5 Fast Facts about the Iroquois Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race

  1. The race is named not after the Native American people, but after the first U.S.-bred to win the Epsom Derby and St Leger Stakes in England. The equine Iroquois’s efforts in 1881 – he nearly won the English Triple Crown, finishing second in the 2,000 Guineas – helped cement the growing international reputation of the American thoroughbred.
  2. The Iroquois Stakes began at Churchill Downs in 1982 as a mile race held in late October or early November. It was promoted to grade III status in 1990, and for most of its life it was held within a week of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
  3. When Churchill Downs added a September meet to its calendar in 2013, the Iroquois Stakes was moved to September, and the distance was increased to 1 1/16 miles. The move helped it act as a lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which it no longer clashed with. The last three winners of the race (Not This Time, Cocked and Loaded, and Lucky Player) all started in the BC Juvenile.
  4. If it weren’t for the four points he earned for finishing second in last year’s Iroquois Stakes, Lookin At Lee would not have earned enough points to start in the 2017 Derby, and we’d be talking about a different horse as runner-up to Always Dreaming in the Run for the Roses.
  5. Two horses that won the Iroquois this century – Tiz Wonderful and Harlan’s Holiday – sired graded stakes winners at this year’s Saratoga meet. Tiz Wonderful is the sire of Spinaway Stakes (G1) victor Lady Ivanka, and Harlan’s Holiday sired upset Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) winner Good Samaritan.

(Not This Time photo by Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)