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Pocahontas and Iroquois: Prep Races for Bigger Tasks

Pocahontas and Iroquois: Prep Races for Bigger Tasks–  The Roads to the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks have officially begun! The Pocahontas and the Iroquois were run at Churchill Downs on September 12, 2015, as the first offerings of points needed to be able to compete in the historic races. One colt and one filly obtained ten points for the races and are now on their ways toward possible starts in the biggest races of their three-year-old careers, but they have also guaranteed themselves a spot in the Breeders’ Cup.

Dothraki Queen

Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen was last with three furlongs to run in Saturday’s 47th running of the $200,000 Pocahontas (Grade II) at Churchill Downs, but the 2-year-old filly rallied through a narrow opening along the inside rail, grabbed the lead with three-sixteenth of a mile to the finish and turned back a late charge from New Jersey invader Bold Quality to win the 1 1/16-mile event by a half-length.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

The Pocahontas Stakes is a Grade II event run annually since 1969. Since then, the race has been moved from Thanksgiving to earlier in the fall. With this move, the Pocahontas has become a prime preparation race for the more prestigious Golden Rod Stakes. The Pocahontas Stakes is contested around two turns over 1-1/16 miles on the dirt track.

History shows that while the Pocahontas is a graded stakes race and serves as a springboard toward a decent three-year-old season, it is not a premium prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies nor the Kentucky Oaks in May of the three-year-old season. Only one horse has ever completed the Pocahontas-Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies double, and that horse was Epitome in 1987. The double helped Epitome secure the Eclipse Award for Champion Two-Year-Old Filly.

As a Kentucky Oaks prep, the Pocahontas has helped few make it to the Kentucky Oaks, let alone win the race. Only two have done so. In 1976, a filly named Sweet Alliance won the Pocahontas before also winning the 1977 Kentucky Oaks as a three-year-old. The filly was by the iconic Sir Ivor and out of a Tom Fool mare. She also won the La Trioenne Stakes just a week before the Kentucky Oaks! The only other filly to complete this double was Untapable, the 2014 Eclipse Award Champion Three-Year-Old Filly. In 2013, Untapable defeated a field that consisted of future graded stakes winners Stonetastic and Rosiland. After the Pocahontas, Untapable finished a terrible eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind She’s a Tiger and Ria Antonia, who was eventually put up via the disqualification of She’s a Tiger. Untapable would regroup and have a very dominant three-year-old season where she defeated a top field of fillies in the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. She concluded her season with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

This year, a filly by the name of Dothraki Queen finished first in the Pocahontas. She is a daughter of Pure Prize and is out of the Saint Ballado mare Sharaiji Blossom. While Pure Prize was not a phenomenal horse, he was bred to be successful on and off the racetrack. The son of Storm Cat and a Seeking the Gold mare, he has proven to be a quality stallion, and he now has over 120 stakes winners worldwide. He stands at WinStar Farm. As for Saint Ballado, he sired many types of horses, including Saint Liam, Ashado, and Captain Bodgit. His offspring are not seemingly distance-challenged with the right breeding. As for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for the Kenny McPeek trainee: “If she’s doing well, she’ll run,” McPeek said.

For the boys, there is less history and more to overcome. The Iroquois has been a good race to springboard horses to good careers. Horses such as Harlan’s Holiday, The Cliff’s Edge, Tiz Wonderful, and Court Vision have all won the Iroquois Stakes. However, since both the Iroquois and Breeders’ Cup began in 1984, there has not been a horse who has swept both races. The Iroquois has actually proven to be counterproductive toward a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. As for the Kentucky Derby, horses to have won the Iroquois have also been challenged to even make it in the Kentucky Derby, let alone win the race. The Kentucky Derby has yet to see a horse that has won the Iroquois Stakes in its winner’s circle.

The 2015 Iroquois Stakes winner is Cocked and Loaded, a son of Colonel John. The colt definitely came into the race ready to fire. For some reason, in his last two races, he didn’t lift a hoof, finishing sixth in the Sanford Stakes and fifth in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. The colt broke his maiden at Keeneland in April before moving on to win the Sanford Stakes at Belmont. Finally getting his first try around two turns, Cocked and Loaded burst onto the scene as the real deal. The colt is bred to be able to handle the longer distances he will be facing as he continues on the Kentucky Derby trail. He is likely to be trained into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile according to trainer Larry Rivelli.

Cocked and Loaded, who was coming off back-to-back losses in stakes races in New York and Chicago, is now the points leader on the 2016 "Road to the Kentucky Derby" following a strong return-to-form two-length victory under jockey Emmanuel Esquivel in the 34th running of the $150,000 Iroquois Presented by U.S. Bank (Grade III) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Cocked and Loaded, who was coming off back-to-back losses in stakes races in New York and Chicago, is now the points leader on the 2016 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” following a strong return-to-form two-length victory under jockey Emmanuel Esquivel in the 34th running of the $150,000 Iroquois Presented by U.S. Bank (Grade III) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Cocked and Loaded is by Colonel John, the winner of the 2008 Travers Stakes. As far as being a successful stallion, he has sired horses such as Southern Honey, Colonel Joan, and Concave. However, the stallion has yet to sire a horse that puts his name on a national stage. Cocked and Loaded is out of an unraced Malibu Moon mare named Catch the Moon. The colt is bred to handle up to nine furlongs at best. As he advances towards the Kentucky Derby, he may encounter problems stretching out. His running style, however, may aid the colt as he is able to rate well behind speed.

The Pocahontas and the Iroquois both serve as “Win and You’re In” races to their respective Breeders’ Cup races: The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. With history stacked against the winners of these races regarding the Breeders’ Cup, these youngsters will have to overcome not only that but other winners of stakes winners aiming for the Breeders’ Cup. The races are run over 1-1/16 miles, and these two challenge winners appear to be distance-challenged.

The Breeders’ Cup is to be run at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 30 and 31. Both of the juvenile races will take place on October 31 over the Keeneland main track. Each race is worth $2,000,000, and the Breeders’ Cup races are worth 20 trail points to the winner with 8, 4, and 2 points being awarded to the following three horses.

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