11/03/2005 1:00AM

Iroquois card has its focus on the future


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Stars of Tomorrow? What's wrong with today?

Indeed, Saturday would be a very good day for a 2-year-old to take a huge step forward at Churchill Downs, where the first "Stars of Tomorrow" program is being held. The high point of the 11-race card - which consists entirely of 2-year-old races - is the $100,000 Iroquois Stakes, a Grade 3 race that drew an exceptionally deep field of 13.

, a sharp maiden winner in September at Belmont Park, will be ridden by Jerry Bailey when he breaks from the far outside post in the one-mile Iroquois. Flanders Fields is by a champion out of a champion - A.P. Indy and Flanders - and combined with his good-looking maiden triumph, he is on virtually everyone's shortlist of horses who could emerge within the next few weeks as top classic contenders for next spring.

"We've always thought a lot of him," said Dallas Stewart, who trains Flanders Fields, an Overbrook Farm homebred.

Besides Flanders Fields, the Iroquois drew such promising colts as (post 8) and Red Raymond (post 6), the second- and third-place finishers in the Arlington-Washington Futurity; Laity (post 9), the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Futurity; and Testimony (post 10), who, like Flanders Fields, exits a smashing maiden victory at Belmont.

The rest of the Iroquois field is Mr. Pinstripe, High Cotton, Mondavi, Sharp Attack, Grand Survival, and Brassie Prince.

The Oct. 8 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland clearly is a key race in handicapping the Iroquois. While Dawn of War led wire to wire at a huge price, with Catcominatcha chasing him home, the others struggled badly behind him, blotching their previous good form. Those colts looking to fare better Saturday are Sharp Attack, Laity, High Cotton, and Charley Tango.

If entries mean anything, the "Stars of Tomorrow" concept proved extremely popular with horsemen, as an eye-popping 159 horses, including also-eligibles, are on the Saturday overnight sheet. The co-featured Pocahontas Stakes (race 8), the filly counterpart to the Iroquois (race 10), also drew a field of 13.

The Iroquois is the traditional prep for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, which is set for Nov. 26, closing day of the Churchill fall meet.