Finding two-turn racing to his liking, Cocked and Loaded used a powerful move in the far turn to open a clear advantage and was not threatened in the stretch in winning the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) Saturday, Sept. 12 at Churchill Downs.
With the victory Richard Ravin and Patricia's Hope's 2-year-old Cocked and Loaded secured the first graded stakes win of his career, completing the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:44.94. In his first try at two turns, the Colonel John colt returned to the form that saw him win the Tremont Stakes in June at Belmont Park.
As a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race, Cocked and Loaded punched his ticket to the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The race also is the first Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, giving the top four finishers points toward making the field for next year's classic.
Sent off at 9-1 after finishing off the board in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) at Arlington Park, Cocked and Loaded rated early under Emmanuel Esquivel while Condominium and Expected Ruler dueled through the first turn. Condominium put his early challenger away through a half-mile in :46.29 but that advantage would not last.
Moving on the outside, Cocked and Loaded quickly took command, opening a clear advantage in the far turn after quicly rallying from seven lengths back. There were no serious challengers in the stretch for two-length winner Cocked and Loaded, who is trained by Larry Rivelli. Rated R Superstar finished second, Unbridled Outlaw third, and favorite Conquest Windycity fourth. Those top four finishers earn points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward next year's Derby.
For Rivelli, the Iroquois is the third graded stakes win of his career and first with a juvenile. It's also his first Churchill Downs graded stakes win.
"I think he's a real special horse," Rivelli said. "He handles everything with stride. Manny [Esquivel] did a great job. I told him to ride him with confidence and let him do what he needs to do. I'm just really proud of the horse. Hopefully we'll dance the big dance [the Breeders' Cup Juvenile] if he's healthy."
Esquivel, who was riding Cocked and Loaded for the first time, said the colt is an easy mover.
"At the half-mile pole I got to the ones in front pretty easily and when I just pushed him a little he took off with me," said Esquivel, who earned his first stakes victory at Churchill Downs one day after winning his first race at the track. "And at that point I didn't want to try to take him back again. I just wanted to keep on going. We felt comfortable turning for home, so he ran huge."
The winner returned $21, $10, and $6 across the board while Rated R Superstar paid $11.40 to place and $5.60 to show. Unbridled Outlaw returned $3.40 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte, Cocked and Loaded is the first foal out of the Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon. The colt was purchased for $16,000 by Blue Checker Thoroughbreds and David Purcell at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale from the Legacy Bloodstock consignment.
Catch the Moon has a Tale of Ekati colt (Hip 152), consigned by Legacy Bloodstock, agent, in this year's Keeneland September yearling sale.