LOUISVILLE, KY – Walking L Thoroughbreds, LLC’s Cairo Cat made it two in a row on Saturday, chasing down the even-money favorite Tight Ten in deep stretch to capture the Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The Iroquois is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Cairo Cat receiving an automatic berth in the Sentient Jet Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 2.
Dismissed by a majority of the betting public, Cairo Cat broke from post 8 at odds of 17/1 under Brian Hernandez, Jr., and sat near the rear for the early going. Meanwhile, Tight Ten broke alertly and took control heading into the first turn before posting fractions of :24.03, :48.74, and 1:14.06. Halfway down the back side, My Sixth Sense ranged up to apply outside pressure to the leader, but behind them, Cairo Cat surged along the rail to sit in third as the field began making the far turn. Tight Ten fended off My Sixth Sense’s challenge, then emerged onto the front stretch still in front. Cairo Cat chased from the rail until inside the final furlong, then tipped out and found a new gear. Running past the top choice with a strong kick, Cairo Cat finished a 1/2-length ahead in a final time of 1:45.35 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“He did everything we asked him,” said Hernandez, Jr. “We warmed up really good in the post parade. This was my first time I was on him and I thought to myself how smooth he was going. He traveled well the whole way around. He certainly didn’t travel like he was a 2-year-old. It’s easy to put in those type of rides with a horse that has that much confidence to put himself in spots like that.”
Though he yielded to the winner late, Tight Ten outlasted the remaining foes by several lengths. Pole Setter made a four-wide bid as he exited the far turn but flattened out in the stretch and took third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Tight Ten and 1 3/4 lengths past Tobacco Road. A head separated Everfast and Synthesis for fifth, while a head and a nose were the difference-makers for seventh through ninth between Manny Wah, Royal Urn, and a fading My Sixth Sense. Hog Creek Hustle, Mr Wrench It, and Drunk as a Skunk completed the order of finish.
The Iroquois is also part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Cairo Cat earned 10 points for the win, with Tight Ten receiving 4 for second, Pole Setter 2 for third, and Tobacco Road 1 for fourth.
Cairo Cat’s win was his second straight following a maiden-breaking effort over 7 furlongs at Saratoga on August 11. The Kenny McPeek-trained son of Cairo Prince, who finished eighth in his debut, now carries a record of 3-2-0-0 with earnings of $133,750.
“This is a really nice colt,” said assistant trainer Greg Geier. “Kenny told me after he broke his maiden to try the Iroquois, and here we are. He worked really well last week. We’ll see how he comes out of things, but it’s nice the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is right here in our backyard.”
Cairo Cat returned $36.20 to win, $13 to place, and $8.80 to show. Tight Ten brought back $3.20 to place and $2.60 to show, while Pole Setter paid $5.20 to show.