2016 Iroquois Stakes: Two For One

September 17, 2016 02:16pm
Recruiting Ready wins at Pimlico (5-28-16)
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club

Since the Iroquois Stakes was moved from late October/early November to mid-September we have seen more Kentucky Derby hopefuls, than eventual starters. Although, a few select horses such as Tapiture, Ride on Curlin and Mr. Z did get their chance to run for the roses at Churchill Downs the following spring. Their bids would fall short, but their journey from the first points race all the way to the Kentucky Derby was very unique. Today the long road begins again when the scoring resumes in the 2016 Iroquois Stakes.

At 3-1, Recruiting Ready is the morning line favorite. The son of Algorithms--Need nearly scored his first graded stakes win in his debut race at Churchill Downs on July 2. He did it by attempting to wire the eight other juveniles in the field with swift fractions of 21.76, 45.07 and 56.97 on the front end. The strategy looked to be a winner until his bid to draw clear was outmatched by Classic Empire who reeled him in the final furlong to win the Bashford Manor – G3.

Next time out the Horacio DePaz trainee looked even closer to a graded stakes win in the Saratoga Special – G2 on August 14. However, what appeared to be an easy win quickly turned into another runner up finish when Gunnevera soared home to steal the race at the wire from the heavy post time favorite. And then things got even worse when Recruiting Ready was disqualified from second and placed fourth for making contact with Tip Tap Tapizar near the three-eighths pole and knocking him off his stride.

Today, Gary Stevens will be in the saddle for the first time. The assumption is that Recruiting Ready will be back in position to get things right this time out, but he will also be stretching to out to over 1 mile for the first time in his young racing career.

The second choice on the morning line is Thirstforlife. At 7-2 the son of Stay Thirsty - Promenade Girl returns to the track where he broke his maiden in his second career start. In between that effort and today was a respectable third place finish in the Best Pal – G3 at Del Mar, his graded stakes debut. In that contest Thirstforlife was in the mix throughout but he failed to fire a serious bid.

Florent Geroux returns for his second mount aboard Thirstforlife and first since he was in the irons for the colt’s career debut, a third place finish in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 5. Trainer Mark Casse will be attempting to win his second career Iroquois Stakes after notching his first in 2012 with Uncaptured.

Not This Time enters the Iroquois Stakes coming off his very first win for trainer Dale Romans. The one mile maiden victory by 10 lengths on the dirt at Ellis Park last month was his second career start. The son of Giant's Causeway – Miss Macy Sue is the co-third choice on the morning line.

Accompanying Not This Time at 4-1 is Blame Will, the son of Blame – Be My Prospect, trained by D. Wayne Lukas. This will also be his debut stakes race after a maiden win. Blame Will’s first victory came in his third career start and second at Saratoga after beginning his racing career here at Churchill Downs in June.

Lookin At Lee enters the Iroquois Stakes after winning back to back races at Ellis Park this summer. His first was in a maiden special weight race and followed by a more impressive score in the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes. Though the stakes race was not graded and only featured five starters, the Steve Asmussen trainee by Lookin At Lucky – Langara Lass should be considered a live option for a nice price if his odds remain near his morning line mark of 6-1.

Honor Thy Father for trainer Kenny McPeek follows Lookin At Lee to the Iroquois Stakes from the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes where he finished third. Prior to that the son of  To Honor and Serve – Hottie Dancer also broke his maiden at Ellis Park after striking out in his career debut at Churchill Downs last June. Coincidentally, Honor Thy Father finished behind Lookin At Lee in that race as well. Both horses missed the top three finishing fifth and sixth.

Just Move On moves into Churchill Downs for his first career start in the Bluegrass State after opening his career at Arlington Park earlier this summer. In two races from Chicago the Patrick Byrne trainee and son of Street Boss finished in the top three both times and won his last time out. Skinflint ships into Churchill Downs and the Kentucky racing circuit for the first time after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park last time out. The son of Super Saver, trained by Dane Kobiskie, was listed as the long shot on the morning line with odds of 20-1.

So this is your field for the kickoff point’s race in the Road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Keep in mind that the Iroquois Stakes is distinctive because this stakes race also represents the first Breeders’ Cup 2016 Win & You’re In qualifier for the Juvenile division. 


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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track & continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

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