The most publicized horse on the backstretch of Churchill Downs over the last two months was striking maiden winner Dennis' Moment. On Saturday, the 2-year-old colt will see if he can live up to the hype as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the $200,000 Iroquois (Grade III).
“It's exciting to be right in this horse's backyard for the Iroquois,” owner Dennis Albaugh said. “It's a big deal to pick up points this early for the Kentucky Derby. That will make things next year a little easier. This horse just amazes me how easy he strides. You look at other horses on the track and then see him, and his stride is just so perfect. He seems to get better every work leading into the race.
“I remember calling (trainer) Dale (Romans) a couple days after the race to make sure how he came out of the race and Dale told me 'he was perfect.' I just hope he can now live up to the hype because he could be very special.”
Dennis' Moment was purchased in the 2018 Fasig Tipton August sale for $400,000 following several pre-sale inspections from his team of bloodline experts, Romans and Albaugh's son-in-law Jason Loutsch.
“When we did all of the pre-work for the sale, we noticed this Tiznow colt that matched all of the factors we go over in horse's pedigrees,” Albaugh said. “All the boxes were checked prior to the sale. We were at Saratoga during the sale but we were actually sitting on the plane getting ready to leave when the horse was going through the ring. We were on the phone with the auctioneers just before we takeoff and luckily we were able to get him.”
The 1 1/16-mile Iroquois, one of four stakes events on the first Saturday of the 11-day September Meet, is the first scoring race on the 2019-20 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” – the series of 35 races that will ultimately determine the field for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Points awarded to the Top 4 Iroquois finishers will be 10-4-2-1 as part of the 19-race “Prep Season” that showcases foundation-building races in advance of the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series,” which begins in late February.
The Iroquois also is part of the Breeders' Cup “Win & You're In” program with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (GI) on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
The complete Iroquois field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Zyramid (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 10-1); Letmeno (Calvin Borel, Ian Wilkes, 10-1); Scabbard (Corey Lanerie, Eddie Kenneally, 5-1); Rowdy Yates (Baze, Asmussen, 7-2); Automate (Florent Geroux, Keith Desormeaux, 30-1); Flute Maker (Jose Ortiz, McPeek, 8-1); Juggernaut (James Graham, Desormeaux, 10-1); Dennis' Moment (Irad Ortiz Jr., Romans, 9-5); Lebda (Trevor McCarthy, Claudio Gonzalez, 10-1); and January Won (Hernandez, McPeek, 15-1).
The Iroquois, which received a $50,000 boost this year to $200,000, is carded as Race 10 at 5:26 p.m. (all times Eastern) on an 11-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m.
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