Iroquois Stakes 2016: The Start of a Long Journey
Iroquois Stakes 2016: The Start of a Long Journey by Sigi Mendoza– The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile (GI) is just around the corner, and the Iroquois Stakes (GII), to be contested on Sept. 17 over 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs, guarantees a spot in that race. The Iroquois also represents the start of a long journey, the well known Road to the Kentucky Derby (GI), giving 10 points to the winner.
Very good horses like Harlan’s Holiday, The Cliff’s Edge, Tiz Wonderful, Astrology 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 swept both races. Additionally, only one Iroquois winner was able to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, Dansil in 1989.
However, entered this year are colts with the pedigree and ability to beat those statistics: Not This Time, Thirstforlife and Blame Will.
Not This Time, a half sibling to the multiple graded Stakes winner Liam’s Map, broke slow at the start as the favorite in his debut in a six-furlong race at Churchill Downs and was fifth, 10 lengths back to the winner Bitumen. The horse moved to Ellis Park and stretched out to one mile, this time breaking cleanly and wired the field by 10 lengths in a hand ride.
Thirstforlife, a son of the freshman sire Stay Thirsty and half sibling to the multiple graded Stakes Cavorting, debuted in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes over five furlongs with a decent third place. A month later, Thirstforlife broke his maiden in a five-furlong race at Churchill Downs by six lengths, in a convincing style. The Stay Thirsty colt moved to California to run in the Best Pal Stakes (GII), over six and a half furlongs. The race indeed was a big step up in class, because he faced the two best Southern California-based colts at the moment, Klimt and Big League.
Thirstforlife was no match in the race and finished a distant third, but it was an okay performance since Klimt repeated a victory in the Del Mar Futurity (GI). It is important to highlight that Thirstforvictory was the second fastest horse in the last ½ furlong of the Best Pal, which could indicate he would appreciate to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles.
Blame Will is stepping up in class, but has the pedigree to become in a serious runner in the near future. Blame Will, by Blame, is a half sibling to the stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed Cat Burglar. Blame should add the stamina to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles. Blame Will is trained by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, so the probabilities of improvement are latent.
Although Recruiting Ready looks like he does not want to run two-turn races, he has been the heavy favorite every time he runs. The colt by the freshman sire Algorithms would be tough if the pace is moderate.
On paper, the 2016 Iroquois Stakes (GIII) should reproduce a tough runner for the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile to be run Nov. 5 at Santa Anita and make a good start in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, however this group has a hard task to do; overcome the poor Iroquois statistics.
Iroquois Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
1 Lookin At Lee R. Santana 6/1
2 Honor Thy Father C. Lanerie 8/1
3 Skinflint J Castanon 20/1
4 Thirstforlife F. Geroux 7/2
5 Blame Will L. Saez 4/1
6 Just Move On J. Valdivia 10/1
7 Recruiting Ready G. Stevens 3/1
8 Not This Time R. Albarado 4/1