09/04/2013 3:40PM

Churchill Downs: Pocahontas, Iroquois offer Breeders' Cup spots

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Pants On Fire, here winning the Monmouth Cup, returns to Churchill for the first time since finishing ninth in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Maybe it’s the new Win and You’re In designations, or maybe not. Whatever the case, the 2-year-old stakes to be run Saturday night at Churchill Downs elicited the entries of some pretty nice horses.

Eight 2-year-old fillies will try to earn an all-expenses-paid ticket to the Breeders’ Cup when they clash in the Grade 2, $150,000 Pocahontas Stakes, the first of four straight stakes on the Downs After Dark card. Some 35 minutes later, a full lineup of 12 2-year-old colts and geldings will do the same in the Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois Stakes.

Both races carry Win and You’re In designations for the first time after being moved by Churchill racing officials from their traditional spots on opening day of the fall meet to this opening weekend of the new September meet. The new placement allows time for a horse to run back once more before the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. In addition, the distance of the races was lengthened from a one-turn mile to 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

Two other stakes, the Ack Ack and Locust Grove, directly follow the twin 2-year-old stakes on an 11-race program that starts at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Here is a quick rundown of the Saturday stakes:

◗ Grade 2, $150,000 Pocahontas (race 6, post 8:30): Untapable, scratched as one of the favorites from the Aug. 11 Adirondack at Saratoga after a bout with colic, was assigned post 1 as one of two Steve Asmussen-trained fillies in the race. Stonetastic, a 12 1/2-length winner at Monmouth Park of her lone start, was assigned post 8 with Joe Bravo in to ride.

◗ Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois (race 7, 9:05): Rise Up, winner of the Mountaineer Juvenile, and Ride On Curlin, a highly touted Curlin colt with two sharp efforts in as many starts, are among a very well-matched group. Asmussen is represented by a maiden, Tapiture, whose only start resulted in a runner-up finish behind Strong Mandate, eventual winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful.

◗ $100,000 Locust Grove (race 8, 9:39): Flashy American, a three-time winner this year trained by Ken McPeek, will tote high weight of 125 pounds under the allowance conditions of the 1 1/16-mile main-track race, which drew 10 fillies and mares. Wine Princess, adding blinkers, also looks like a major contender. The Locust Grove formerly was a turf handicap contested annually at the spring meet. It was last run in 2010.

◗ Grade 3, $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (race 9, 10:11): Pants On Fire, a 1 3/4-length winner of the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in his last start, returns to Churchill for the first time since finishing ninth as the 8-1 second choice in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The 5-year-old horse will carry high weight of 121 pounds when he faces seven other older horses in this one-turn mile. Brethren, Taptowne, and Moe Man each enter off a win in an ungraded stakes.

The evening card overlaps briefly the with opening-day afternoon card at Kentucky Downs, where three $150,000 stakes will be run. The last of 10 Kentucky Downs races is scheduled for shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern. Cross-track simulcasting will be available to fans at both places.

This will be the first of two Downs After Dark cards at the 12-day September meet; the theme is College Rivalry Night. The second is set for Sept. 28.

Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
I think I'm going to look for horses with experience around two turns in the two year old races. I think the Iroquois is a great betting race because of the big field and vulnerable favorites. I'm sure you'll find a longshot you like