The G3 Iroquois Stakes on October 28th has now
become a race with serious Kentucky Derby implications. It is not a prep race
within the Kentucky Derby qualification system but it may eventually be looked
at as one of the most crucial stepping stone races for two contenders. In their
first appearance since, Uncaptured and Overanalyze returned over the weekend.
Although they would not be facing each other they still shared something in
common - Grade 2 preps.
But that wasn’t all. The pursuit for what is now the most
important reward is going to be fun to watch. As we saw and will again many
more times, 2013 Kentucky Derby points aren’t always easy to score. Instead it may
take an all out battle to the wire. Forced to hang tough the most notable
similarity they shared on Saturday was their position when their pictures were
taken. The challengers dueled but these two came away with the win and the 10
Consequently what these thrilling wins also mean is that we’ll
be keeping tabs on them over the course of the next few months. Nothing is
certain but it looks like Overanalyze and Uncaptured are off to Florida for the
winter and will not race again until the 3-yr-old season begins to heat up. But,
before we get there let’s rewind and look at how they ended their Juvenile
seasons on top.
We begin with Uncaptured, winner of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. This Ontario Bred by Lion Heart and Captivating had already caught
the eye of many before Saturday so his win only confirms that those eyes were
on target. Trained by Mark Casse, Uncaptured sizzled like raw Canadian bacon as
he opened up a perfect 4 for 4 at Woodbine. The wins led him to the Grey Stakes
but it wasn’t his day. Instead he finished 5th and came back down to
As expected, Owner John Oxley and Casse agreed to pass on
the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and began heading south. Churchill Downs became a
very rewarding stop along the way and Uncaptured got his swagger back in the G3
Iroquois Stakes. Against a very tough G3 field he stalked before finding
another level and put the field away by 5 ½ in the final furlong.
Back to my original point about how the Iroquois Stakes served
as a pivotal point in his Juvenile season. Could he have won down the stretch
in the Jockey Club Stakes without his Iroquois performance? Sure he could have
but in my opinion it would have been much more difficult than it already was.
Winning for horses isn’t any different than us sometimes. When you win in
such convincing fashion ones confidence is bound to go up and the challenges
that come next can be met with a much different response.
My conclusion is that the Iroquois win was the perfect set
up for the stretch duel in the Jockey Club Stakes. Because he nailed it, Uncaptured
should be looked at as a top 5 contender for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. In some conversations he could be ranked as high as number 1 but there
isn’t anything that I can argue with about that reasoning. Finally, the biggest
thing that I like about this horse is that he ended the surface questions so
early. Any horse that races more on Synthetic than dirt is always going to be
looked at very carefully but none of that will be the case in the 3-yr-old
season for Uncaptured. It turned out to be a great decision to head to Churchill
Downs by his connections plus, it’s pretty cool that if he makes it to the
starting gate on May 4th we’ll already know how he feels about the
Overanalyze, winner of the G2 Remsen Stakes. By Dixie Union
and Unacloud, the KY bred colt broke his maiden in his career debut at Saratoga.
Then it was time to move into a race against graded company. However, another
Todd Pletcher horse named Shanghai Bobby owned the day in the G2 Hopeful Stakes
and Overanalyze would have to wait for another. Next time out was it in the G2
Futurity at Belmont. That win got him going the right direction and took him to
the G3 Iroquois.
Now here is where I believe there is a big difference as to
why the Iroquois proved to be a fortunate stepping stone for Overanalyze. Mainly
it has everything to do with his connections making a smart decision.
His 3rd place finish wasn’t that impressive. Because
it wasn’t the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was most likely ruled immediately. Owner
Mike Repole definitely prefers racing on the NYRA circuit but let’s not forget
that Todd Pletcher is becoming pretty content with the Jockey Club Stakes. His
first win was the sweetest because it became a staple for Super Saver en route
to winning the roses. Things looked awfully familiar last year when Gemologist
also won. Of course, Gemologist went a different direction in his 3-yr-old
season but Pletcher has to like the race and wants to try to win again with a
Both of his previous winners were owned by WinStar Farms and
prefer to be racing in Kentucky but there’s one thing about the 2012 Iroquois
Stakes that isn’t up for debate. Uncaptured dominated. Pletcher and Repole are
smart enough to know what they saw and assume that Uncaptured would likely return
for the Jockey Club. Based on that the choice was easy – head back to New York.
Great choice, Overanalyze performed up to his expectations and benefited from
leaving Churchill Downs.
My conclusion with Overanalyze is that he’ll move down to
Florida and Palm Meadows Training Center with Pletcher and come out strong in
his 3-yr-old season. In my opinion right now he has cracked the top ten
contenders list but there isn’t enough for me to declare him the best in
Pletchers’ barn. Shanghai Bobby has the edge but it will be interesting to see
if that changes in 2013. Finally, there’s the Jockey question but I think that’s
an easy one. Johnny V hasn’t been aboard since the G2 Futurity but when things
heat up next season, the mount is his if he wants it. Dominguez rode tough but
the trio of Velazquez, Pletcher and Repole seems more likely.