Road to the Kentucky Derby Horse Profile

Breeders’ Futurity winner Knicks Go

KNICKS GO, let go at 70-1 in the October 6 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, sprang the biggest upset in the history of the race. While it might have been a fluke result, a case of the stars aligning just the right way at his home track, it’s worth noting this breakout came in his first try around two turns.

The Maryland-bred is by classy router Paynter, who nearly wired the 2012 Belmont S. (G1) before scoring his signature win in the Haskell Invitational (G1). Fans may remember Paynter best for the heroic battle he waged off the racetrack – his victory over life-threatening colitis and laminitis – that was voted the 2012 NTRA Moment of the Year.

Produced by the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Kosmo’s Buddy, Knicks Go twice toured the Keeneland sales ring. He brought $40,000 as a November weanling, but the following September, the yearling was sold to Korea’s KRA Stud Farm for $87,000.

Knicks Go, based at Keeneland with trainer Ben Colebrook, made his debut July 4 at Ellis Park. Dashing to the lead in the five-furlong maiden, he held sway by 3 1/2 lengths.

The gray colt shipped to Saratoga for the historic Sanford (G3), but never got close in fifth. Next Knicks Go tried the Arlington-Washington Futurity, where he chased the pace, only to retreat to a distant third.

Hence Knicks Go appeared up against it on the class hike for the Breeders’ Futurity. But now he was on his home court, and more significantly, able to grab command early. His rivals likely underestimating him, Knicks Go got away with a moderate pace, kicked clear by 5 1/2 lengths, and scored 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1).

His $142.00 win payout was the largest ever in the Breeders’ Futurity, almost doubling the old record of $74.60 set by Dawn of War (the 2005 winner).

Needless to say, questions remain about what Knicks Go accomplished here, and whether he can back this performance up. The “what-ifs” range from the scratch of morning-line favorite Mind Control, the Hopeful (G1) hero who was expected to be up on the pace; the trouble encountered by runner-up Signalman on the far turn; the fact that third-placer Standard Deviation, compromised by the far outside post 13, covered 54 feet more than Knicks Go, according to Trakus; and the poor start by 5-2 favorite Dream Maker, who never recovered after clipping heels early and wound up 12th.

Knicks Go thus has to prove himself again, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and along the Derby trail. If he has his sire’s spirited talent, he could answer the critique.