We will take a look at the top contenders as we set our focus on the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs this Saturday afternoon when it takes center stage.
Turning to this weekend’s major graded stakes race schedule, the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs this Saturday afternoon takes center stage at Heritage as the top race for two-year olds. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 miles and the total prize purse is set at $150,000. The following is a look at a few of my top contenders to notch an important victory in the early stages of the 2016 Kentucky Derby Trail.
A full field of 12 horses has been entered into Saturday’s race, but one two-year old colt that stood out from the rest is trainer Dale Roman’s Unbridled Outlaw as a 4/1 favorite on the betting odds. This will be his first run in a graded stakes race after placing third in a Maiden Special Weight race at Churchill in late June. The main reason for the interest is his pedigree from Unbridled Song with the famed horse Unbridled as a direct sibling. I also like the fact that this colt is Kentucky bred.
Another two-year old colt that caught my eye for this race is Expected Ruler . Trained by Liam Benson and bred in Florida, he ran a solid race his first time out with a victory in Tyro Stakes over a distance of five furlongs at Monmouth Park on Aug. 19. While he will be extended to a much longer distance in the Iroquois, it is always interesting to see what a juvenile can do coming off a win his first time out.
Moving down my sports picks list, I am very interested to see how Kentucky bred Cocked and Loaded bounces back in this race after finishing a disappointing sixth his last time out in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga on July 25. Trained by Larry Rivelli, this juvenile has been busy this year with back-to-back victories starting with a win in a Maiden Special Weight race at Keeneland in early April followed by a solid victory in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont on June 6.
One other horse that I would possibly work into the mix for a top-three finish on Saturday would be Baychino. Trained by Kelly Breen, this two-year old colt has already finished in the money in his first race by taking third in a Maiden Special Weight race at Monmouth Park on July 17 over a distance of 5 ½ furlongs. The next test will be to stay with the pack on Saturday over a much longer distance.
Another major stakes races for two-year olds this Saturday on Churchill Downs card is the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes for juvenile fillies. This race is contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 mile and the total prize purse is set at $200,000.
Right now there are eight two-year old fillies entered in the field for this year’s Pocahontas Stakes including Decked Out. Trained by Keith Desormeaux, this Kentucky bred filly has been busy this year with four previous races. She faded to fourth her last time out in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga after finishing in the money in each of her first three tries. She won a Maiden Special Race at Santa Anita Park her first time out before finishing second in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont in early June and third in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga on July 24.
One other horse that has caught my eye for Saturday’s race is Bold Quality. This two-year old filly is also trained by Kelly Breen and she was victorious her first time out in a 5 ½ furlong Maiden Special Weight race at Philadelphia Park on Aug. 10. This race will be a big step-up in class, but I really liked the way she looked in her debut.