Looking forward to Star in Iroquois, Upset in Pocahontas
By DICK POWELL
Churchill Downs opens its September meet this Saturday and the 11-race card ends with a pair of graded stakes races for two-year-olds of both sexes. With trainers wanting more time than ever between races, you could see the top horses out of these juvenile races going right to the Breeders’ Cup.
Race 10 is the Iroquois Stakes (G3) for two-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The field of 10 is an interesting mix of speed horses, recent maiden breakers and three stakes winners.
TEN CITY (Run Away and Hide) broke his maiden by seven lengths at Keeneland going 4 1/2 furlongs then came back here and won the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) at the end of June going six furlongs when Lasix was added for the first time. He was third as the odds-on favorite in the seven-furlong Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes when he lacked running room and neither of the top two finishers are entered today.
HOLLYWOOD STAR (Malibu Moon) broke his maiden here going six furlongs then went to Saratoga and rallied into a speed bias to get second in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) going 6 1/2 furlongs. Dale Romans shows a flat-bet profit with his last 101 runners trying a route of ground first time out and post 2 with Robby Albarado should help him.
PONT DU GARD (Liaison) broke his maiden at first asking when he sat off a slow pace and won going away in a slow-paced race on the turf at Arlington Park. He has answered the question of whether he can get a distance of ground but this is his dirt debut.
TRES EQUIS (Stay Thirsty) is a cleverly-named juvenile that did nothing in his career debut in a turf sprint at Ellis Park then he made his dirt debut going two turns and won by over six lengths when blinkers were added at Indiana Downs. Hard to gauge who he beat that day but looked good doing it.
EBBEN (Trappe Shot) took two starts to break his maiden then he was up the track in the Ellis Park Juvenile.
SMART REMARK (First Defence) was a sharp winner in his well-bet career debut going two turns on the turf at Indiana Downs and now tries dirt for Victoria Oliver. At least he showed speed and his dam is by top dirt sire DISTORTED HUMOR (Forty Niner).
FLAMEAWAY (Scat Daddy) broke his maiden first time out on the Tapeta at Woodbine then came back at Saratoga and won a $100K stakes race that was taken off the turf and run on a muddy track going 5 1/2 furlongs. He doesn’t look fast enough but his sire was a great dirt horse with wins in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and Florida Derby (G1).
BIG GEMMY (Gemologist) did nothing in his career debut against New York-breds at Saratoga then came back there to break his maiden against the same group going seven furlongs. He ran a BRIS speed rating of 87 which is as good as anybody in here.
THE TABULATOR (Dialed In) was the most expensive of his sire’s two-year-olds sold this year at $460K. He broke his maiden by nine lengths first out on the synthetic track at Arlington Park then went to Prairie Meadows and won a stakes race on the dirt going six furlongs in fast time. He stretches out to two turns with first-time Lasix.
MO DIDDLEY (Uncle Mo) broke his maiden by a head going 4 1/2 furlongs on the dirt here back in May then tired in the Saratoga Special (G2) going 6 1/2 furlongs. The Uncle Mos seem to stretch out well and at least this one has some gate speed, which he will need from post 10.
I would have to give Dale Romans’ Hollywood Star the edge in here. Romans had one of the top two-year-old colts last year and this one looks like he is on the right path after running second on the dirt at Saratoga behind COPPER BULLET (More Than Ready) who got first run at the leaders in a fast-paced race. Robby Albarado rides back and Hollywood Star’s dam is HOLLYWOOD STORY (Wild Rush), a Grade 1 stakes-winning two-year-old filly.
The Pocahontas Stakes (G2) attracted a dozen juvenile fillies at the same distance as the Iroquois. There are four minor stakes winners in the field and the short run to the clubhouse turn will make things interesting for those that drew outside.
LADY FREEDOM (Super Saver) was soundly beaten in her first two career starts at Gulfstream Park then came back there and broke her maiden by a neck at 5 1/2 furlongs. Her sire won the Kentucky Derby (G1) here and broodmare sire Indian Charlie ran third so there is dirt, distance breeding in her.
FIRSTMATE (Midshipman) was an interesting first-out winner at Canterbury Downs going six furlongs against Minnesota-breds when she fell 20 lengths behind and won going away by nine. Joe Sharp wins 19 percent first time going long and draws well with Kendrick Carmouche.
SNOWFIRE (Tapit) cost $500K as a yearling last year and looked good when she broke her maiden here by four lengths going six furlongs. She ran poorly at Saratoga in a Grade 3 stakes race and has trained steadily since then for her two-turn debut. Mark Casse did not have a good Saratoga meet but Churchill is home for his stable and she should improve here.
HARBOR LIGHTS (Shackleford) went gate to wire to break her maiden by three lengths in her well-bet career debut at Ellis Park at 6 1/2 furlongs in good time. She has had three breezes since then and Steve Asmussen wins 17 percent first time going long. Not impossible but she will have to get an uncontested lead to hold on.
PRIMO EXTREMO (Overanalyze) broke her maiden by nine lengths on the dirt at Thistledown then she came back on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs and beat allowance foes. She’s fast and she has some stamina in her pedigree.
VISION OF JUSTICE (Into Mischief) sat just off the pace and pulled away to a convincing victory in her well-bet career debut at Ellis Park going 5 1/2 furlongs. She shows a bullet workout on the dirt here for this and gets Gabe Saez.
TAKE CHARGE PAULA (Take Charge Indy) romped in her well-bet career debut at Monmouth Park then went to Delaware Park and won a stakes race going 5 1/2 furlongs. She’s very fast and Kelly Breen wins 19 percent with his runners going long first time.
SUNNY SKIES (Animal Kingdom) broke her maiden by nine lengths in her career debut at 7 to 10 at Keeneland then added Lasix next out and won the Debutante Stakes here going six furlongs on a sloppy track. She broke poorly in the Ellis Park Debutante but showed a new dimension when she passed horses and rallied for third.
SULTRY (Malibu Moon) did nothing here in her career debut but went to Ellis Park next time out and rallied wide from way back to win going away at 6 1/2 furlongs.
UPSET BREWING (Justin Phillip) broke her maiden by over nine lengths going seven furlongs in fast time at Ellis Park then she was a good second in a stakes race there going seven furlongs as the 13 to 10 favorite from post 11.
PATRONA MARGARITA (Special Rate) broke her maiden first time out here going 4 1/2 furlongs then did nothing on a sloppy track. She shipped to Texas and missed by a neck in a stakes race at Lone Star Park in a wide trip going five furlongs. Bret Calhoun-trained filly just doesn’t seem to be fast enough.
KELLY’S HUMOR (Midnight Lute) broke her maiden going a two-turn mile in an off-the-turf event at Ellis Park when she showed good speed from the start then she came back there in a seven-furlong stakes race and rallied seven wide to get up in time for Brad Cox. She has had two breezes here since then and Shaun Bridgmohan will have to overcome post 12.
In a race loaded with speed, it looks like Buff Bradley’s Upset Brewing can sit the trip and go after the leaders. She has early speed so Corey Lanerie can get good position aboard her but I like how she has rated and finished strong in each of her last three starts. Versatility plus experience adds up to a win for her.