Friday 5: Who's the Iroquois upset pick over Dennis' Moment?

September 13, 2019 02:49pm
Friday 5: Who's the Iroquois upset pick over Dennis' Moment?
Photo: Bee Buck Photography
After struggling a bit handicapping turf stakes last week, thankfully there are some nice main tracks events to focus on this time around. Many eyes will fall on opening weekend at Churchill Downs, as it offers important 2-year-old races including the Grade 3, $200,000 Iroquois Stakes on Saturday for Derby candidates.

Dennis' Moment is a big presence in the race, but his win is not a sure outcome. After all, in racing the unforeseen happens on a weekly basis, and these are young horses.

While his ability is respected, I think it's worth playing against him, and I'll start with that upset contender.

Churchill Downs Race 9: Iroquois Stakes (G3)

With all the attention falling to Dennis' Moment, other horses are bound to show value in this race. One of them is Letmeno, who is listed at 10-1.

Letmeno broke his maiden at Ellis Park by starting slow and rallying from ninth to win a six-furlong sprint. Trainer Ian Wilkes then put him in the Ellis Park Juvenile, and Letmeno ran a good second.

Even though Letmeno finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Rowdy Yates, he arguably ran equal to him, asRowdy Yates set the pace on a surface that TimeformUS labels as speed-biased.

Letmeno did not race far off the pace, only falling two lengths behind at most. But when there is a bias, a two-length margin is a big one.

As for the routing pedigree, Letmeno's dam, Wickedly Mizz, is half-sister to Wickedly Perfect, the 2010 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) winner around two turns.

Without a doubt, Dennis' Moment is the best horse on paper. But there is no point in playing him, as he'll be odds-on in this spot.

Letmeno is useful as an alternative or alongside Dennis' Moment in horizontal wagers.

Churchill Downs Race 7: Open Mind Stakes

Awestruck faded to a distant third in the Shine Again Stakes at Saratoga, 10 ¼ lengths behind the winner Special Relativity. But it is strange that Awestruck and Mr. Al's Gal both faded as if they hooked up in a duel.

Perhaps the rail affected Awestruck given it played dead for much of the Saratoga meet. She ran too poor to believe.

Awestruck returns to Churchill Downs, where she owns an 8-3-2-0 record.

Two starts ago on this course, she finished runner-up to Mia Mischief in the Roxelana Stakes with Covfefe third in the same race. Forgive the seventh-place finish in the Winning Colors Stakes three starts back, as she experienced traffic trouble throughout the race, and still rallied mildly.

If Awestruck stays at 9-2 or higher, she is a good bet.

Churchill Downs Race 8: Locust Grove Stakes (G3)

The favorite in this race is Mylady Curlin, who rides an impressive five-race win streak. Part of that run includes a nose win over Golden Award in the DuPont Distaff (G3) at Pimlico and another nose win in the Lady Jacqueline Stakes at Thistledown. The familiar Escape Clause ran third.

But while she possesses heart, all streaks end at some point.

Go Google Yourself is slightly higher on the morning line at 3-1. She comes off a three-length win in the Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park and also finished second by ¾ of a length in the Doubledogdare Stakes (G3).

Further back in Go Google Yourself's form, she won an optional claimer at Fair Grounds, and in the same race Mylady Curlin finished fourth.

She also owns the right tactical speed and can set the pace if needed.

If Go Google Yourself stays at 3-1 or higher, she's worth a play.

Belmont Race 6: Maiden

Last week, a Chad Brown first-time starter named Democratic Values disappointed me. Brown gets another chance, though, in this spot.

Octava is an expensive filly owned by Stonestreet Stables. As with Democratic Values, the main concern is that her pedigree tilts towards routing with Medaglia d'Oro on top and the turf router Bachata underneath.

But why is John Velazquez on this filly? The morning line favorite is a Todd Pletcher first-timer named Mrs. S, and Manny Franco is riding her. In most instances, Velazquez rides for Pletcher if he shows up with a good horse.

Also, Octava is keeping nice company in her workouts. She worked evenly with the American Pharoah/Life at Ten filly Orsay on Sept. 8 and Rosy Scenario on Sept. 1. The latter filly is an expensive daughter of Malibu Moon.

Mrs. S moves well in the mornings and could win this, but Octava may offer better value and looks capable as well. Octava gets the narrow nod.

Emerald Downs Race 7: Claiming

Close the Show Lo is the top selection in this one-mile claimer.

For one, a couple of these fillies are mares are questionable at the one-mile distance, including Brilliant Bird and McDove. Close the Show Lo lacks any tries at a route distance since 2017. But she did win a two-turn route at Golden Gate that year and also ran consistently in her four other route tries.

Most horses do not lose their ability to route. They are born with preferences and capabilities that stick with them.

Also, trainer Frank Lucarelli is on fire, according to TimeformUS. He is rated as hot in two categories, including “Overall” and at “Emerald Downs.”

As for the favorite Beau Rocket, she recently won a one-mile claiming race over a field a lot weaker than this one. TimeformUS gave that race an 83 class rating, while this is 92. Her second one-mile race should be difficult.

At 5-1 or higher, Close the Show Lo is the choice.

 

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