The hype surrounding Dennis’ Moment proved real in Saturday’s $200,000 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs as the 2-5 favorite seized control in upper stretch and strolled in the final sixteenth under Irad Ortiz Jr. to win by 1 3/4 lengths in the opening race of the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
The Iroquois was also a Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1, which Dennis’ Moment will now target in the hopes of earning the two-year-old male championship for Albaugh Family Stable and trainer Dale Romans.
“We’ll be going straight to the Breeders’ Cup from here,” Romans said.
Fourth through the opening half-mile, Dennis’ Moment made a three-wide move on the far turn outside pace-setter Juggernaught and Lebda. Poking his head in front passing the quarter pole, Dennis’ Moment was up roughly four lengths at the sixteenth-pole when Ortiz geared him down late. He paid $2.80 after completing 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.58. Scabbard, the 8-1 third choice closed the margin late while Lebda won a photo for third over Letmeno while 5 1/4 lengths behind Scabbard.
“This horse is speaking for himself, I don’t have to build him up anymore. He’s just an amazing animal,” Romans said. “He goes out there and does it, his ears up, like he’s just galloping around out there. The jock was shutting him down with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and he still finished in the time he did. He’s something special.
“It’s important going into these big races, to be versatile. That’s what I was worried about today, I was concerned about him getting in a speed duel, with this being the first time around two turns for all these two-year-olds. And it worked out perfect, he sat outside a horse that didn’t bother him at all, and went three-wide, which is not easy to do on this racetrack and keep on going, and he kicked home good.”
Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 were earned by the top four finishers, with Dennis’ Moment now the early leader in the series. The next point-scoring Derby prep is the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita on September 27.
This was the second win in three starts for Dennis’ Moment, who clipped heels and lost jockey Robby Albarado soon after the start of his June 23 debut at Churchill Downs. His mulligan, on July 27 at Ellis Park, turned out to be a ferocious performance as the bay came home 19 1/4 lengths in front in a gate-to-wire procession. He’s now earned $147,800.
Bred in Kentucky by Tolo Thoroughbreds, Dennis’ Moment was a $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga purchase. He’s by Tiznow and out of Transplendid, an Elusive Quality half-sister to Miss Preakness (G3) winner Time’s Mistress.