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Shapiro’s Selections for the Iroquois

By Jennifer Caldwell

My Sixth Sense (c) Ellis Park/Coady Photography

by Scott Shapiro

The Road to the Kentucky Derby gets started on Saturday as the Iroquois (G3) is slated as the 10TH race on a strong 11-race card at legendary Churchill Downs.

The first of 35 scoring events leading up to the big race on the first Saturday in May drew a full field of 12 colts led by 2-1 morning-line favorite Tight Ten (#4). The Winchell Thoroughbreds colt was green, but impressive, in his debut over this racetrack in late August, and then missed by just a length in his first try versus winners in the Saratoga Special (G2). The Steve Asmussen trainee is certainly as talented as anyone in this group, but he still is figuring out the mental part of the game, making him a somewhat risky proposition as the chalk. I will try to beat him.

Asmussen also sends out 6-1-co-second choice Tobacco Road (#6). The son of Quality Road did not factor in the outcome in his debut over this surface, but won two races at Ellis Park this summer, including an off-the-pace victory on August 19 in the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes. It is possible that the L and N Racing colt enjoys the increase in distance, but he is another horse I am willing to let beat me in this 1 1/16-mile event on Saturday afternoon.

Pole Setter (#7) tries the main track for the first time for trainer Brad Cox after two efforts over the lawn to start his career. The Steve Landers Racing colt broke his maiden against a full field of 12 on debut at Ellis Park, but could do no better than a midpack sixth two weeks back in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes. It is encouraging that Cox wheels him back so quickly after the off-the-board finish over the sod, and the September 10 bullet four-furlong work he fired in :48.20 over the track leads me to believe he is ready to fire a big one. He is a wild card option in this year’s Iroquois.

I will use Pole Setter, but I have the most interest in My Sixth Sense (#5). This $225,000 OBS April 2018 purchase broke a bit slowly from the rail at Ellis Park on August 12, but used his early zip to cruise to the front and hold off his main rivals to win at first asking. The son of Street Sense is bred to go two turns, being a half-brother to $370,000 earner Don’t Forget Gil, who racked up four career wins in which three came at a route of ground, and a full brother of multiple Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason. He should adore the stretch out to two turns and at 10-1 is my top choice.

I also give a big look to Manny Wah (#9). The son of 2013 Travers Stakes (G1) and Clark Handicap (G1) winner Will Take Charge has sprinted in all three of his starts for trainer Wayne Catalano, but should be ready for the move to two turns on Saturday. In his lone try against winners last out in the aforementioned Ellis Park Juvenile, he battled on the front end early, put away the other speed and showed some fight to miss by just three-quarters of a length. He should get a great stalking trip under veteran Channing Hill and presents solid value if anywhere near his 8-1 morning-line price.

Hog Creek Hustle (#10) is another horse who could spring the upset. The son of Overanalyze showed a strong turn of foot in his debut victory at Ellis Park on August 18 for trainer Vickie Foley. The fact that Corey Lanerie sticks around to ride is worth noting. My main concern is that win came at five furlongs, so the stretch out to two turns is a lot to ask in his first try versus victors.

Suggested Wagers

$20 Win 5 = $20
$3 Exacta Box 5+7+9 = $18

Total Budget = $38