The 2017-18 Road to the Kentucky Derby series gets underway Saturday with the $150,000 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. A slate of designated races will determine eligibility for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2018 and the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois serves as the first qualifier, offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
Scheduled for 5:20 p.m. (EDT), the Iroquois drew a field of 10 2-year-olds and is one of four stakes on the first Saturday program of the September meet. Its filly counterpart, the $200,000 Pocahontas (G2), kicks off the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, and the Iroquois and Pocahontas are "Win & You're In" qualifiers for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, respectively.
Ten City, who captured the Bashford Manor (G3) on the closing day of the Churchill Downs’ spring/summer meet, rates a top contender. A winner in 2-of-3 starts, the son of Run Away and Hide will try to rebound after experiencing a less-than-favorable trip in his first setback, a third in the August 20 Ellis Park Juvenile. Jack Gilligan rides the Kenny McPeek-trained colt.
Hollywood Star, a smart debut winner at Churchill Downs on June 28, merits serious respect for Dale Romans following a runner-up effort in the August 13 Saratoga Special (G2). Robby Albarado retains the mount aboard the Malibu Moon colt.
Mark Casse will send out a pair of runners, Flameaway and Mo Diddley. Unbeaten from two starts, Flameaway exits a victory in the off-the-turf Skidmore at Saratoga and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Mo Diddley captured his first outing at Churchill Downs and will try to improve upon an unplaced effort in the Saratoga Special with Corey Lanerie taking over the reins.
The Tabulator is unbeaten from a pair of starts for Larry Rivelli, posting a 2 ¼-length decision most recently in the Prairie Gold Juvenile. Jose Valdivia Jr., who has dominated the Arlington Park jockey standings, retains the mount.
Last-out maiden winners Big Gemmy, Pont Du Gard, Smart Remark and Tres Equis are also entered and Ellis Park Juvenile sixth-placer Ebben completes the line-up.
The 1 1/16-mile Pocahontas, which rewards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale, features 12 juvenile fillies including Sunny Skies, winner of the Debutante at Churchill Downs two starts back; unbeaten Ellis Park Debutante vixen Kelly’s Humor; impressive debut scorer Snowfire, who will look to rebound from a fourth as the favorite in the Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga; Take Charge Paula, 2-for-2 following a convincing stakes tally at Delaware Park; and smart debut winners Harbor Lights and Sultry.