The juvenile horse racing season is in full swing and a key major graded stakes race for two-year-old thoroughbreds takes place this Saturday at Churchill Downs with the running of the 2016 Iroquois Stakes. This event is part of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series for the Sentient Jet Juvenile on Nov. 5.
The Iroquois Stakes is one of the first steps on the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail for up and coming two-year-old thoroughbreds with long-term aspirations to compete in next year’s Triple Crown racing series. The final field for this Saturday’s featured event at Churchill is still taking shape, but the following three contenders would be my top trifecta play in this race.
2016 Iroquois Stakes- Churchill Downs
The Iroquois is a Grade 3 stakes race for two-year-old thoroughbreds and it will be contested on the dirt track at Churchill over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The total prize purse for this year’s event has been set at $150,000.
The current field for Saturday’s race has eight contenders listed as probable, but the top contender on my handicapping sheet would be trainer Dale Romans’ Not This Time. This two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt is the only entry in the field with a Horse Racing Nation rating set at 6.34, but the main reason I like his chances to take the top prize in this year’s Iroquois is a strong showing in a recent Maiden Special Weight race at Ellis Park where he placed first over a distance of a mile.
This followed a finish out of the money in fourth place in a shorter Maiden Special Weight race at Churchill in late June, but Romans have been encouraged with this colt’s progress at longer distances.
My second choice for the race would be Lookin At Lee. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt has already shown that he has what it takes to be a winner with a first place run in the non-graded Ellis Park Juvenile on Aug. 6 over a distance of seven furlongs. He may be challenged at the longer distance of this race in his first start over a mile, but an early track record of two wins in three events is always a promising sign.
He started his juvenile campaign with a fifth-place run in a five-furlong Maiden Special Weight race at Churchill in early June but bounced back with a victory in an MSW event at Ellis Park on July 22 over six furlongs.
Rounding out my top three horse racing picks for this race is trainer Dane Kobiskie’s entry Skinflint. The main reason I was attracted to this two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt was a recent victory in a seven-furlong MSW race at Gulfstream Park in which he demonstrated an excellent pace throughout the entire race. At this point in the juvenile racing season, I look for horses that are learning how to win races regardless of the competition in the field.
This is another colt that bounced back quickly from a rocky start after falling to fourth in an MSW on June 26 at Gulfstream over a distance of five furlongs. He joins my list of contenders that appears to be best suited to succeed over the longer distance in a race such as this Saturday’s Iroquois, make sure to check today's Odds Board before placing your bets.