August 15, 2022

Iroquois kicks off 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby

Steve Asmussen breaks the record for most North American wins with Stellar Tap's maiden romp at Saratoga (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Iroquois S. (G3) — Race 9 (10:11 p.m. ET)

Stellar Tap already secured a special place in the career of trainer Steve Asmussen when providing the Hall of Famer with his record 9,446th victory in North America at Saratoga last month. But Asmussen undoubtedly has even bigger aspirations for the gray Tapit colt, such as winning his first Kentucky Derby (G1) with him next May.

On Saturday night at Churchill Downs, Stellar Tap will look to earn the first points on the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby, and secure an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in November, in the $300,000 Iroquois S. (G3).

Stellar Tap is one of 11 juveniles in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois, and will break from post 6 under Ricardo Santana Jr. The pair teamed up to win the aforementioned seven-furlong Aug. 7 maiden at Saratoga  by a commanding 5 1/4 lengths. Asmussen also saddles Guntown, who broke his maiden by more than four lengths at Ellis Park going a mile.

Major General, who gutted out a debut win at Saratoga over Bourbon Heist going 6 1/2 furlongs, will look to give newly enshrined Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher his first win in the Iroquois, while the Ellis Park Juvenile one-two Roger McQueen and Lucky Boss bring stakes experience to the table.

Strike Hard enters off a solid maiden win at Gulfstream going a one-turn mile, while Magnolia Midnight and Husband Material exit more dominating graduations at Colonial Downs and Delaware Park, respectively.

Trainer Dale Romans, who’s won the last two editions of the Iroquois with Dennis’ Moment and Sittin On Go, saddles recent Ellis graduate Red Knobs, who won an off-the-turf event by more than six lengths. Tough to Tame, who along with Roger McQueen is a multiple winner, rises in class off earlier wins at Arlington and Indiana Grand.