Horse Racing Nation expert picks: Iroquois Stakes

Horse Racing Nation expert picks: Iroquois Stakes
Photo: NYRA

The Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes is the first race of the Kentucky Derby trail. In addition to the purse (which is effectively $300,000, since all of the entrants are Kentucky-bred), the race offers 10-5-3-2-1 road to the Kentucky Derby points to its top five finishers. The race also offers its top three finishers partial coverage of their entry fees for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The Iroquois field features nine horses led by 2-1 morning-line favorite Risk It. He showed serious talent in his debut maiden win, though all of the runners are lightly raced and 2-year-olds can improve quickly.

Iroquois 2023 odds and picks: Ky. Derby trail gets underway

This is how writers at Horse Racing Nation plan to play the Iroquois Stakes.

Candice Curtis, Horse Racing Nation

Winner: No. 4 Edified

On the board: No. 2 West Saratoga, No. 6 Seize the Grey

Long shot I like: No. 4 Edified

Analysis: I am excited to bet one horse Saturday, and that is no. 4 Edified in the Iroquois. At this time of year, the juveniles are improving in spurts, and one dominant winner can be passed easily in his next start with the benefit of time on his rivals. I like everything about Edified, from his pedigree to his running style – though his rough start in the Saratoga Special (G2) pretty much removed any late punch he had. If I am feeling especially creative, I will use Edified on top in a trifecta using no. 2 West Saratoga and no. 6 Seize the Grey for an upset special ticket.

Ed DeRosa, Horse Racing Nation

Winner: No. 9 Patriot Spirit

On the board: No. 8 Risk It

Long shot I like: No. 4 Edified

Analysis: Not too creative here as the outside horses look the best of this group. Will bet Patriot Spirit to win, expecting a longer price on him, and also play an exacta with him and Risk It.

Ron Flatter, Ron Flatter Racing Pod

Winner: No. 4 Edified

On the board: No. 8 Risk It

Long shot I like: No. 6 Seize the Grey

Analysis: Edified had everything go wrong for him in the Saratoga Special, so that is the ultimate line-through-it race. He is more likely to come from off the pace, a key to success in this race when it was 1 1/16 miles. I also like the other-Asmussen angle, if only for the value. Risk It is the first Asmussen, but so was Jackie's Warrior not so long ago. If he turns into another one-turn wonder, Risk it could wire the field here, but again, I am counting on someone winning this with a rally. Seize the Grey may be the wise-guy horse, and I certainly will have a sprinkle on him to win. D. Wayne Lukas told me on my podcast he was surprised by the morning-line odds for him. I may be happy that Coach is surprised.

Jarrod Horak, Today's Best Bet

Winner: No. 8 Risk It

On the board: No. 3 Union Roll

Long shot I like: No. 1 Liberal Arts

Analysis: Risk It was strong throughout in his wire-to-wire score in his Saratoga sprint debut. The $500,000 Gun Runner colt has had this race on his radar screen for quite some time. Union Roll was professional in his Monmouth debut. He is bred to go this far. Liberal Arts can spice up the exotics. The Arrogate colt exits an extended sprint maiden win and is on the upswing. 

Rowan Ward, Horse Racing Nation

Winner: No. 6 Seize the Grey

On the board: No. 3 Union Roll, No. 4 Edified

Long shot I like: No. 6 Seize the Grey

Analysis: He needed his debut, but Seize the Grey put it together second-out when he wired a maiden special weight sprint at Saratoga; he overcame some trouble to rally for third in the Skidmore, showing the maturity to adapt and run well from off the pace as well. Union Roll showed a stalking style in his debut win at Monmouth and his pedigree suggests he will thrive at this mile trip. Edified is the second-stringer from the Asmussen barn, but had enough trouble in the Saratoga Special to bet that he can bounce back to his smart-looking debut at Ellis.

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