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Check out our predictions and odds for the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs!
R Santana Jr
SEIZE THE GREY
D W Lukas
D W Lukas
Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
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The long and winding road to the 2024 edition of the Kentucky Derby officially begins on Saturday at Churchill Downs when the stylish debut winner Risk It headlines a field of nine 2-year-olds entered in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes.
Risk It, a well-backed son of Gun Runner ran to expectations in his first career start by dominating a 6-furlong maiden race at Saratoga four weeks ago for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The Hall of Fame trainer will be in search of his fourth career victory in the Iroquois and will saddle two on Saturday.
Asmussen’s other horse in the one-mile Iroquois is the Tapit colt Edified. He won his debut impressively on July 1 at Ellis Park, before finishing a troubled fifth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Besides Risk It, three other colts in the $300,000 race are undefeated after winning in their debuts. Among them is the Mike Campbell-trained Patriot Spirit.
The son of Constitution rolled to a six-length victory in his first career start going 7-furlongs at Colonial Downs three weeks ago.
Saturday’s Iroquois will be the first of 37 races to offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. It will award the top five finishers points on a 10-5-3-2-1 towards the classic, which will be run on Saturday, May 4, 2024.
This son of Gun Runner was well-liked going into his debut at Saratoga. The Asmussen-trained runner was bet down to 8/5 for that debut and came running right out the gate.
The talented colt sped to the lead and easily coasted down the stretch to an impressive victory. Things will get tougher here, but his talent could prove too much for his competition.
Off his impressive debut, he looks like the most likely winner but will get tested with other speed and the race and stretching out to a mile. As the favorite, I will take a small shot to beat him.
Also, an impressive winner in his career debut, this son of Constitution made his first start going 7-furlongs at Colonial Downs.
Having turned in some nice workouts beforehand, he was sent off at 2/1 odds and after stalking early, he took command and ran away from his opposition. The 6-length win points him out as a talented colt.
Unlike Risk It, however, his win likely came against a suspect group of runners, so this will be a real move up in class. He is clearly a danger, but I like a few others better.
Trained by Brad Cox, this son of Constitution was not nearly as eye-catching while winning his debut as the top two. Still, he got the job done and could be better for the experience.
He also could benefit if the top two go too fast early. He picks up top rider Flavien Prat for his stakes debut on Saturday, which should not hurt his chances.
One of several in the race who could step up, especially if he appreciated the added ground of one mile of the Iroquois.
The other Asmussen runner should not be ignored on Saturday. Like several in here, he was a good-looking winner in his debut, which came on July 1 at Ellis Park.
From there he went to the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and nothing went right. He not only ran into a very talented runner in Rhyme Schemes, but he also suffered a trouble-filled trip.
Given that experience, I would expect him to improve. His breeding also suggests that the added distance will help. He looks like a real threat in the Iroquois.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, this Union Rags colt has made only one career start. It came five weeks ago at Monmouth Park, where he came from just off the pace to win with authority.
The 5 1/4-length maiden score while going 6 furlongs was a promising debut. He easily beat the runner-up, who was well ahead of the rest.
In a race with plenty of early speed, this unbeaten colt looks like one who can rally. It will be a big step up in class, but he may be up to the task. He is the top pick.
In three career starts against maiden company, this son of Arrogate has done a little better in each start.
Third in his debut at Churchill Downs, he came back to finish second behind Edified the next time at Ellis Park. Continuing with his progression, he rallied to win by a length over ten others in a 7-furlong race at Ellis.
Given his ability to pass horses, the Robert Medina-trained runner should not be dismissed as he makes his stakes debut on Saturday.
After a dull debut, this son of Arrogate came to life on wet tracks at Saratoga for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He broke his maiden in his second career start on a sloppy racing surface while on the lead throughout.
Next came the Skidmore Stakes which was taken off the turf and run on a muddy track. A slow start and a troubled trip cost him the win that afternoon, but he was running well down the lane to finish third.
Bred for more ground, he should be well suited for the stretch out in distance and is one to consider with odds on Saturday.
This son of Exaggerator has already run five times and has shown steady improvement since finishing fourth in his career debut at Keeneland back in April.
After running second in his next three starts, the Larry Demeritte-trained grey went wire-to-wire most recently going one mile at Ellis Park.
While the last was a solid win, he is not likely to be out on the lead Saturday as he faces faster competition. I am looking elsewhere in this promising field.
The other Lukas-trained runner also has stakes experience. After winning at first asking at Ellis Park, the Street Sense colt ran in three stakes races at Saratoga.
He showed good speed in both the Sanford and Saratoga Special but weakened down the stretch in both graded sprint stakes.
Last out, he took to the turf and a distance of ground for the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes. He once again showed speed but had no answers when challenged early in the stretch. I like others better here.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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