The Kentucky Jockey Club is a Grade II race typically run the last week of November under the twin spires at Churchill Downs. Inaugurated in 1920, the race has been run at the current 1 1⁄16 mile (8.5 furlongs) distance since 1980. The race is open to two-year-olds and currently offers a purse of $200,000.
The Kentucky Jockey Club is one of more than 40 races in the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ series, and since Churchill Downs initiated the Road series in 2013, the race has awarded Derby qualifying points to the top-4 finishers (10-4-2-1).
Five horses have won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and then returned the next spring to win the Kentucky Derby. The most recent Derby winner was Super Saver (2009), who set a Kentucky Jockey Club race record with a final time of 1:42.83. The previous horse to pull the Jockey Club/Derby double was Cannonade (1974).
The two most recent winners of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes were both favorites in fields of at least 12 juveniles. McCraken (4-5) won by more than a length in 2016 and Enticed (3-1) got up late to win by a head in 2017. The 2015 winner was Airoforce (7-2), who not only beat future Derby runners Mor Spirit and Mo Tom, but also caught Gunner Runner in the stretch.
The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes concludes the Churchill Downs Fall Meet annually near Thanksgiving. During the tracks September meet, the Iroquois Stakes is run as the first race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. That race is worth following, as not only do some runners participate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in early November, but some will run in both the Iroquois and the Kentucky Jockey Club. Seven horses have completed the juvenile double at Churchill Downs in winning the Iroquois and Kentucky Jockey Club: Highland Park (1982), Richman (1990), Ide (1995), Exploit (1998), The Cliff’s Edge (2003), Tiz Wonderful (2006), and Uncaptured (2012).