It has long been established the time to start thinking about the coming Kentucky Derby is the day after the existing Kentucky Derby. The official road to the 2023 Run for the Roses got started on September 17 with the first qualifying points race being run at Churchill Downs. As can be expected in this game, it was a bit of a surprise as to who ran to the finish line first.

  The Iroquois got things rolling toward the first Saturday in May with a competitive nine-horse field running a mile and a sixteenth around two turns beneath the Twin Spires. This challenging endeavor for two-year-old colts saw Curly Jack pass the test with flying colors.

Trained by Tom Amoss, this son of Good Magic broke well and settled up the back side off the early pace (23.53 opening quarter, 47.48 half mile) of favored Echo Again and Damon’s Mound. With plenty of gas in the tank, jockey Edgar Morales swung Curly four wide as the horses turned for home. Stretching his stride with the characteristics of a good closing horse, this grandson of Roman Ruler rolled to the lead at the eighth pole and ran all the way through the wire. Winning by a length at odds of 10-1, Curly Jack looked like a classic distance horse in this one.

“I thought going two turns would help our chances against a really good field”, says Amoss. “We will see how he comes out of this race but hopefully it is on to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in November.”

These horses are still very young and it is a long time until May 6, 2023. The Iroquois is just the first of many prep races for the coming Kentucky Derby. This win gives Curly Jack 10 points towards a spot in the Derby starting gates and marks his second victory in four career starts. For those scoring at home, both of those wins have come at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

photo by Coady