Risk It a speedy gate-to-wire winner on debut Aug. 19 at Saratoga (NYRA/Coglianese)
Churchill Downs Press Release
LOUISVILLE, Ky.— The Road to Kentucky Derby 150 will begin Saturday at Churchill Downs where Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s impressive maiden special weight winner Risk It headlines a field of nine 2-year-olds that entered the 42nd running of the Grade III, $300,000 Iroquois Stakes.
The Iroquois Stakes is the first of 37 races on the traditional Road to the Kentucky Derby where horses will attempt to qualify for the 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) to be staged on Saturday, May 4, 2024. The Iroquois will award the top five finishers points on a 10-5-3-2-1 scale as the first of 21 “Prep Season” races.
Saturday’s Iroquois, which was shortened in distance in 2023 from 1 1/16 miles to one-mile, will be run as Race 9 with a post time of 4:55 p.m. (all times Eastern). The first of 11 races will get underway at 12:45 p.m. The spectacular card will also feature the $300,000 Pocahontas (GIII), the kickoff on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The other stakes on the program are the $400,000 Locust Grove (GIII), $300,000 Open Mind (Listed) and $300,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will attempt to win his fourth-career Iroquois with his trainees Risk It and Edified. Risk It, a precocious 2-year-old son of Gun Runner, dominated a six-furlong maiden special weight contest on Aug. 19 at Saratoga by 4 ½ lengths under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Risk It earned a solid 91 Brisnet speed rating for his debut win. Gaffalione will be back aboard in the Iroquois from post No. 8.
Asmussen’s second entry in the Iroquois, Courtlandt Farms’ Edified, broke his maiden on July 1 at Ellis Park by a widening 3 ½ lengths at odds of 9-1. The runner-up in that race, Liberal Arts, returned to break his maiden at Ellis Park and will once again face Edified in the Iroquois. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will have the mount on Edified from post 4.
Asmussen previously won the Iroquois with Lucky Player (2014), Astrology (2010) and Capt. Candyman Can (2008).
Another visually impressive maiden special weight winner that entered the Iroquois is Mellon Patch’s Patriot Spirit. Trained by Mike Campbell, Patriot Spirit powered clear to a six-length victory on debut at Colonial Downs. The son of Constitution arrived to Churchill early Monday morning in preparation for Saturday’s race. He’ll once again be ridden by veteran Jesus Castanon from post 9.
Here is the complete field for the Iroquois from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Liberal Arts (Cristian Torres, Robert Medina); West Saratoga (Rafael Bejarano, Larry Demeritte); Union Roll (Gerardo Corrales, Todd Pletcher); Edified (Santana, Asmussen); Market Street (Gabe Saez, Wayne Lukas); Seize the Grey (Jaime Torres, Wayne Lukas); Gettysburg Address (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox); Risk It (Gaffalione, Asmussen); and Patriot Spirit (Castanon, Campbell).
The Iroquois Stakes is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Dirt Dozen” where the top three finishers will receive a partial credit towards their entry fees in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.