Add 3 new youths, keep 3 others

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicap watchlist, reviews runners that have recently caught his eye, and previews horses slated to run back in the near future.

New to Watchlist

Hoosier Philly

Three starts, three wins. Exciting 2-year-old filly Hoosier Philly kept her perfect record intact with a spectacular victory in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs, cementing her status as the early favorite for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks.

Much like her fun in the Rags to Riches a month ago, Hoosier Philly passed her rivals with ease, setting several lengths in 24.29 seconds, 47.79 seconds and 1:12.28 before ran clear to dominate by five lengths. The daughter of Into Mischief went 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.94 seconds and looks like a possible Grade 1 guy in the making for trainer Tom Amoss.

Gun pilot

The Three Chimneys Farm son of 2017 Gun Runner Horse of the Year, Gun Pilot looked like a future stakes star when he debuted in a seven-furlong special weight at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Gun Pilot showed speed early on, hitting the opening quarter mile in 22.88 seconds before taking over the half mile in 46.63 seconds. From there the result was never in doubt as trainee Steve Asmussen managed to beat 11 rivals by three lengths.

Gun Pilot finished nicely (running the last three furlongs in 37.39 seconds) to cover seven furlongs in 1:24.02. He was bred up and down to thrive running a lot and consider spring classics, so all signs point to Gun Pilot being a player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Point proven

The third time was the charm for Point Proven, a son of Gun Runner out of a mare by Preakness winner Bernardini. Approaching a special weight of 1 1/8 miles Saturday at Churchill Downs, Point Proven chased the pace in fractions of 23.82 seconds, 47.80 seconds and 1:12.96 before pulling away to win by five lengths.

Point Proven sprinted down the final furlong in an excellent 12.33 seconds to complete the race in 1:50.80 seconds. Todd Pletcher conditions the colt for the partnership between Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, and it’s not hard to imagine Point Proven improving with age (as his pedigree suggests) and becoming a threat for the 2023 Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes could be a fit and better.

Recent Watchlist winners

Instant coffee

He rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) to post a decisive victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. Being off the pace through slow splits of 24.76 seconds, 50.00 seconds and 1:15.02 was certainly disadvantageous for Instant Coffee, but as the pacers weakened in the home race, Instant Coffee managed to beat Curly/Jack winner Iroquois (G3). 4 lengths.

Instant Coffee was full of runs on the home stretch, running the fourth quarter mile in a cool 23.75 seconds and finishing sixteenth in 6.23 seconds, according to Trakus. This Brad Cox trainee is making progress in the right direction and is shaping up to be one to watch on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Formation of Victoria

Victory Formation could have thrown in the towel on a $100,000 optional allowance contender’s main road Saturday at Churchill Downs. After battling hard for the lead with splits of 21.44 and 45.11 seconds, Victory Formation lost the lead to Two Eagles River, who were considering a third-place duel.

But as a son of Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit out of a mare by Smart Strike, Victory Formation is bred for stamina and it looks like the bay colt had something left in the tank. Fighting back in the final furlong, Victory Formation regained the lead to win by a neck, completing the six-furlong sprint in 1:09.52 seconds. Looks like Brad Cox has another talented 2-year-old in his stable.

It’s worth another try

Western Willpower

Ran a gallant race as he wound up in top-level company for the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs, setting fractions of 23.94 seconds, 48.51 seconds and 1:12.76 before digging deep to miss out by three quarters of a length against the pace- Chase Proxy. His final time of 1:48.89 seconds for 1 1/8 miles was solid, so I’ll keep West Will Power on my watch list and see if he can continue his progress going forward in 2023.

Off the watch list

Tres Soles

He failed to challenge for the second straight race, finishing seventh by 22 1/4 lengths in a $100,000 feature allowance Saturday at Churchill Downs. I’ll want to see Tres Soles come back with a stronger run before I play it again.

Here is my complete and updated list of Horses to Watch.

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