Albaugh Family Stable’s homebred Not This Time, a half-brother to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map, is the early points leader on the 2017 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” following a jaw-dropping 8 ¾-length demolition job under jockey Robby Albarado in the 35th running of the $150,000 Iroquois Presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Not This Time was compromised at the start when he hopped in the air but recovered nicely while rating in mid-pack from the outside down the backstretch. With his long, reaching stride Not This Time swung four-wide on the turn for home, caught the leaders at the head of the stretch and drew away under a hand ride with overwhelming authority to the finish and paid $5.60, $4 and $2.80 as the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight juveniles.
“He’s a nice horse, man,” Albarado said. “He’s got a future.”
The winner covered 1 1/16 miles over a muddy track in 1:45.22 and earned 10 points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point system that will determine the field for next year’s 143rd running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on May 6, 2017 at Churchill Downs. 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.
The Iroquois also is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Juvenile Division” Challenge and the win by Not This Time earned the Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. Not This Time also earned a travel allowance for the Kentucky-based colt’s trip to California and his entry fees will be paid by Breeders’ Cup.
Owned by Dennis Albaugh of Iowa and trained by Dale Romans, Not This Time won for the second time in three races and the $90,210 first prize lifted his earnings to $114,183. Not This Time launched his career in June at Churchill Downs with a fifth-place finish as the favorite in a six-furlong maiden race, but returned to romp by 10 lengths on Aug. 12 at Ellis Park when stretching out to one mile.
“He’s the real deal,” Romans said. “He’s spooky good and I think he’s everything I’ve always thought he was. He’s just so talented. That (slow break) wasn’t going to get him beat.”
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 was commencing his winning move. The winner opened an unassailable lead at the head of the stretch and never was threatened the rest of the way. Lookin At Lee, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., rallied to ‘win’ the separate race for second by a head over Recruiting Ready, who was a length clear of Honor Thy Father in fourth.
Completing the order of finish were Thirstforlife, Just Move On, Blame Will and Skinflint.
DALE ROMANS, trainer of NOT THIS TIME (winner): “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. That (slow break) wasn’t going to get him beat. Robby (Albarado) rode him well. 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.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey of NOT THIS TIME (winner): “He hopped at the gate. 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. In his first race he broke slow and rushed up in the race, made a move, he was very green. I didn’t beat on him too much. It was a tough race that day and the winner (Bitumen) ended up winning a stakes at Saratoga. He’s a nice horse, man. He’s got a future.”
RICARDO SANTANA, JR., jockey of LOOKIN AT LEE (runner-up): “It was a nice and clear trip. We were inside and the pace was slow. We had a perfect trip, he ran good. He’s a nice horse.”