September 16th 2016
The road to the 2017 Kentucky Derby officially begins this Saturday where it ends–at Churchill Downs with the Iroquois Stakes. This is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile race and the winner also gets 10 points in the Kentucky Derby standings.
The race is named after the horse Iroquois–the first American horse to win the Epson Derby. Four years ago this race was increased from one mile to 8 1/2 furlongs (1 1/16th mile). The past three years, this race has spawned just three Kentucky Derby starters: Tapiture and Ride On Curlin in 2013 and Mr. Z in 2014.
Overall, I feel the field for this year’s race–at this point in these 2 year-olds careers–appears to be better than the last three Iroquois Stakes fields. I also feel that there is at lease one future 2017 Kentucky Derby starter in this field. Perhaps even two or three. Five horses to watch closely are Not This Time, Blame Will, Recruiting Ready, Lookin At Lee and Thirstforlife.
I generally avoid trying to handicap 2 year-old races since they are often inconsistent. However, I really like two horses in this field: Not This Time and Blame Will.
Dale Roman’s Not This Time ran a sub 1:36 mile at Ellis Park back on August 12th. He won by 10 lengths with a winning time of 1:35.99. Consider that American Pharoah’s first recorded mile time came in the 1 1/16th mile 2014 FrontRunner Stakes where he ran the mile in 1:35.77 and a 1:41.95 final time.
D. Wayne Lukas’s Blame Will earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start at Saratoga. He was purchased as a yearling for $600,000, so there are high expectations for this colt. His sire Blame won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
If this is run on a dry, fast track, I expect the winning time to be 1:42 to 1:43 range. Below are the post-positions, jockeys and morning line odds:
The Iroquois Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Saturday September 17th – Race #8 at Churchill Downs – Post-Time: 5:59 PM CST. Televised by TVG
Post Horse/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Lookin At Lee – Castellano/Asmussen – 6-1
2. Honor Thy Father Lucky – Lanerie/McPeek – 8-1
3. Skinflint – Castanon/Kobiskie – 20-1
4. Thirstforlife – Geroux/Casse – 7-2
5. Blame Will – Saez/Lukas – 4-1
6. Just Move On (118) – Valdiva/Byrne – 10-1
7. Recruiting Ready (118) – Stevens/DePaz – 3-1
8. Not This Time (118) – Albarado/Romans – 4-1