Frank Calabrese’s Casey’s On Call puts his undefeated record on the line Nov. 1 when he faces seven juveniles in the $100,000-added Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
The Iroquois is the second of two juvenile graded stakes on Churchill's "Stars of Tomorrow I" program. One race prior is its sister event, the $100,000-added Pocahontas Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies, which also drew a field of eight. Both are one-mile dirt contests. The Louisville racetrack kicked off its 26-day fall meet Oct. 26.
Last year’s Iroquois was won by WinStar Farm’s Court Vision, who went on to start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) this past May. Lewis Lakin and partners’ Pure Clan won last year’s Pocahontas and eventually took third in the 2008 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Casey’s On Call narrowly won both of his starts since launching his racing career this summer. The son of Gimmeawink broke his maiden by a neck at Arlington Park going five furlongs Aug. 16 and six weeks later stalked the pace, took over in the stretch and held on by a nose in allowance company at Keeneland going seven furlongs. Both wins were on Polytrack and came under E.T. Baird, who will ride once more.
Trained by Wayne Catalano, Casey’s On Call was bred in Florida by Cheryl Curtin. He is out of the Silver Buck mare Silver Tear. The bay colt turned a five furlong work over the Churchill main track Oct. 28, stopping the clock in 1:02.20.
Joseph Rauch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can broke his maiden in eye-catching fashion Aug. 13 at Saratoga, romping to a 7 1/4-length score under Julien Leparoux. The gelded son of Candy Ride returned to action Sept. 19 at Arlington Park and finished sixth in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) while being sent off as the favorite. Despite failing to hit the board Capt. Candyman Can was just two lengths back of the winner. Leparoux, who was aboard Court Vision in last year’s Iroquois, gets the call Nov. 1. Ian Wilkes trains.
Owner Robert LaPenta and trainer Nick Zito, who campaigned 2007 champion 2-year-old War Pass, will send out promising juvenile Brave Victory. The son of Lion Heart finished runner-up in the first two starts of his career this summer at Saratoga, then broke his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths at Belmont Sept. 20. In his first stakes effort, the bay colt never factored while finishing seventh to Vineyard Haven in the Oct. 4 Champagne (gr. I) after being bumped at the start. Kent Desormeaux will ride for the first time.
Zayat Stables’ Star of David and Courtlandt Farms’ Gresham are the only two stakes-placed starters in the Iroquois. Star of David, trained by Steve Asmussen, finished a distant third in the Summer Stakes (Can-III) on the turf at Woodbine Oct. 4. Gresham was a well-beaten third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) on the Turfway Park Polytrack Sept. 27.
In the Pocahontas, Dolphus Morrison and Hal Wiggins figure to have the best chance at victory, as the owner-trainer duo send out a pair of good-looking fillies, Abbott Hall and Rachel Alexandra.
Abbott Hall is the lone stakes winner in the field, earning that distinction with a six-length triumph in the Happy Ticket Stakes on the Louisiana Downs turf Sept. 20. The daughter of El Corredor, who also broke her maiden on the grass at Ellis Park, finished fourth in her most recent start, the Oct. 9 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland. Corey Lanerie will get the mount.
Rachel Alexandra may have a leg up on the competition based on her winning experience over the Churchill dirt. The Medaglia d'Oro filly broke her maiden at second asking in Louisville June 13 and two weeks later missed by only a half-length in the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill. The Kentucky homebred earned a victory in allowance company Oct. 17 at Keeneland when she drew off in the stretch to win by three lengths under Brian Hernandez Jr.
$100,000 Pocahontas (gr. III, Race 9, 4:34 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sara Louise (KY), 117, Robby Albarado
2. Pretty Prolific (KY), 117, Julien R. Leparoux
3. Dr. Zic (KY), 117, Calvin H. Borel
4. Rachel Alexandra (KY), 119, Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
5. Abbott Hall (KY), 121, Corey J. Lanerie
6. Honchis'n Ponchis (KY), 117, Kent J. Desormeaux
7. Petty Things (FL), 119, Larry Melancon
8. Selective (KY), 117, Shaun Bridgmohan
$100,000 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:02 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 1 Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Casey's On Call (FL), 119, E. T. Baird
2. Capt. Candyman Can (KY), 117, Julien R. Leparoux
3. Brave Victory (KY), 117, Kent J. Desormeaux
4. Gresham (KY), 117, Corey J. Lanerie
5. Star of David (KY), 117, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Monty's Best (FL), 117, Robby Albarado
7. Just Like Biscuit (KY), 117, Bonnie Castaneda
8. Chilliness (KY), 117, Jamie Theriot