McCraken made it three-for-three over the Churchill Downs strip this year winning Saturday's $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), stamping himself as a leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender over the same track next May.

The off-the-pace, 1 1/4-length win under Brian Hernandez Jr. followed a maiden win over six furlongs on October 2 and an 8-1 upset of the $83,000 Street Sense over a mile on October 30.

The 4-5 favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club off the latter score, McCraken rated in ninth early as Uncontested led Wild Shot through splits of :23.45, :47.38, and 1:12.01. Rallying wide into contention around the far turn, McCraken took aim at Wild Shot in mid-stretch after Uncontested faded out, and wore down that rival to win in a time of 1:44.15.

As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Kentucky Jockey Club awarded points of 10-4-2-1 to its top four finishers. McCraken was followed by Wild Shot, Warrior's Club and Uncontested in earning points.

Owned by Janis Whitham, who has campaigned such luminaries as Bayakoa and Fort Larned, McCraken is trained by Ian Wilkes. Whitham, Wilkes, and Hernandez also captured the Mrs. Revere (G2) on turf at Churchill on Friday with the progressive filly Linda.

(Coady Photography)