2021 Golden Rod Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By J. Keeler Johnson (TwinSpires.com)

1. Famed (2-1) – Half-sister to champion juvenile Essential Quality finished second in her debut before wiring a Keeneland maiden special weight by 7 3/4 lengths. The Brad Cox trainee has yet to run long, but is bred to relish stretching out in distance and has trained forwardly for her stakes debut. A competitive effort should be in the offing from this Godolphin homebred, especially when you consider how Cox wins at a 34% rate with horses stretching out in distance off a pair of sprints.

2. Cancel This (20-1) – The third time was the charm for Cancel This, who switched from pacesetting to rallying tactics in her third start and promptly won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs by half a length. But stretching out over 1 1/16 miles for the Golden Rod is a question mark, especially since Cancel This is a sibling to a pair of stakes-winning sprinters. She also comes in a bit light from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

3. Secret Oath (15-1) – Although Secret Oath was no match for Sandstone (see below) when third in her debut racing one mile at Churchill, the daughter of long-winded champion Arrogate enjoyed stretching out over 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 31, dominating a Churchill maiden special weight by 5 1/4 lengths. Secret Oath’s dam is Absinthe Minded, a late-maturing mare who placed multiple times at the Grade 1 level, so Secret Oath is eligible to improve with age. Don’t be surprised if she outruns expectations in the Golden Rod and snatches a spot in the trifecta.

4. Sandstone (8-5) – The most accomplished runner in the Golden Rod field enters off back-to-back blowout wins at Churchill Downs. After smashing a one-mile maiden special weight by nine lengths (counting Secret Oath among her beaten rivals), Sandstone came back to trounce the 1 1/16-mile Rags to Riches S. by 10 3/4 lengths. With Brisnet Speed ratings of 95 and 90 to her credit, Sandstone is the fastest filly in the Golden Rod field and will be tough to beat if she runs her typical race.

5. Hal’s Dream (20-1) – Conditioned by hot trainer Kenny McPeek, Hal’s Dream produced an eye-catching performance in her debut racing 1 1/16 miles over the Keeneland turf course last month. After racing near the back of the pack for six furlongs, Hal’s Dream exploded down the homestretch to rally and win by a nose. Considering McPeek doesn’t crank his juveniles to win on debut, Hal’s Dream is eligible to take a big step forward in her second start. Throw in the fact Hal’s Dream is a daughter of Preakness S. (G1) winner Exaggerator out of a mare by Belmont S. (G1) hero Empire Maker, and Hal’s Dream offers lots of appeal as a live longshot.

6. Yuugiri (3-1) – Although Yuugiri wasn’t a match for Sandstone when finishing second in the Rags to Riches, the daughter of Shackleford didn’t run a bad race by any means. She presented Sandstone with a stiff challenge at the top of the stretch, and once it became clear Sandstone had the winning momentum, Yuugiri eased up late to finish second by 15 1/4 lengths over the third-place runner. She’ll add blinkers for the Golden Rod and looms as a logical threat to finish in the top three under hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

7. Dream Lith (8-1) – This stoutly bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of a Street Cry mare has competed twice against top-level company, finishing fifth in both the Spinaway S. (G1) and Alcibiades S. (G1). She’ll face somewhat easier company in the Golden Rod and is a logical choice for trifecta and superfecta tickets, though her recent Brisnet Speed ratings (81 and 83) are a little light compared to the top contenders.

8. Code for Success (12-1) – A maiden winner dashing six furlongs at Ellis Park, Code for Success hasn’t been as effective since stepping up in class and distance, finishing fourth by wide margins in the Pocahontas S. (G3) and a Keeneland allowance. The daughter of Honor Code is bred to improve with maturity, but with a career-best 77 Brisnet Speed rating under her belt, she’ll need a meaningful step forward to challenge against this caliber of competition.