Unlucky in the first start of his career when he parted ways with his rider, Albaugh Family Stables' Dennis' Moment had no such issues on this trip beneath the Twin Spires. The 2-year-old son of Tiznow was absolutely dominant in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, geared down in the final sixteenth to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Ridden by Irad Ortiz for trainer Dale Romans, the 2-5 heavy favorite covered 1 1/16 miles over Churchill Downs' fast main track in a stakes-record 1:43.58.
The victory earns Dennis' Moment an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November, as well as the first 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“Right here in my hand is the invitation to the Breeders' Cup,” Albaugh said. “They officially delivered it, so that's exciting. His name came from his sire, Tiznow — the “now” — and we went with Dennis' Moment. We're very happy with him now, and they named him after me, which was a surprise. I don't want to get ahead of myself, of course, but getting 10 points toward getting into the Derby, that's a big help. We'll give this horse plenty of time. Dale Romans has been excellent on what's the timing, where do we go. We'll start looking at things next week, once we see how he came out of this race, although he looked like he's perfect after the finish.”
Juggernaut was sharp out of the gate and tugged his way to the lead through the clubhouse turn, streaking away to a 1 1/2-length advantage over Lebda. Ortiz kept Dennis' Moment out in the clear in fourth, while Zyramid was up close on his inside.
After early fractions of :23.35 and :47.31, Dennis' Moment and Lebda both began to inch into Juggernaut's lead. The three drew even briefly on the far turn, but Ortiz simply shook the reins and Dennis' Moment responded by pulling away from his rivals.
Stretching away to lead by as much as five lengths in the lane, Dennis' Moment was geared down in the final sixteenth to make the final winning margin 1 3/4 lengths over late-running Scabbard. Lebda held on to finish third over Letmeno.
“This horse is speaking for himself, I don't have to build him up anymore,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He's just an amazing animal. He goes out there and does it, his ears up, like he's just galloping around out there. The jock was shutting him down with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and he still finished in the time he did. He's something special.
“It's important going into these big races, to be versatile. That's what I was worried about today, I was concerned about him getting in a speed duel, with this being the first time around two turns for all these 2-year-olds. And it worked out perfect, he sat outside a horse that didn't bother him at all, and went three-wide, which is not easy to do on this racetrack and keep on going, and he kicked home good. We'll be going straight to the Breeders' Cup from here.”
Added Ortiz: “He's good, he's a nice horse, he's done everything he's been asked to do, we'll see what's next (Breeders' Cup). He felt great, really great for a 2-year-old. He did everything right. I asked him to run and he was going really well. He had some more, but I saved it for the end. He was going to win going away, so I didn't ask him for any more.”
Bred in Kentucky by Tolo Thoroughbreds, Dennis' Moment is out of the winning Elusive Quality mare Transplendid and commanded $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. Though he lost his rider in his first career start, Dennis' Moment rebounded to a 19 1/4-length triumph in an Ellis Park maiden. The colt has won two of his three career starts to earn $150,000.
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