The Important One keeps rolling in Iroquois

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

The Important One (inside) cuts the corner en route to victory in the Iroquois on Saturday’s Empire Showcase Day card at Belmont Park. Derbe Glass/NYRA Photo.

By Paul Halloran

Dry dirt, wet dirt, doesn’t much matter. As long as it is dirt.

That’s pretty much the story of the recent success of The Important One, who made it three wins in a row – all on dirt, after seven straight losses on turf – with a gate-to-wire score in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park Saturday.

The Bloom Racing homebred broke first under Jose Lezcano and led every step of the way in the Iroquois, a race for fillies and mares that started in 1979 and has been run at six different distances, including the current 6 1/2 furlongs.

“She broke so well I was able to get to the rail,” Lezcano said. “She was very comfortable going the first quarter-mile. After that, she started picking things up a little bit, but I had plenty of horse the whole way around.”

The Important One led by a length after a quarter-mile in :23.04 and a half in :45.70. Lezcano increased the advantage to 3 lengths at the top of the stretch and kept extending to the wire, finishing in 1:18.03 over the sloppy track. Wet-track specialist Miss Jimmy outdueled Espresso Shot for second.

“She’s been pretty good once we hit the dirt and let her do her thing,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “She’s settled down a lot, too, since she had a little break last winter. She came back and has run very well.”

A daughter of Majestic City out of the Old Trieste mare Hitch Village, The Important One was a late foal, born June 3, 2017. She did not race at 2, but won two of her first three starts in 2020: her debut on dirt at Aqueduct (for Wesley Ward) and a turf allowance at Belmont in her first start for Asmussen. She lost three straight before getting a six-month freshening – ironically, because the turf racing season was coming to a close in New York.

After four straight losses on turf to start her 4-year-old campaign, Asmussen opted to keep her in a race at Saratoga Aug. 21 that came off the turf. Voila! She won by 5 3/4 lengths and backed up that performance with a 1 3/4-length score on the Belmont dirt Oct. 7.

Both of those races were on tracks labeled fast, but she was even more effective on the off-going Saturday as the 2-1 second choice.

“It’s funny how things work out,” Jeff Bloom said. “She’s obviously found a home on the main track. She ran well on dirt before, so when the race (at Saratoga) came off, we thought, ‘OK, this will work out.’ But to see her rise to this level of talent is a pleasure.”

Bloom campaigned Majestic City, who won his first three races, including the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile, and placed in two Grade 1 races as a 2-year-old. The 2019 leading freshman sire in New York, he stands for $2,500 at Irish Hill & Dutchess Views Stallions in Stillwater. Hitch Village took 17 starts to break her maiden and did not run again.

Bloom said he bought Hitch Village in foal to Goldencents for the purpose of breeding to Majestic City in what turned out to be a prudent decision.

“We got lucky,” said Bloom, who is a big fan of the New York-bred program. “These Showcase events are huge. Being the stallion owner, the breeder and the horse owner is a wonderful trifecta. It’s a phenomenal program in New York.”

The Important One improved her record to 13-5-0-3, with the $82,500 winner’s share bringing her career earnings to $278,190.

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