Posse Chases Churchill's Iroquois Stakes

Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Posse, whose performances in stakes company in the spring stamped him as one of the best of this year's crop of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, heads a strong and experienced field of juveniles in Sunday's 21st running of Sunday's $100,000-added Iroquois Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

The son of Silver Deputy, trained by Steve Asmussen, will will carry top weight of 121 pounds while facing a strong field of nine rivals in the one-mile Iroquois, the track's major prep for the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) on Nov. 30. Posse's Iroquois rivals include previous stakes competitors Larry B, Boston Park and Mr. Whitestone.

The race is the featured ninth event on a 10-race card and post time for the day's first race is 12:40 p.m. (EST).

Asmussen hopes that the Iroquois will mark the beginning of a strong fall campaign for Posse, who turned heads in April with a dazzling 13 1/2-length victory in his debut in a 4 1/2-furlong race at Keeneland.

He followed that race with strong efforts in all three of Churchill Downs' Spring Meet stakes events for 2-year-olds. He had a dominating victory in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) a runner-up finish to Lone Star Sky in the Bashford Manor (gr. III) and a close third to the filly Holiday Runner and Zavata in the Three Chimneys Juvenile on Kentucky Derby Day.

The Iroquois will be Posse's first race beyond six furlongs and his first race since a fourth-place finish to Whywhywhy in the Sanford (gr. II) at Saratoga on July 25.

"We ran him opening week at Saratoga and he came back a little sick," Asmussen said. "We gave him some time. He's got plenty of races in him and a lot of seasoning. He's come up to the race really well and we expect another good performance out of him."

Posse has earned $181,915 in his five races and will be ridden in the Iroquois by regular jockey Donnie Meche. He has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia and will carry highweight of 121 pounds.

A horse that was considered to be Posse's main rival in the Iroquois, Robert and Beverly Lewis' Ellis Park Juvenile winner Private Gold, will miss the race with a minor injury. Trainer Patrick Byrne said the son of Seeking the Gold apparently wrenched an ankle in his stall and was withdrawn from consideration for the Iroquois on Friday.

There are a trio of interesting newcomers to stakes competition in the Iroquois. Elmer E. Miller's What A Bad Day, a Carl Nafzger-trainee won his last two races by a combined 13 1/2-lengths. John C. Oxley's Bluegrass Spirit and Kenneth English and Alan Braun's Alke were both impressive maiden winners at Keeneland in their most recent races.

$100,000 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III), 1 mile, 2-year-olds
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
11. Champali Greg, Pat Day, 6-1
22. What A Bad Day, Jon Court, 3-1
33. Repartment, Willie Martinez, 30-1
44. Alke, Robby Albarado, 4-1
55. Bluegrass Spirit, Craig Perret, 12-1
66. Patacon, Calvin Borel, 10-1
77. Posse, Donnie Meche, 5-2
88. Larry B, Rene Douglas ,12-1
99. Boston Park, Shane Sellers, 12-1
10. Mr. Whitestone, Mark Guidry, 15-1

Morning line odds by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia