11/03/2005 12:00AM

Breeders' Futurity quintet worth look


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - According to accepted handicapping wisdom, class is less significant in 2-year-old racing, taking a back seat to speed and figures. You wouldn't know that from handicapping the Iroquois Stakes, however.

The one-mile Iroquois, a $100,000 stakes race that will be run at Churchill on Saturday, has been dominated in recent years by class-proven horses - specifically those exiting the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

Just how much of a key prep has it been? Consider the following. Over the last six runnings, five winners of the Iroquois made their prior start in the Breeders' Futurity. The lone exception was Champali in 2002.

What happened that year? There were no Breeders' Futurity starters in the race.

Just as significant as the win records of these Breeders' Futurity horses, it is important to note that in two years - 2001 and 1999 - these horses swept the race. The three Breeders' Futurity horses entered in the 2001 Iroquois ran first through third, and the four Breeders' Futurity starters in 1999 finished first through fourth.

There are five Breeders' Futurity runners in Saturday's Iroquois - Catcominatcha, Sharp Attack, Laity, High Cotton, and Charley Tango - giving them the opportunity to rule the exotics again.

Of this group, Laity seems the most likely winner. A clear victor over Dawn of War in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs, he has established class. He also performed reasonably well in the Breeders' Futurity, chasing victorious Dawn of War before fading to fifth.

Catcominatcha and Sharp Attack both finished in front of him in that race, but Laity did the dirty work by pressing the eventual winner in the early stages. Sharp Attack and Catcominatcha also benefited from relatively smooth trips in a roughly contested race.

As for the other horses exiting the Breeders' Futurity - High Cotton and Charley Tango - both were unlucky at Keeneland. High Cotton blew the start, costing him valuable position, and Charley Tango simply had a brutal trip, getting ping-ponged into the first turn. The trouble he experienced contributed to his 22 1/4-length defeat.

On the basis of his reasonable Breeders' Futurity performance, Laity is my selection in the Iroquois - with High Cotton and Sharp Attack ranking second and third, respectively.

Against a large field that includes such promising runners as Flanders Fields and Testimony, the prices on these runners should be respectable.

Flanders Fields, a son of A.P. Indy out of the champion mare Flanders, will undoubtedly attract support off a fast maiden victory and superior bloodlines. Testimony should also be among the favorites after earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden victory.

If those two don't interest the public enough, they can also look to Right Place N Time, who won his only race with a 95 Beyer.

Pocahontas sets up for Coolwind

The Pocahontas Stakes, the sister race to the Iroquois, looks like a wide-open race - with Performing Diva, Coolwind, Swept Gold, and French Park among the contenders.

My choice is Coolwind, who has the right stalking style for a race loaded with pace. She should be able to stalk quick fractions and power past in the lane.

Two starts ago, she unleashed a powerful turn move to be third in the Arlington-Washington Lassie before running a nonthreatening fourth in the Alcibiades at Keeneland. In the Alcibiades, she suffered from a wide trip after drawing the 10 hole.

Back in a one-turn race, her kick should be more effective.

Bettors' delight at Churchill

Beyond the interest of Saturday's card being strictly for 2-year-olds, Churchill's Saturday card has to rank as the one of the best in recent memory - simply due to numbers. Of the 11 races, not a single race drew fewer than 11 entries. Thirteen were entered for both the Pocahontas and the Iroquois.

Horseplayers should be offered value, and the track will likely be rewarded with a sharp spike in handle.