LOUISVILLE, KY – Albaugh Family Stables’ heavily-hyped Dennis’ Moment continued to shine on Saturday despite being under the spotlight, using a strong performance to win Saturday’s $200,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
The Iroquois is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Dennis’ Moment receiving an automatic berth in the TVG Juvenile at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking from post 8 as the 2/5 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Dennis’ Moment settled two-wide in fourth heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, a keyed-up Juggernaut posted swift opening fractions of :23.35, :47.31, and 1:11.96 while Lebda gave closest chase. Though the top seven raced within 7 lengths of the lead, January Won, Automate, and Letmeno trailed by a considerable margin down the back stretch.
Heading into the far turn, Dennis’ Moment tipped out to launch a three-wide bid for the lead. At the top of the stretch, Dennis’ Moment received his cue with aplomb and responded sharply, kicking away almost immediately.
Drawing off in the lane just as he did in his maiden-breaking blowout victory, Dennis’ Moment crossed 1 3/4 lengths much the best. The Dale Romans trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event in a final time of 1:43.58.
“He’s good, he’s a nice horse, he’s done everything he’s been asked to do,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He felt great, really great for a 2-year-old. He did everything right. I asked him to run and he was going really well. He had some more, but I saved it for the end. He was going to win going away, so I didn’t ask him for any more.”
Scabbard had to steady heading into the far turn and got shuffled back but managed to re-rally in the lane to get second by 5 1/4 lengths. Lebda weakened steadily in the stretch run before heading Letmeno for third. Rowdy Yates was a nose behind him, finishing an even fifth. January Won, Flute Maker, Automate, a spent Juggernaut, and a non-threatening Zyramid completed the order of finish.
Dennis’ Moment’s win was his second straight following a 19 1/4-length romp at Ellis Park to break his maiden. The 2-year-old son of Tiznow is named after owner Dennis Albaugh, who purchased him for $400,000 as a yearling. He has earned $147,800 in three career starts.
“This horse is speaking for himself, I don’t have to build him up anymore,” Romans said. “He’s just an amazing animal. He goes out there and does it, his ears up, like he’s just galloping around out there. The jock was shutting him down with 1/16 of a mile to go, and he still finished in the time he did. He’s something special.”
Romans left no doubt regarding his plans for his pupil’s next start, assuming he comes out of the race in good order.
“We’ll be going straight to the Breeders’ Cup from here.”
Dennis’ Moment returned $2.80 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Scabbard brought back $6 to place and $4 to show, while Lebda paid $6 to show.
As part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, the Iroquois awarded points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis.