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Iroquois Preview: Lukas Still Looking For First Success In Race
Lukas posing with Bravazo, one of his many graded stakes winners (Credit: Coady Photography)

Iroquois Preview: Lukas Still Looking For First Success In Race

LOUISVILLE, KY – Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas will saddle Notary while still looking for his first training success in Saturday’s $200,000 Iroquois Stakes Presented by Ford (G3) at Churchill Downs.

The winner of the Iroquois will receive an automatic position in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

The Iroquois is a one-turn dirt mile open to 2-year-olds that also marks the start of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby prep race series. The top four finishers will receive points toward a start in next year’s Derby starting gate on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

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The 2020 edition of the Iroquois attracted a field of 11 colts, including 5 who are making their second career starts. Let’s look at how they’ll line up:

#1 Drop Anchor – He overcame a poor start to win a 6-furlong Ellis Park dirt sprint by 1 1/2 lengths while debuting for trainer Kenny McPeek and jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. Those two teamed up to win this race in 2018 (McPeek’s second and the rider’s first) and have a 16% overall success rate together.

#2 Sittin On Go – He flew off to a 4 1/4-length victory while making his career debut in a 5-furlong dirt sprint at Ellis Park. While his jockey that day opted to stay aboard his Dale Romans stablemate, new rider Corey Lanerie is no slouch, having finished as the winningest jockey in 7 of the past 9 Churchill Downs meets.

#3 Super Stock – He broke his maiden at third asking, driving off to a 3 1/2-length score in the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity at Lone Star Park. One of two entries for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (the winningest trainer in Churchill Downs history), he’ll attempt to cover the longest distance of his career after never running beyond 5 1/2 furlongs in the past.

#4 Ultimate Badger – The second Romans entry was an impressive 4 1/2-length victor in his debut, a 5-furlong sprint over a muddy Ellis Park main track. Joe Talamo, aboard that day, retains the mount and will try extending his recent success with Romans runners; they have won 6 of their past 27 mounts together.

#5 Dreamer’s Disease – He broke slowly in his debut and never factored into the running, but he rebounded with a sharp victory in his next start, taking the field gate to wire in a mile-long Ellis Park turf route. He should handle the distance, and trainer Robertino Diodoro has a 31% success rate with horses making similar surface changes.

#6 Belafonte – After breaking his maiden on debut in a 7-furlong muddy sprint at Ellis Park, owner/trainer Thomas Humphries adds blinkers for his second career start. His proven form on an off track should help his chances if the skies open (which often happens on Kentucky Derby Day), and he reunites with Declan Cannon.

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#7 Pico d’Oro – He broke his maiden at third asking while stepping up to the stakes ranks in the Runhappy Juvenile, a 7-furlong dirt sprint at Ellis Park. The Curlin colt has improved his Beyer Speed Figures with each successive start while also stretching out in distance each time, a good sign as he attempts to go an extra furlong.

#8 Midnight Bourbon – He was third on debut behind Notary, then bounced back to break his maiden over the same Ellis Park dirt by 5 1/2 lengths. Both starts came in two-turn mile events, so he should handle this distance without issue, and is the second runner from an Asmussen barn that is currently hitting at 21% with juveniles.

#9 Crazy Shot – He fought hard in the stretch with a four-wide trip to pull off a 20/1 upset in his career debut, a 5-furlong dirt sprint at Ellis Park. Edgar Morales hops back aboard the Calumet Farm homebred for the second time while still seeking his first graded stakes victory; he was among the top riders in both of 2018’s local meets while riding as an apprentice.

#10 Therideofalifetime – A blowout 8 1/4-length maiden victory in his second start earned him a shot in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2), where he finished second. He has yet to race beyond 6 furlongs in his career, but he’s bred to handle longer distances and picks up the services of Florent Geroux, who has 4 Breeders’ Cup wins on his resume, including the 2017 Classic.

#11 Notary – He failed to menace when debuting in a local 6-furlong dirt sprint in late June, but he stretched out strongly next time out, defeating Midnight Bourbon and four others in the 1-mile Ellis Park event. The legendary Lukas has trained a record 20 Breeders’ Cup champions, including 5 in the Juvenile, and is running out of Churchill Downs stakes that he hasn’t won.

The Iroquois serves as race 10 and is one of seven stakes on the Saturday card at Churchill Downs, which is highlighted by the Kentucky Derby (G1). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on September 12 at Kentucky Downs with the Runhappy Turf Sprint (for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint).

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.

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