Sunday, October 31, 2010

Iroquois Stakes Racing Roundup

Churchill Downs opens its fall meet of racing today with an 11-race card billed as the “Stars of Tomorrow” which is devoted exclusively to 2-year-old thoroughbreds. Maybesomaybenot, the 5-2 lukewarm morning line favorite, heads a field of eight juveniles that have been entered in the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3).

I’ve always like this son of Sunday Break who got off to a good start early in his career, breaking his maiden by six lengths in his second start at Churchill Downs last July. Maybesomaybenot came back 22 days after that victory to win the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. However, his last two efforts have been dull with a fourth-place finish in the Sapling Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park and an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland.

Despite his recent efforts, I’m willing to give Maybesomaybenot another shot. He has the breeding to be a factor in the Iroquois and trainer Michael Maker adds blinkers for today’s race.

Maybesomaybenot is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990 there have been six horses from that line to win the Iroquois Stakes: Capt. Candyman Can (2008), Court Vision (2007), The Cliff’s Edge (2003), Ide (1995), Peruvian (1994) and Portroe (1991).

Maybesomaybenot’s sire, Sunday Break, won races from 7-furlongs to 8 ½-furlongs and was a pretty good middle-distance runner. His grandsire, Forty Niner, also was a good middle-distance runner and he sired the Iroquois winner Ide. Sunday Break’s 2-year-old runners have six wins from 18 starts for 33 percent.

Astrology is the 3-1 morning line second-choice but I would not be surprised to see him become the favorite. Astrology comes into the race with a third-place finish to a couple of nice juveniles (Sweet Ducky and Curlinello) in the Garden State Stakes at Monmouth.

Astrology is a descendant of the Bold Ruler sire line and since 1990 there have been three horses from that line to win the Iroquois: Thiskyhasnolimit (2009), Champali (2002) and Tarzan’s Blade (1993). A. P. Indy, the sire of Astrology, has two juvenile winners from 17 starts for 12 percent.

A long shot I like in this race is the 10-1 Halo’s Thunder, ridden by Jockey Julien Leparoux – winner of the Iroquois in 2008 and 2007. Trained by Ken McPeek, Halo’s Thunder is stepping up in class but has a lot of room for improvement coming into today’s race off an 8-furlong maiden debut win at Turfway Park earlier this month.

Halo’s Thunder is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and his sire is the Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch. Gulch, the grandsire of Halo’s Thunder, sired the Iroquois winners Court Vision and The Cliff’s Edge. Thunder Gulch’s juvenile runners have 14 wins from 36 starts for 39 percent.

The damsire of Halo’s Thunder is the graded-stakes winner Saint Ballado whose notable offspring include 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Ashado and Florida Derby (G1) winner Captain Bodgit who finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

Storm In The Lake (4-1) comes into the Iroquois with three first-place finishes and one second-place finish in five starts. Storm In The Lake has never run in a route race and he finished off the board in his only stakes race but he has the breeding to be a potential factor in the Iroquois.

Storm In The Lake is a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line and sine 1990 there have been five horses from that line to win the Iroquois: Catcominatcha (2005), Straight Line (2004), Harlan’s Holiday (2001), Exploit (1998) and Keene Dancer (1997).

Storm In The Lake’s grandsire, Storm Cat, sired the Iroquois winner Exploit and he is also the grandsire of the Iroquois winners Harlan’s Holiday and Catcominatcha.

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