Road to Derby Kicks off With Iroquois at Churchill Downs

The $200,000 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs is the first race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo credit: Churchill Downs, Inc. )

The official Road to the Kentucky Derby starts on Saturday with a field of 10 juveniles going 1 1/16 miles in the $200,000 Iroquois (G3).

The race is the first of 35 Road to the Kentucky Derby points races and also is a “Win and You’re in” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

None in the field have been a route of ground and only one is a stakes winner—Rowdy Yates (7-2) the winner of the Ellis Park Juvenile on Aug. 18.

All eyes will be on the Dale Romans trained Dennis’ Moment, who broke his maiden at Ellis Park going seven furlongs by 19 ¼ lengths and earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. Irad Ortiz Jr. is in to ride the son of Tiznow, who is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

Romans won the race in 2016 with Not This Time and in 2013 with Cleburne.

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“I can only think of one other horse that I’ve trained that has shown this much potential as a 2-year-old and that’s Not This Time,” Romans said. “I think we are all looking at a potential future star. Even though this horse is only a maiden winner, the way he was able to just simply dominate the competition that day at Ellis Park left me breathless.”

A colt at a decent price to watch is the Ian Wilkes trained Letmeno (10-1) who was second in the Ellis Park Juvenile in his second career start.

Also on Saturday’s card is the $200,000 Pocahontas (G2) for two-year-old fillies, a 1 1/16-mile race that kicks off the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” and is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

The supporting stakes on the card are the 36th running of the $200,000 Locust Grove (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles and the 11th running of the $125,000 Open Mind for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs Race 10 The Iroquois (G3) Post time 5:26 ET

2 Letmeno   10-1

8 Dennis’ Moment   9-5

7 Juggernaut   10-1

6 Flute Maker   8-1



The Ian Wilkes trainee appears capable of pulling off the upset in this spot. The colt broke his maiden in his debut going six furlongs at Ellis Park for a barn not known to have them fully cranked first time out. The colt was dismissed at 20-1, broke a beat slow and made a good late rally to earn his diploma. Next out he went seven furlongs in the Ellis Park Juvenile where he tracked the early pace while saving ground, angled out at the 5/16’s and was shuffled back, came with a bid but flattened out late. The fourth-place finisher in the race was Jersey Town Angel who returned to beat Alw-2L foes at Belterra Park and the sixth-place finisher Two Last Worlds came back to win the state bred Hillsdale at Indiana Grand in his next outing on Wednesday. Our top pick is bred to handle the extra ground. He is by Twirling Candy out of the stakes winner Wicked Mizz ($110,500) who won at a route.

Dennis’ Moment

This colt had a tough debut, clipping heels and dumping his jock in a race where he was sent off at 5-2 in a field of seen at Churchill Downs. He came back at Ellis Park at 4-5 and grabbed the led and drew off to win by 19 ¼ lengths and earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. The Romans trainee has been popping bullet works in the morning here as he makes his stakes debut and two turn debut. He was a $400,000 purchase and bred to go long, by Tiznow out of an Elusive Quality mare, her first foal to race. Romans is 21% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners form sprint to route. This guy looks tough and the 9-5 morning line looks fair enough, but he seems more likely to go off shorter.


The Keith Desormeaux trainee took the field gate to wire to break his maiden at Ellis Park going 5 ½ furlongs, drawing clear to win by 6 ¼ lengths. The third-place finisher Something Super came back to graduate in his next start at Ellis Park on Aug. 30. The colt has put in several sharp works over the main track here for his stakes debut. He is by Goldencents out of a Stormy Atlantic mare, her first foal to race. The colt will be in the mix early and likely is going to be a decent price in this spot.


WIN: Letmeno to win at 6-1 or better.

EXACTA: 2,8 / 2,6,7,8

TRIFECTA: 2,8 / 2,6,7,8 / 2,3,6,7,8

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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