One of the great things about the Thoroughbred racing game is the year-round excitement. Of course, this part of the calendar can add a little more juice to the poker game pot as the stakes are a bit higher. Everyone with a talented three-year-old hopes to play their cards right with the flop yielding a trip to the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks. Just having one high card in the hole is good, having a pocket pair is even better.
Veteran trainer Tom Amoss is one of those lucky ones with some perceived face cards now that the calendar has turned to 2023. That was cards as in plural. Blessed to have a pair of talented runners, this Louisiana-based conditioner is currently thinking Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
Curly Jack is a son of Good Magic with lots of promise. After breaking his maiden at first asking at Churchill Downs last June, this grandson of Roman Ruler won the Iroquois Stakes in September and then finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in late November. The significance here is all three races were beneath those same twin spires, home of the Kentucky Derby. Sandwiched in between were a fifth-place finish in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, a second in the Ellis Park Juvenile, and a fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Stabled currently at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Jack is readying for a run at the first Saturday in May. A four-furlong work (49.40) on January 15 has Amoss smiling about this particular card.
“He has come back from a brief vacation and is looking like an improved colt”, says Amoss, winner of over 4,000 races. “He has had to learn how to compete, but we think he is doing great right now. We are excited to see him get back to the track.”
Curly Jack is slated to make his three-year-old debut at Fair Grounds on February 18 in the Risen Star Stakes.
Hoosier Philly is the other exciting three-year-old in the Amoss barn. Unbeaten in three starts, this daughter of Into Mischief has been a real looker. All three of her wins have come at Churchill Downs with the last two being in Stakes company (Rags to Riches, Golden Rod) by a combined 12 ½ lengths. With the Kentucky Oaks firmly in her sights, this granddaughter of Tapit has the excitement flowing.
“She looks like the same magnificent horse she was last year”, says Amoss, winner of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks with Serengeti Empress. “She has gotten some time off too as we are looking forward to a busy three-year-old campaign.”
Hoosier Philly is scheduled to get her three-year-old party also started on February 18 in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds.
Those familiar with the road that leads to the big table in Louisville understand it is a long time until the flop, the turn, or the river. Tom Amoss is doing his best to maintain a poker face right now, but this New Orleans native might just be holding a pocket pair of aces.