Kentucky Derby Dreams Begin Saturday in G3 Iroquois

September 14, 2023

Iroquois favorite Risk It breaks his maiden on debut Aug. 19 at Saratoga (NYRA/Coglianese)

Trio of G1 Winners Face Off in G3 Locust Grove

Bango ‘Looks Like a Million Bucks’ Ahead of Record-Tying Attempt

Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Kentucky Derby dreams will begin Saturday for many owners, trainers and jockeys with the start of the Road to the 150th Kentucky Derby in the $300,000 Iroquois Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

Nine horses were entered in Saturday’s 42nd running of the Iroquois where Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Risk It was tabbed as the 2-1 morning line choice.

The one-mile Iroquois will begin the traditional Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 37 races where points will be offered for the top five eligible horses. The Iroquois begins the “Prep Season,” a series of 21 foundation-building races. As the calendar moves closer to Kentucky Derby 150, the points and distances of each race will increase. The top five finishers in the Iroquois will be awarded points on a 10-5-3-2-1 scale.

Several connections for horses in the Iroquois have already tasted victory in the “Run for the Roses.” In fact, the owners, trainers and jockeys in Saturday’s race have won a combined 20 Kentucky Derbys. Among the connections is owner Calumet Farm (Union Roll), who has a record eight wins in the Kentucky Derby, and four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas (Market Street and Seize the Grey).

Favored Risk It’s connections have seen firsthand what it’s like to compete in the Kentucky Derby. However, they’ve yet to win the world’s greatest race.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Risk It is by top sire Gun Runner, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Asmussen. Risk It broke his maiden on debut at Saratoga and enters the Iroquois with the top last race Brisnet Speed Figure of 91.

“He’s trained like he’ll get a mile,” Asmussen said following his maiden-breaking performance. “Obviously with his pedigree and what he’s shown to this point, we’re going to continue to dream.”

The Iroquois 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.

Here is the complete field for the Iroquois from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Liberal Arts (Cristian Torres, Robert Medina, 20-1); West Saratoga (Rafael Bejarano, Larry Demeritte, 8-1); Union Roll (Gerardo Corrales, Todd Pletcher, 5-1); Edified (Ricardo Santana Jr, Asmussen, 8-1); Market Street (Gabe Saez, Lukas, 8-1); Seize the Grey (Jaime Torres, Lukas, 10-1); Gettysburg Address (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox, 12-1); Risk It (Gaffalione, Asmussen, 2-1); and Patriot Spirit (Jesus Castanon, Michael Campbell, 7-2).

The Iroquois 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.

Trio of G1 Winners Face Off in G3 Locust Grove

Search Results gets her G1 in the 2021 renewal of the Acorn at Belmont Park (NYRA/Coglianese)

A stellar group of 11 fillies and mares are set to clash in Saturday’s $400,000 Locust Grove (GIII) at Churchill Downs, including three Grade I winners: A Mo Reay, Pauline’s Pearl and Search Results.

Klaravich Stables’ Search Results was tabbed as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite for trainer Chad Brown. The 5-year-old daughter of Flatter arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday from her Belmont Park base. The six-time winner enjoyed easy days Tuesday-Thursday under the watchful eye of Brown’s local assistant Josh Flores.

Search Results achieved Grade I glory as a 3-year-old in the Acorn Stakes but will attempt to find the winner’s circle for the first time since the 2022 Molly Pitcher (GIII). Jockey Tyler Gaffalione has the riding assignment from post No. 4.

Fellow Grade I winner Pauline’s Pearl arrived from New York one day after Search Results back to her Barn 38 home of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The 5-year-old daughter of Tapit defeated A Mo Reay and Bellamore in the Fleur de Lis (GII) 10 weeks ago at Ellis Park. Following her victory, Pauline’s Pearl shipped to Saratoga where she had eight works prior to the Locust Grove. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride the Stonestreet Stables homebred from post 2.

Trainer Brad Cox hopes Haruya Yoshida’s A Mo Reay rebounds in the Locust Grove from her tough trip in the Fleur de Lis (GII).

“She had a pretty tough trip that day,” Cox said. “(Pauline’s Pearl) beat us and we’re looking forward to facing her again Saturday. She’s been a very consistent filly for us. She tries hard and has been training forwardly at Churchill Downs since the Fleur de Lis.”

Jockey Flavien Prat will have the return call on A Mo Reay from post 7. Prat was aboard A Mo Reay for her victory in Beholder Mile (GI) at Santa Anita.

The Locust Grove sits on the calendar seven weeks from the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Santa Anita. Several horses have attempted to use the 1 1/16-mile race as a prep toward the Breeders’ Cup including 2021 Locust Grove winner Shedaresthedevil and 2018 winner Blue Prize (ARG).

Here’s the field for the Locust Grove (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Soul of an Angel (Ajhari Williams, Gerald James, 20-1); Pauline’s Pearl (Santana, Asmussen, 5-1); Le Da Vida (CHI) (Vince Cheminaud, Ignacio Correas IV, 7-2); Search Results (Gaffalione, Brown, 3-1); Misty Veil (James Graham, Mike Maker, 15-1); Hidden Connection (Cristian Torres, Bret Calhoun, 8-1); A Mo Reay (Prat, Cox, 5-1); Fannie and Freddie (Corey Lanerie, Al Stall Jr., 30-1); Music Street (Declan Cannon, Whit Beckman, 30-1); Falconet (Gerardo Corrales, Todd Pletcher, 6-1); and Royal Take Charge (Rey Gutierrez, Stall, 15-1).

Bango ‘Looks Like a Million Bucks’ Ahead of Record-Tying Attempt

Bango takes the St. Matthews overnight beneath the Twin Spires (Coady Photography)

Tamaroak Partners’ Bango is one win away from tying the all-time documented wins record at Churchill Downs and his trainer, Greg Foley, has been confident in his prized sprinter during his final training sessions ahead of Saturday’s $300,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society Stakes.

Bango, a 10-time winner beneath the historic Twin Spires, needs just one win to tie the documented record of Ready’s Rocket. The homebred son of Congrats has remained based in Kentucky throughout the summer and has continued to train well at Churchill Downs, according to Foley. Bango schooled twice in the paddock, Monday and Wednesday, and has been on the track for regular training sessions.

“He’s doing great and looks like a million bucks,” Foley said. “It would be great for this horse and my owners to have a place in the history books at Churchill Downs. This is our home and the owners have invested a lot into this game. This horse is very special to us.”

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will be back aboard Bango from post 4.

The six-furlong Louisville Thoroughbred Society will go as Race 4 on the 11-race stakes bonanza. First post is 12:45 p.m.

Here is the complete field for the Louisville Thoroughbred Society (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Baytown Bear (Jane Elliot, Paul McEntee, 30-1); Awesome Aaron (Rafael Bejarano, Troy Green, 30-1); Strobe (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 6-5); Bango (Gaffalione, Foley, 1-1); Gulfstream Way (Ricardo Santana Jr., Norm Casse, 6-1); and Necker Island (Mitchell Murrill, Chris Hartman, 8-1).

@PastTheWire wow. I am thankful you took the time to provide such detail about an all time great horse and the tragedy of that final race.

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