(Knicks Go / Photos by Holly M. Smith)
Knicks Go, a four-time Grade 1 winner and a dominating winner of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the 2018 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at 2, will retire to Taylor Made Stallions at the conclusion of his racing career, the farm announced Monday.
Campaigned by Korea Racing Authority, Knicks Go is currently the top-ranked older horse on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Thoroughbred Poll as he prepares for his next start in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 6. A stud fee will be announced after the Breeders’ Cup.
“The KRA’s goal was to buy and race in the U.S. with an eye toward developing stallions,” said Jun Park, racing manager for the KRA’s United States stable. “As his name suggests, Knicks Go is a horse that was selected by a genome selection program called K-Nicks, which was designed to help select optimally excellent racehorses and stallions. To have done this for such a short time and to already have a multiple Grade 1 winner like Knicks Go is very gratifying. We are excited to stand him at Taylor Made, and we look forward to his next career as a stallion.”
An earner of $5,553,135 thus far in his racing career, Knicks Go is a Grade 1 winner from eight to nine furlongs and has run triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures of 113, 111, 108 (twice), 107, and 104, all in top company.
With his blend of speed and stamina, Knicks Go has recorded two track records at Keeneland, one of them in winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, where he sizzled a mile in 1:33.85. He also established a new course standard in his prep for the Dirt Mile, winning an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles by 10 1/4 lengths in a brisk 1:40.79.
While Knicks Go is a leader in the handicap division, he was also precocious. He broke his maiden on debut in July of his 2-year-old season, winning wire-to-wire by 3 1/2 lengths. Knicks Go went on to capture that year’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, running his rivals off their feet with a 5 1/2-length romp. He also finished second to eventual champion Game Winner in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Heading into the Breeders’ Cup, Knicks Go has been in a class by himself. He proved uncatchable in winning the historic Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in August by 4 1/2 lengths, defeating Grade 1 winners Maxfield and Silver State with a 111 Beyer. The 5-year-old simply crushed his rivals by 10 1/4 lengths in his prior start, taking the Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows in July, earning a career-best 113 Beyer.
In the $400,000 Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs on Oct. 2, Knicks Go toyed with the competition again, this time winning by four lengths geared down at the wire in his final prep for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. His final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:47.85, about a half a second off the 1999 track record set by Victory Gallop.
Among Knicks Go’s signature wins was a record-setting triumph in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland. With regular rider Joel Rosario aboard, Knicks Go assumed his customary position at the head of the field shortly after the break. He blitzed through fractions of :21.98, :44.40, and 1:08.25 before reporting home a facile winner in the sizzling time of 1:33.85 with a Beyer of 108. The final clocking lowered Liam’s Map’s previous record of 1:34.54 set in winning the 2015 Dirt Mile.
“He really is what a horse is supposed to be,” Brad Cox said of Knicks Go. “They are supposed to get faster and stronger as they get older. He’s a little bit of a throwback horse as far as accomplishing things early and then still being in training three years later.”
Knicks Go’s most lucrative victory to date came in this year’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park. In his seasonal debut and his first start since winning the Dirt Mile, Knicks Go sped to the front at the break of the 1 1/8-mile event and maintained a clear advantage throughout, ultimately scoring by 2 3/4 lengths. The tremendous effort earned a 108 Beyer. After the Pegasus win, Cox said, “Great horses do great things, an