10/28/2008 11:00PM

Modest beginnings for Iroquois cast


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Iroquois Stakes has been won by some terrific 2-year-olds over the years at Churchill Downs, but if a star-to-be is to emerge from the field of eight entered for the 27th running Saturday, he has been in hiding so far.

Nary a stakes winner is in the Grade 3, $100,000 Iroquois, the co-feature of the first Stars of Tomorrow program of the Churchill fall meet. To date, the most notable accomplishment for any of the eight is an allowance win or stakes placing.

Among those logical contenders are Casey's on Call, an unbeaten winner of two races, including a Keeneland allowance; Capt. Candyman Can, the beaten favorite in the Arlington-Washington Futurity; Brave Victory, a romping maiden winner at Belmont Park two starts back; Gresham, third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile; and Star of David, third in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes on the Woodbine turf.

The Iroquois shares top billing Saturday with its twin, the Pocahontas Stakes, a Grade 3, $100,000 race for 2-year-old fillies. Both races are run as a one-turn mile.

The Pocahontas figures to have Rachel Alexandra, runner-up in the Debutante Stakes here in July, as the favorite over her Hal Wiggins stablemate, Abbott Hall, a minor stakes winner on turf.

Besides the two stakes, the 11-race Saturday card also includes three allowance races and six maiden special-weight races, all for


Predictably, many of the bigger stables will be very active Saturday: Ken McPeek has horses in eight races, Dale Romans in seven, and Steve Asmussen in six.

A second Stars of Tomorrow card is scheduled for Nov. 29, when twin Grade 2 races, the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, will help to close out the fall meet.

Margolis has live ones

These are busy times for trainer Steve Margolis. As he gears up for what he hopes will be a productive fall meet at Churchill, Margolis also is looking ahead to the long winter at the Fair Grounds, where he will campaign for the first time with a 30-horse stable.

And oh yeah, he just got married.

Margolis, who five years ago upset the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita with Cajun Beat, was nowhere near California this time around. He and his longtime girlfriend, Sue Devereux, finally tied the knot on Oct. 17 at a small ceremony in Louisville, then went to visit Margolis's family in Manhattan for a few days afterward.

Two weeks later, Margolis, 45, will be looking for a belated wedding present from Churchill when he sends out the uncoupled Klein family duo of Vote Early and Be Golden in the Friday feature, the $61,000 Dream Supreme Handicap.

"Vote Early, her last race was really positive, and Be Golden likes the track here," said Margolis. "They both have to prove they're ready to run against this caliber, but I think we've got two good shots."

New whips in initial use

The more benign whips that soon are expected to be mandatory at all Kentucky racetracks are being used by all jockeys in the second and third races each day at Churchill, following the lead set by Keeneland, where the whips also were used daily during the second and third races.

The ProCush brand whips are lighter and shorter than standard whips and have foam poppers on the end. They have been put into use partly in response to the public outcry that resulted in the aftermath of the Eight Belles tragedy this spring. The Safety and Welfare committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, in conjunction with The Jockeys' Guild, established standards for the new whips in September.

Kentucky chief steward John Veitch said the commission is "in the process of getting feedback" about the whips and appears likely to make them mandatory in the near future for all Kentucky races. The whips have been in widespread use in steeplechase racing in the last couple of years.

Douglas returning for weekend

Jockey Rene Douglas took off his Churchill mounts Sunday and Wednesday to spend time with his family in Florida after flying there following the Breeders' Cup on Saturday. His agent, Dennis Cooper, said Douglas will be back to ride here three straight days, starting Friday.

"After that we'll probably be back and forth from Calder," said Cooper.

* Apprentice Matthew Straight, a graduate of the North American Riding Academy run by Chris McCarron in Lexington, has moved his tack to Laurel Park in Maryland, effective Wednesday, after starting his career with 18 wins on the Kentucky circuit.

* Trainer Nick Zito told Churchill officials this week that Commentator, one of the notable holdouts from the Breeders' Cup last week, is "a possibility" to run in the Nov. 28 Clark Handicap at Churchill.

"Right now it's what we're looking at," he said.