09/05/2013 1:53PM

Churchill Downs: Ride On Curlin brings buzz to Iroquois

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Rise Up won the Mountaineer Juvenile in his last race.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There’s been plenty of drama involving a 2-year-old named Ride On Curlin, and that’s after just two races. The colt was so impressive in two starts that his connections were absolutely besieged with big-money offers, and yet after exhaustive wrangling a deal never was consummated, leaving him still with owner Dan Dougherty and trainer Billy Gowan.

Now comes a third career race, the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes on the Downs After Dark card Saturday night at Churchill Downs, and Ride On Curlin will be looking to add another chapter to his interesting story. The colt is part of a full field seeking a Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November, and Gowan is confident the colt will ably handle the big jump in class and stretchout to 1 1/16 miles.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

“He’s the real deal,” said Gowan. “We had to scratch him from the race in Iowa [the Aug. 10 Prairie Meadows Mile] because he had a shin bothering him a little, but he’s 100 percent now. We’re ready to see how he matches up with some of these good horses.”

Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel is the regular rider of Ride On Curlin, who was assigned post 9 as one of the logical favorites in the 32nd running of the $150,000 Iroquois.

A handful of others give the race real depth, including Rise Up (post 3, Rosie Napravnik), a 4 3/4-length winner of the Mountaineer Juvenile last out for Tom Amoss; Tapiture (post 4, Ricardo Santana Jr.), who exits a key race at Saratoga; Honorable Judge (post 6, Joe Rocco Jr.), owned by the Cash Is King partnership made famous by his sire, Afleet Alex; and the uncoupled Kelly Breen duo of Solemnly Swear (post 7, Joe Bravo) and Jimmy Connors (post 8, Elvis Trujillo), both impressive last-out winners at Monmouth Park.

Tapiture is a maiden, but that won’t keep some fans from backing him with confidence. The chestnut Tapit colt was second in his lone outing, an Aug. 17 maiden race at Saratoga behind Strong Mandate, who wheeled back to win the Grade 1 Hopeful last weekend.

“After watching Strong Mandate win the Hopeful, I went from wondering if we should run in the Iroquois to really hoping we’d get in,” said his trainer, Steve Asmussen.

The Iroquois directly follows its sister race, the Pocahontas, as the seventh of 11 races. Post time for the race is 9:05 p.m. Eastern.