5 Fast Facts about the FrontRunner Stakes, a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race
- First staged in 1970 by the Oak Tree Racing Association, the race was known through most of its history as the Norfolk Stakes until Oak Tree lost its lease to race at Santa Anita. It was renamed the FrontRunner Stakes in 2012, the name coming from a popular area at Santa Anita.
- Doubles as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, providing automatic entry for the winner to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and as a points race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
- The race has been dominated by the Bob Baffert stable, which has saddled seven winners in the past 20 years: Souvenir Copy (1997), Flame Thrower (2000), Kafwain (2002), Roman Ruler (2004), Lookin At Lucky (2009), Power Broker (2012), and American Pharoah (2014).
- Just as dominant was jockey Alex Solis, who also won the race seven times – none of which were on Baffert runners. He won aboard Snow Chief (1985), Bertrando (1991), Dixie Union (1999), Essence of Dubai (2001), Ruler’s Court (2003), Brother Derek (2005), and Street Hero (2008).
- Two of the first three Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners – Chief’s Crown in 1984 and Capote in 1986 –won the FrontRunner Stakes beforehand, but the only horse to complete the double since was Nyquist in 2015.
(Gormley photos by Coady Photo/Churchill Downs and Holly Smith)