Dennis' Moment aces stakes debut in Churchill's Iroquois

September 14, 2019 05:24pm
It's a ways to go before Dennis' Moment can truly up to the lofty expectations placed upon him, but the 2-year-old colt took an important step toward races such as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby when winning Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Iroquois Stakes.

With new jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. guiding him, the son of Tiznow hit the wire under wraps in a stakes-record time of 1:43.58, earning a fees-paid berth to the Nov. 1 Juvenile at Santa Anita Park.

This followed a 19 1/2-length maiden special weight victory in July at Ellis Park that put Dennis' Moment, an Albaugh Family Stables runner, on the radar as one of the best early runners from his crop.

"This horse is speaking for himself from now on," said trainer Dale Romans. "I don't have to build him up anymore. He showed us what he can do. He's just an amazing animal.

"He goes out there and does it with his ears up like he's just galloping around. The jock was shutting him down the last sixteenth of a mile and he still runs the time he did; he's something special."
Taking an outside trip until clear in the stretch, the colt rallied three-wide through the far turn to take the lead with authority, navigated to a rail that was playing well at Churchill Downs and had this race put away well before the finish line.

Ortiz Jr. sat still on Dennis' Moment as they hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of the fast-closing Scabbard. Lebda ran third in the field of 11 juveniles with aspirations of going longer and running for richer purses down the line.

"He felt great, really great for a 2-year-old," Ortiz Jr. said. "He did everything right. I asked him to run and he was going really well. He had some more, but I saved it for the end. He was going to win going away, so I didn’t ask him for any more.”

Romans said all that he feared Saturday was getting caught in a speed duel. Dennis' Moment avoided that when letting longshot Juggernaut click off fractions of 23.35 and 47.31 to open proceedings while pressed by Lebda.

Positioned fourth up the back stretch and in the clear, Dennis' Moment kicked in as they rounded the far turn.

"Right here is an invitation to the Breeders' Cup in my hand -- they officially delivered it," said Dennis Albaugh, the colt's owner and namesake. Albaugh will also see his horse atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings with the first batch of 2020 qualifying points paid out on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Iroquois' Top 4 finishers.

Romans confirmed Dennis' Moment will train up to the Nov. 1 race at Santa Anita Park, with the Juvenile a race these same connections narrowly missed in 2016 with Not This Time.


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