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Stars align for Astrology in Iroquois
Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's ASTROLOGY (A.P. Indy) was hammered into 6-5 favoritism in Sunday's $122,300 Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill Downs, but his odds reflected much more than hunch players taking a flyer on the opening "Stars of Tomorrow" program. Rather, the well-bred colt from the Steve Asmussen barn had strong credentials to recommend him. Formerly in the mix for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) before being rerouted to this more conservative spot, Astrology duly lived up to his billing with a 2 3/4-length score.
Astrology broke alertly for Garrett Gomez and chased the pace set by Sanford S. (G2) winner Maybesomaybenot (Sunday Break [Jpn]), who rattled off fractions of :23 and :46 3/5 in his first-time blinkers. Swinging for home, Astrology took over through six furlongs in 1:11 4/5, and he gradually drew off to complete one mile on the fast track in 1:38 2/5.
"He (leader Maybesomaybenot) slowed down just before I got into him," Gomez said. "I could see he was starting to slow, so I had to go -- he wants to wait."
"Garrett said he carries you beautiful," Asmussen said, "then when Robby's horse (Maybesomaybenot, ridden by Robby Albarado) dropped the bridle, he found himself in front."
Astrology returned $4.60, $3.40 and $2.20 while starting the $26.40 exacta, $67.40 trifecta and $343.20 superfecta (4-6-2-8). Ribo Bobo (Louis Quatorze) rallied to finish a clear second by 4 1/4 lengths, paying $5.80 and $3.40 at 7-1.
"He ran a little green in the stretch," jockey Eduardo Nunez said of Ribo Bobo. "I thought I had them at the quarter-pole, but he kind of ran in and out in the stretch. But he ran good."
Maybesomaybenot, who salvaged third by a nose from the flying Halo's Thunder (Thunder Gulch), yielded $2.60 as the 9-5 second choice. Halo's Thunder, a 13-1 chance off his debut maiden win, crossed the wire 7 1/2 lengths ahead of Ronin Dax (Tapit). Rounding out the strung-out field were War Whoop (War Front), Conservative Value (Value Plus) and Storm in the Lake (Stormin Fever).
Astrology has been favored in each of his four starts. After finishing third in his debut at Saratoga on July 31, the bay broke through next time out at the Spa on September 4. The form of that maiden win was boosted when runner-up To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) came back to romp by 8 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park, and he is expected to contest Saturday's Nashua S. (G2) at Aqueduct.
Astrology was himself pitched straight into stakes company in the September 25 Garden State S. at Monmouth, but he wasn't able to keep progressing and wound up third, beaten a grand total of 4 1/4 lengths by the well-regarded Sweet Ducky (Pulpit). Having racked up his first stakes victory in the Iroquois, Astrology sports a mark of 4-2-0-2 with $120,553 in earnings.
"He is a beautiful horse -- tons of pedigree," Asmussen said. "This is a very important two-year-old win, but he does childish things. It's his first day here (at Churchill) with a new paddock and he was a wound up, a lot more excitable than you would like.
"He just needs to get to the next step. This will help. I think he's a little too childish, but he's got a ton of ability. He is very impressive to train, he's got a beautiful big stride, but I think he can do better."
Bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings in Kentucky, Astrology RNA'd for $285,000 at Keeneland last September. He now ranks as the fourth juvenile stakes winner produced by the winning Quiet American mare Quiet Eclipse. His accomplished half-siblings -- all trained by Asmussen -- are Lunarpal (Successful Appeal), hero of the 2004 Bashford Manor S. (G3), Kentucky S. (G3) and Juvenile S. at Churchill, as well as Lunargal (Successful Appeal) and Lunarlady (Yes It's True). This is also the family of Grade 1-placed stakes queen Snowberg (Seattle Sleet), the dam of recent Swingtime S. victress and Royal Heroine Mile S. (G2) runner-up Burg Berg (Johannesburg).