©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The much anticipated journey on the 2014-2015 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” begins Saturday at Churchill Downs with the 33nd running of the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3).
New to the prep schedule, the $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) which will be run on December 20 has been added to the list of qualifying races increasing the total to 35. Kentucky Derby eligibility is determined by the points earned by the top four finishers in the races on the Derby Trail. Only 20 horses are allowed in the Derby starting gate and the horses with the most accumulated points at the end of the prep schedule will qualify to run in the Derby.
A field of nine young Thorougbreds has been entered in the Iroquois with Mr. Z, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and owned by Zayat Stables, LLC, heading the field as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
In his maiden debut, Mr. Z showed early brilliance winning a 6-furlong sprint race by a half-length at Churchill Downs. Since then he’s finished second, twice, in the Sanford Stakes (G3) and Saratoga Special Stakes (G2), both at Saratoga Race Course.
The Iroquois is his first stretch out to 8½ furlongs, but Mr. Z has some nice influences in his pedigree and he should be able to handle the increased distance.
A recent bullet work out at Churchill Downs on September 1 could have Mr. Z ready to run a good race and I look for him to be competitive.
Hashtag Bourbon appears to be an improving young colt. He finished third in his maiden debut on June 28, losing to Mr. Z by 3¼-lengths. On August 2, Hashtag Bourbon showed much improvement in just his second race, winning the Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes by 4½-lengths.
Kellyn Gorder, the trainer of Hashtag Bourbon, has been pointing the young son of Super Saver to the Iroquois Stakes (G3) for his graded stakes debut.
“The Iroquois has been the plan from Day One,” said Gorder in a Churchill Downs press release. “We like the fact that we don’t have to ship and we thought this would shape up to be a perfect spot for him.”
Another move forward off of his win in the Mountaineer Juvenile could make Hashtag Bourbon very competitive in the Iroquois Stakes.
Bold Conquest is trained by Steve Asmussen who also has Lucky Player (5-1) entered in the Iroquois. Bold Conquest finished second in his maiden debut in July at Saratoga. He followed up that performance with a narrow win by a head in a 6½-furlong sprint, also at Saratoga.
Bold Conquest is moving up in class and this is his first stretch out to a route race. However, he also has some nice pedigree influences and he should be able to handle the added distance. He also picks up the services of jockey Joel Rosario who rode him in his maiden debut.
Another move forward off of his debut win should make him competitive in the Iroquois Stakes (G3).
A lukewarm long shot I like in this race is Danny Boy (5-1) who comes into the Iroquois off of a three-length maiden win at Ellis Park on August 1. In that race, he covered a mile on the turf in a time of 1:36 and that is the kind of time that I like to see in a young colt that is on the Derby Trail.
Danny Boy is stepping up in class and distance but his pedigree indicates that he should be able to handle those challenges.
If Danny Boy improves off of his maiden win, he could be competitive at a nice price.