In his first stakes start, Albaugh Family Stable homebred Not This Time rallied four wide on the far turn then drew off in the stretch to post an 8 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes on Saturday 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 around 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, which earned him a guaranteed spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
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 winner Liam’s Map. Romans said Not This Time has the talent, the looks and the pedigree.
“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 3-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.”
In his first graded stakes try, previous stakes winner Lookin At Lee finished well to edge Recruiting Ready for second. Recruiting Ready has placed in three straight graded stakes.
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 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.