McCraken clashes with full field in Kentucky Jockey Club

The Grade II, $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes features 12 two-year-olds vying for Kentucky Derby points and graded stakes glory at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The 11th of 12 races, post time for the 1 1/16th mile heat is 5:56 p.m. EST. Don’t forget to check out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#11 MCCRAKEN (7-2, morning-line favorite) looms large for trainer Ian Wilkes and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.; they paired up for two wins on Churchill’s Thanksgiving Day card, including the River City Handicap with Thatcher Street. MCCRAKEN was last seen winning the one-mile Street Sense Stakes with authority at Churchill Downs last month. He’s trained very well since (including a bullet work on Nov. 15) and has a good chance to raise his career record to 3-for-3.

#12 UNCONTESTED (5-1) was ultra-sharp in his debut, winning by six over next-out winner Untrapped. His connections are solid (Channing Hill riding for Wayne Catalano) and he fired a five-furlong bullet to prep for this, but this post could greatly inhibit his chances. He’ll have to prove he can handle the stretchout from 6.5 furlongs while likely negotiating a wide trip. He shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to the lead assuming he breaks well though.

#3 WILD SHOT (4-1) is the only other confirmed frontrunner in the field. He managed third in his first try around two turns in Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity Stakes despite setting a fast pace last time out and has drilled well for his return. However, Brian Hernandez Jr. jumps off in favor of the top choice, so WILD SHOT will have his fourth different rider in four races in Corey Lanerie.

#6 JUST MOVE ON (6-1) may be heard from late under Declan Cannon. He just picked up his first dirt win when catching his first fast track at Churchill last month.

The play: $4 exacta 11/12, $2 exacta 11/3,6, $2 exacta 12/11 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Corey Lanerie has the best chance of any jockey to hit the board (if not win) in both the featured Kentucky Jockey Club and the Golden Rod Stakes earlier in the card. He has WILD SHOT in the former and favored Daddy’s Little Darling (7-2) in the latter. Lanerie will be busy all day, with mounts in all but one of the 12 races at Churchill on Saturday.

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