Favored The Cliff's Edge took the lead at the top of the stretch under jockey Shane Sellers and steadily drew away for an easy victory in Sunday's $113,700 Iroquois (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Nick Zito for owner Robert V. La Penta, the dark bay son of Gulch covered the one-turn mile in 1:35 2/5, while defeating Korbyn Gold by 7 3/4 lengths. Grand Score, also 2-1 in the wagering, was third, one-half length behind Korbyn Gold.
Sellers saved ground in mid-pack as 33-1 War Image established the pace with fractions of :22 2/5, :45 and 1:10. Blushing Indian, placed just outside of the pacesetter by jockey Craig Perret, took the lead briefly coming out of the turn, but was quickly passed by The Cliff's Edge, who edged three-wide to challenge for the lead.
The Cliff's Edge continued to increase his advantage through the lane as Korbyn Gold, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, came on for second a furlong from home while offering just enough to hold off Grand Score and Pat Day.
The Cliff's Edge, a $200,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase bred by Stonerside Stable, atoned for a sixth-place showing in the Lane's End Futurity (gr. II) at Keeneland a month ago. Before that, he was a close third (moved to second on a disqualification) in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Sept. 13. Overall, he has two wins in four starts and earnings of $117,494 with Sunday's $70,494 winning share.
"He's just a talented colt and definitely in the two-year-old picture and hopefully next year will get in the three-year-old picture," said Zito. "We thought that he was one of our better two-year-olds. I really thought that he should have been second in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity. He got him in the clear today. He's a big horse and a horse with a future. If everything looks okay, the Kentucky Jockey Club, (1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29) looks like a good spot for him."
The Cliff's Edge paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.80. Korbyn Gold returned $6.20 and $3.60. Grand Score's show was $2.80.
Pro Prado was fourth, followed by Blushing Indian, War Image, Mutachi, Five Card Monty and Affirmlode, who stopped after being distanced.