News and STORIES

“Road to Kentucky Derby” Set to Start on Saturday With Iroquois

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Thursday September 12, 2019
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve” is set to kick off on Saturday. A field of 10 impressive 2-year-olds will be running in the 38th edition of the $200,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. The field will be led by Albaugh Family Stables’ 19 1/4-length maiden Dennis’ Moment. 

The Iroquois will be a 1 1/16-mile event, and it is one of the four stakes races on the first Saturday of the meet. The meet will be 11 days in September, and the Iroquois is the first scoring race on the 2019-20 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” 

The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” is a series of 35 races that will decide who is in the field for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) on Saturday, May 2, 2020. 

There will be a 19-race preparation season, and the Iroquois will award the top four finishers points in the order of 10-4-2-1. These races will be the lead up to the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” that begins in late February. 

The Iroquois is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” event, and the winner will be awarded an automatic berth into the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. 

Dennis’ Moment the Likely Favorite

Dennis’ Moment will most likely be the odds-on favorite in the race. He finished ahead of a field of 12 at Ellis Park on July 27. He now has won three straight five-furlong workouts going into the race on Saturday. His latest time was :58.80 on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs.

“I can only think of one other horse that I’ve trained that has shown this much potential as a 2-year-old and that’s Not This Time (who won the 2016 Iroquois and was second to Classic Empire in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita),” trainer Dale Romans said. “I think we are all looking at a potential future star. Even though this horse is only a maiden winner, the way he was able to just simply dominate the competition that day at Ellis Park left me breathless. I am going to start acting like a football coach and say ‘one race at a time’ with him. Let’s just get it done Saturday and then see where we stand.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. will be the jockey aboard Dennis’ Moment, and they will be breaking from post 8.

The Field

Also in the field for the Iroquois is Scabbard, the runner-up in the Saratoga Special (G2). He is trained by Eddie Kenneally. Scabbard broke his maiden by five lengths on June 28 at Churchill Downs in his debut. He was the runner-up in the $200,000 Saratoga Special, finishing behind Green Light Go. 

Jockey Corey Lanerie, the Churchill Downs leading rider, will be aboard Scabbard as they break from post 3. 

The rest of the field for the race is Zyramid, Letmeno, Rowdy Yates, Automate, Flute Maker, Juggernaut, Lebda, and January Won. 

This year saw an increase from $50,000 to $200,000 for the Iroquois. It will be Race 10 on the 11-race card. 

Saturday will also have the 51st edition of the $200,000 Pocahontas (G2) for 2-year-old fillies. It is a 1/16-mile event which will start the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks.” It is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Juvenile Fillies Division.”

There will also be the $200,000 Locust Grove (G2) and the $125,000 Open Mind on Saturday’s program.