Motor City, chugging along at the rail for Calvin Borel, edged past Seven Lively Sins near mid-stretch and held on for a three-quarters of a length victory in the $110,700 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) on opening day of the Churchill Downs fall meet Oct. 30.
Mr. Bowling, the 7-5 favorite in the field of seven 2-year-olds contesting the one-turn mile on Churchill's "Stars of Tomorrow" program, finished a distant third. The final time was 1:37.18 on a fast track.
A Kentucky homebred owned by Lantern Hill Farm, Motor City is a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Street Sense out of the Danzig Connection mare Shawgatny. Ian Wilkes is the winning conditioner.
“He ran like his daddy," Borel said. "We knew he was a good one all along and Ian never gave up on him. We hope to be here next year (for the Kentucky Derby).”
Motor City was coming off an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) on the Polytrack at Keeneland and finished third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) on Arlington Park's Polytrack prior to that. This was the bay gelding's first start on dirt since he broke his maiden at Ellis Park in a 5 1/2-furlong dash Aug. 14.
"The race set up like we wanted," said Wilkes, who will point Motor City to the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Nov. 26. "Sometimes it works out perfect.”
An even break saw Seven Lively Sins, the 9-5 second choice ridden by Julien Leparaoux, get the lead and dictate the pace over Chalybeate Springs and Fine while carving solid fractions of :22.99, :46.28, and 1:11.26. Motor City raced at the back of the pack and tucked in to the rail for Borel after being shuffled back early.
Mr. Bowling went for an early run on the outside for Rajiv Maragh but flattened out rounding the bend as Seven Lively Sins increased his advantage in upper stretch. However, Motor City, advancing steadily along the inside, responded to right-handed urging from Borel to surge past Seven Lively Sins and open a clear lead. Seven Lively Sins came back on under encouragement from Leparoux but ran out of time.
It was 3 3/4 lengths back to Mr. Bowling, the only prior stakes winner in the field, who edged past Fine in the final furlong for the show spot.
“He ran OK for his first time stepping on this racetrack," trainer Larry Jones said of the favorite. "He’ll keep improving and we’ll have a decent one.”
Motor City, sent off as the third choice, improved his career record to 2-1-1 in five starts with earnings of $99,183. He paid $8.20, $3.40, and $2.40 while carrying 118 pounds.
Seven Lively Sins, coming off a front-running maiden victory at Keeneland in his second start Oct. 7 for trainer Al Stall Jr., paid $3 and $2.40 while completing a $24.60 exacta.
Mr. Bowling, trained by Larry Jones, paid $2.20. Brereton C. Jones' homebred son of Istan won Delaware Park's Dover Stakes at one mile and 70 yards by 7 1/4 lengths in his most recent start Oct. 8.
Fine was followed by Chalybeate Springs, Hollywood Script, and Purely Determined.