are slated to race that afternoon.
On Opening Day’s “Stars of Tomorrow I” Program, Warrior’s Club took the Racing Club members on a ride of a lifetime when he won the $ 300,000 Spendthrift Stallion Stakes as a maiden. He looks to take them on an even bigger ride at the graded stakes level in Saturday’s $ 200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII).
“It would be truly fantastic,” Churchill Downs Racing Club manager Gary Palmisano said. “I think that the horse improved with blinkers last time and he’s improving every day and it was well worth giving him an opportunity to test some of the heavy hitters at his home track. There was pandemonium for winning the Spendthrift Stakes. Should he win on Saturday I can only imagine that it would be amplified that much more because of the history and tradition that surrounds the Kentucky Jockey Club. The fact that it’s a Road to the Derby points race and all of those factors would make it a huge accomplishment for this club.”
The concept of the Racing Club was designed by Churchill Downs earlier this year to give racing fans a low-cost and low-risk look into Thoroughbred ownership and has proved itself to be prosperous. In fact, a second Racing Club was formed due to such popular demand.
“We started out with a group of 200 that all put up $ 500 and ended up having two groups fill up,” Palmisano said. “It started out as a group of people that were just solely looking for an entrance into the sport and have always either wanted to own horses or own horses at a lower level. This really gave them an opportunity to jump into the game and be part of a racing club that gives them more experience in Thoroughbred ownership.”
Both Racing Club horses are trained by Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas, who expressed delightment in helping give the Racing Club members such a thrill at a higher level. Palmisano echoed these sentiments.
“It was really special for me,” Palmisano said. “Obviously this has been a good journey over the past six or seven months, and it has been very rewarding for both me and Wayne and to see so many people that excited and so genuinely happy is great. Wayne has obviously won a magnitude of races throughout his career and I’ve been fortunate to be around winners in other horses and in winner’s circle photos in my life but it was that much more exciting to see how exciting all of the people in the group were and really how much it meant to them.”
While Warrior’s Club has been getting more buzz between the Racing Club’s two juveniles, the filly Dial Me will race in Saturday’s eighth race, a first-level allowance at one mile on the main track.
“She’s always shown a lot of ability,” Palmisano said. “She’s been a little unlucky in the sense that we tried to get her in a two-turn race and it didn’t fill. She’s running against some stiff competition in what appears to be a pretty competitive race. It’s really funny because she was the first winner of the Racing Club horses and the Warrior’s Club people were down in the dumps for a little bit while the Dial Me people got to experience the thrill of victory and now the tables have turned. We would expect both horses to give a big effort on Saturday.”
Overall, Palmisano has confidence that both horses can add to the excitement surrounding the Racing Club.
“Both seem to be doing fine,” Palmisano said “(D. Wayne Lukas) is adding blinkers to Dial Me just to keep her a little more aggressive and in the race early since it’s a one-turn mile race, but it seems like it’s all systems go with both of them.”
Jockey Robby Albarado, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club in 1999 aboard Captain Steve, will ride Warrior’s Club while Ty Kennedy will be aboard Dial Me.
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