In his first stakes start, Albaugh Family Stable homebred Not This Time rallied four wide in the far turn then drew off in the stretch to post an 8 3/4 victory in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) Sept. 17 at Churchill Downs.
Not This Time finished fifth in his June 30 debut sprinting at Churchill Downs but once stretched out to a mile at Ellis Park, the Giant's Causeway colt rolled to a 10-length score in an Aug. 12 maiden race. He delivered a similar effort Saturday in his first try at a full two turns.
With regular rider Robby Albarado aboard, Not This Time easily overcame a hop at the start as he rallied powerfully in the far turn on his way to an easy win in the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win & You're In" race to the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Not This Time entered the far turn in fifth and, despite racing wide, steadily gained on his rivals before rolling through the stretch to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.22 on a muddy track.
Winning trainer Dale Romans, who also won the Iroquois in 2013 with Cleburne, believes he has a special horse in the half brother to last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) winner Liam's Map. Romans said Not This Time has the talent, the looks, and the breeding.
"He's the real deal. He's spooky good and I think he's everything I've always thought he was. He's just so talented," Romans said. "He just sat outside. I usually say to stay inside and eat them if you have to in order to save ground, but when I think I have tons the best, I tell them to keep them in the clear and keep them in a nice, long gallop, and just try to overtake them and that's what he did."
Albarado also has been impressed with the Kentucky-bred out of Miss Macy Sue, a grade III-winning daughter of Trippi.
"Dale gave me confidence to just kind of ride my own race and get him in a nice, cruising stride. He took a little dirt which schooled him a bit today, but he ran well. He's a nice horse," Albarado said. "He's a nice horse, man. He's got a future."
The favored winner returned $5.60, $4, and $2.80 across the board. Lookin At Lee returned $8 and $4 to place and show while Recruiting Ready paid $3 to show.
The winner also earned 10 points on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" point system that will determine the field for next year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill. The Iroquois was the first in a series of 35 prep races on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby," which is now entering its fifth year.
Blame Will led the field through early fractions of :24.30 and :49.57 with Thirstforlife in closest pursuit. On the far turn, Thirstforlife took advantage after six furlongs in 1:11.45 with 3-1 second-choice Recruiting Ready, with Gary Stevens up, in close range, but Not This Time continued to surge on the outside. The winner opened an unassailable lead at the head of the stretch and never was threatened the rest of the way.
Two races after the Iroquois, Normandy Farm homebred Daddys Lil Darling caught front-running Bling On the Music in the stretch then held off a late challenge from Ever So Clever to win the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) by a half-length.
The victory marks the second straight year that trainer Ken McPeek and jockey Corey Lanerie have teamed to win the 1 1/16-mile race for juvenile fillies after winning last year with Dothraki Queen. Daddys Lil Darling, a daughter of Scat Daddy, completed the race in 1:47.19 on a muddy track.
"She is a really good filly and we felt pretty confident coming in. I think as comparing to Dothraki Queen I think she's a little bit of a bigger, stronger filly but she ran super. We'll see what we can do," McPeek said. "I don't think I'll run her in the Alcibiades (gr. I, on Oct. 7 at Keeneland). She's a real lean filly; she doesn't carry much weight. I think we'd be a lot more prudent to wait for the ($2 million) Breeders' Cup."
With the win, Daddys Lil Darling is ensured a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) as the Pocahontas is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race. She also earned 10 points in the system used to determine next year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) field.
"She had a lot of heart. She felt great," Lanerie said. "She's a charm to ride and has a lot of class. I think a little kid could ride her."
Like the Iroquois winner, Daddys Lil Darling is a half sibling to a 2015 Breeders' Cup winner: Turf Sprint (gr. I) victor Mongolian Saturday.