Heavily favored Astrology was an appropriate winner on Churchill Downs' “Stars of Tomorrow” card on opening day of the Louisville track's fall meet, convincingly taking the $122,300 Iroquois Stakes (gr. II) Oct. 31 (VIDEO) .
Aggressively handled by Garrett Gomez, Astrology turned back Ribo Bobo for a 2 3/4-length win after he put away pacesetter Maybesomaybenot in upper stretch of the one-turn mile event for 2-year-olds. The winning time on a fast main track was 1:38.43.
Bred by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and owned in partnership with George Bolton, the winning 2-year-old son of A.P. Indy--Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American scored his second win in four starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Second choice Maybesomaybenight, ridden by Robby Albarado, broke on top with Astrology on his outside before Conservative Value squeezed his way between those two leaving the chute to force Astrology wide down the backstretch. Maybesomaybenot carved fractions of :23.09 and :46.78 and inched away briefly before Astrology moved up on the outside to challenge on the turn and Conservative Value fell back.
Astrology took over as the field reached six furlongs in 1:11.98. But Maybesomaybenot clung to the leader in upper stretch along the inside as Gomez shook up the the favorite with left-handed urging. Ribo Bobo, with Eduardo Nunez aboard, loomed as the main contender on the outside of Astrology but could not match strides with the winner, who held sway after opening a two-length advantage at the eighth pole.
“(Astrology) slowed down just before I got into him," Gomez said. "I could see he was starting to slow so I had to go; he wants to wait.”
Ribo Bobo was second by 4 1/4 lengths over Maybesomaybenot, who nosed the late-running Halo's Thunder for third.
Astrology was coming off a third-place finish as the favorite in the one-mile Garden State Stakes at Monmouth Park Sept. 25, a race in which he weakened late after pressing the pace on the outside. The bay colt began his career at Saratoga, finishing third in a six-furlong maiden debut July 31 before breaking his maiden impressively at seven furlongs by two lengths Sept. 4. He has been favored in all four of his races.
“He is a beautiful horse; tons of pedigree," Asmussen said. "This is a very important 2-year-old win but he does childish things. It’s his first day here with a new paddock and he was wound up; a lot more excitable than you would like.
"When Robby’s horse (Maybesomaybenot) dropped the bridle (Astrology) found himself in front. He just needs to get to the next step. This will help. I think he’s a little too childish, but he’s got a ton of ability. He is very impressive to train, he’s got a beautiful big stride, but I think he can do better.”
The $73,533 winning purse for the Iroquois pushed Astrology's earnings to $120,533.
Astrology carried 117 pounds and paid $4.60, $3.40, and $2.20 as the 13-10 choice. Florida shipper Ribo Bobo, winner of the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Race Course and Casino in his last start for trainer Manuel Azpurua, returned $5.80 and $3.40 and completed a $26.40 exacta. Sanford Stakes (gr. II) winner Maybesomaybenot, making his debut in blinkers for trainer Mike Maker, was $2.60 to show.
Halo's Thunder was followed by Ronin Dax, War Whoop, Conservative Value, and Storm in the Lake.