Veteran trainer Robert Holthus hopes to continue a terrific run with 2-year-olds when he saddles major contenders on Saturday at Churchill Downs in each of the day's stakes races for juveniles.
Holthus will send out Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) winner Greater Good in the $100,000-added Iroquois (gr. III) and Ofer Stable LLC's Kota, winner of the Anna M. Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park, in the $100,000-added Pocahontas. Both races will be run at Churchill Downs' one-turn mile distance.
"We've had a good crop of 2-year-olds this year," said Holthus. "We don't have a lot of real expensive 2-year-olds, but they've turned out to be pretty competitive and we've been very lucky so far."
Greater Good, a son of Intitab that has won twice in three starts for owner Lewis Lakin, rallied from far off the pace to win the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Cup Juvenile in his most recent start on Sept. 18. Rather than push Greater Good toward Keeneland's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) off that win, Holthus decided on a less ambitious route.
"He's a horse that really wasn't fully matured," said Holthus. "We talked it over with Mr. Lakin and he said, 'Take as much time as you want and hopefully we'll have a good 3-year-old.'"
If all goes in the Iroquois, Greater Good could run back in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) on Nov. 27 before focusing on campaign for the 3-year-old classics.
Kota, a daughter of Indian Charlie who has a 2-1-2 record in five races. She has not raced since a third-place finish behind Culinary and Runway Model in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III) at Arlington Park on Sept. 19. The latter came out of that race to win the Darley Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland and both fillies ran in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), where Runway Model was a troubled third and Culinary checked in seventh behind Sweet Catomine.
"The Lassie was kind of a funny race," said Holthus. "There wasn't a lot of pace in the race and she was up close, then dropped back and made a run for third. At Ellis (in the Fisher Debutante) she was very impressive. She came from last and circled the field."
Kota's development has been surprising, Holthus said.
"We bought here at Ocala in April for $40-some thousand and normally you don't get horses like this for that kind of money," said Holthus. "But she's been a very sound filly and really turned out well."$100,00-added Iroquois (gr. III), 2-year-olds, 1 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Social Probation (KY), 120, Calvin H. Borel
2. Straight Line (KY), 122, Brice Blanc
3. Can't Trick Jake (KY), 118, Brian J. Hernandez, Jr.
4. Norainonthisparty (KY), 116, Kevin Krigger
5. Greater Good (KY), 122, John McKee
6. Chief Commander (KY), 118, Rafael Bejarano
7. Highgrove (KY) 2 Colt 118 Pat Day
$100,000-added Pocahontas, 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Quiet Optimism (KY), 120, Mark Guidry
2. Burnish (KY), 120, Rafael Bejarano
3. Kota (FL), 122, John McKee
4. Hot Storm (FL), 118, Robby Albarado
5. Ragtime Hope (KY), 122, Larry Melancon
6. Im a Dixie Girl (KY), 122, Eddie M. Martin, Jr.
7. Aspen Tree (KY), 118, Brian Dale Peck
8. Punch Appeal (FL), 122, Pat Day