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    Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Lucky Player became the first official horse clearly on the road to the Kentucky Derby when he won Saturday’s $115,500 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/16 mile route on the dirt was the first in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system, which replaced the graded stakes earnings system as the determiner of Kentucky Derby entrants. He earned 10 points for the victory and is the first on the leaderboard. The Iroquois was also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, which earned Lucky Player a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), plus a $10,000 travel stipend, to be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Cal.

    Lucky Player, off at odds just over 11-1 and under the guidance of jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., sat just behind favorite Mr. Z through a moderate pace. As the field approached the final turn, Mr. Z began to tire and Lucky Player kept in front of the field. Stablemate Bold Conquest took the turn five wide and shortly got a head in front of Lucky Player, brushing with him briefly down the lane. Lucky Player fought him off, winning by a neck. Hashtag Bourbon was another 1 ½-lengths back in third, after a troubled trip kept him blocked through much of the race. Danny Boy finished fourth, 1 ¾-lengths behind.

    “Lucky Player was lying extremely well, he was in a perfect spot,” Asmussen said. “Ricardo gave him a great trip. I think he benefitted a lot from his two-turn race that he had previously [in the Prairie Juvenile Mile at Iowa’s Prairie Meadows], and then Bold Conquest – I think he was a little wide early, [and there was] not a lot of pace, but he still continued well.

    “I thought they both looked well, they looked good under the wire, they maintained the margin and I think both horses will get better with experience.”


    Jessie Oswald's picture

    About Jessie Oswald

    I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as a paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!

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