Opening day at Churchill Downs will showcase the some of the best juvenile racehorses in the country. The Sunday card climaxes with the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at 5:02 ET.
Brendan Walsh is not afraid to try tough spots for ROAD AGENT. The dark bay or brown son of Rock Hard Ten broke his maiden two back before setting the pace in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes. This will be his second try on a dirt track, his only other one being his lone win which came at Hoosier Park. Leandro Goncalves is listed to ride.
AGAVE CAT won first out on the Arlington Park turf before finishing a fading fourth in the Kip Deville Stakes at Remington. It should be noted that the son of Tale of the Cat has yet to race on a fast dirt surface. John Good trains and Robby Albarado will be in the irons.
PATAKY KID debuted third on this track at 42-1. After that he broke his maiden on the synthetic surface at Arlington Park as the favorite. He parlayed that win into a victory in the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Futurity. The son of Rockport Harbor was not disgraced in his next start, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, a race where he was beaten 2 1/2 lengths in fourth. If he likes this track he will do well here for Joel Rosario and Thomas Proctor.
FIVE IRON is a good looking son of Sharp Humor. He easily won his debut against open maiden special weight company at Woodbine before finishing second to Uncaptured in the Swyneford Stakes. The chestnut was fourth in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes over the Woodbine turf after setting the pace. Elvis Trujillo is listed to ride for Bryan Lynch.
Sired by the undefeated Runaway and Hide is HEAVEN’S RUNWAY. The bay colt is a winner of two of his four starts, including a last out stakes win at Presque Isle Downs. Since that effort he has been transferred to the barn of Ron Moquett. The 12% trainer has enlisted Anna Napravnik to ride. Look for her to put this one on or near the lead.
The likely favorite in this race is OVERANALYZE. He won his Saratoga debut as a very prohibitive favorite before before finishing fourth behind the likes of Shanghai Bobby, Fortify and Bern Identity in the Grade 2 Hopeful Stakes. After that, he won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park by 3 1/4 lengths. He can move from on or off the pace, but the presence of Julien Leparoux likely indicates that trainer Todd Pletcher wants him to sit behind horses early in the race.
From the barn of Jay Severs for the suspended Bret Calhoun is STRIKE THE NOTE. It’s tough to tell how good he is because his lone dirt try was over a sloppy track. However, if his turf form transfers to dirt he is likely going to be in with a shot to win. Brian Hernandez is listed to ride.
Undefeated until a horrible trip in the Grey Stakes was UNCAPTURED. The Ontario bred son of Lion Heart won his first four races, three of them stakes events, for trainer trainer Mark Casse. Jockey Patrick Husbands has been left in Canada in favor of Miguel Mena. He hasn’t raced on dirt yet, but the works are strong enough to indicate he likes the stuff. Throw in a great pedigree and bettors shouldn’t worry about it. It will be very interesting to see how Uncaptured performs, because a win will stamp him as one of the top juveniles on this continent.
It’s rare to see a son of Werblin in a race like this one, but TRIPLE CROSS has proved he belongs. In his last race he was third behind Heaven’s Runway. Like that horse, he has changed barns. Joseph Cheeks is the new trainer. The stretch out in distance should work to his advantage. Scott Speith picks up the mount.
POSITIVELY was likely using the Breeders’ Futurity as a prep for this race. The son of Distorted Humor broke his maiden over this track in May before finishing second in the Bashford Manor Stakes. The Futurity was his first race since then, so he should be much tighter this time around. Calvin Borel rides for Patrick Byrne.
I don’t love anything in this race. However, I will be watching it closely as several of the contenders could move to the Kentucky Derby in May.