Patrona Margarita captured the G2 Pocahontas Stakes and The Tabulator won the G3 Iroquois on Saturday at Churchill Downs, winning not only the purse money but getting free invitations and trips to this year’s Breeders’ Cup festival at Del Mar.

The talented 2-year-olds also picked up qualifying points for next Spring’s runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. So, all in all, it was a win-win-win day for those connections.

But the real star on Saturday may have just been a horse by the name of Hollywood Star. Despite a poor beginning, the colt needled his way in and around a ton of traffic to put himself in a dead aim position with a furlong to go in the Iroquois. All signals were on go.

But with The Tabulator wandering and stumbling all over the track in the final yards, Hollywood Star never got a clear path to finish the comeback deal and had to settle for second.  A second that may just set him up perfectly for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, too.

“I’m happy with the way he ran,” said Hollywood Star’s trainer Dale Romans, who trails Bill Mott, 701-699, for most wins by a trainer in Churchill Downs’ 143-year history. “He was second in a tough race and he ran well. He got off a little slow and he came running and galloped-out really strong. He showed he likes the racetrack, so we’ll move on to the next step.”

The Iroquois also is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Juvenile Division” Challenge and the win by The Tabulator earned the Kentucky-bred son of Dialed In a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar on Nov. 4. The Tabulator’s $60,000 entry fees will be paid by Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and his connections will receive a travel stipend for his possible trip to California.

Hollywood Star’s jockey, Robby Albarado, also was pleased with his mount’s performance. “He ran well. He broke a little tardy, a little sluggish. But he got an inside trip and came out nice turning for home. I’ll congratulate the winner – they have a nice horse. And Hollywood Star is a good horse. He ran well.”

Yes, take nothing away from The Tabulator, who is now a perfect 3-for-3 for trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Carolyn Wilson. The Tabulator stalked the early pace set by Smart Remark, who led the field of 10 through fractions of :23.12 and :47.73. But midway around the final turn, The Tabulator and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr, who is having a superb year, took command. Heading for home, they sprinted off to a 21/2-length lead.

Nearing the wire of the 11/16-mile event, it appeared that the leader was leg-weary and tiring as he drifted off the rail into the middle of the track. Still, he had plenty enough lead to hold off the fast-closing Hollywood Star.

“It’s always exciting to get a win here at Churchill Downs,” said The Tabulator’s jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. “He’s still young as we know but now he’s proven around two turns. We’ve always thought highly of him and he’s always acted like a nice horse from the beginning.

The owner was elated.

“I’ve never had a horse start off like this and I’ve been in the game for more than 15 years,” Wilson said. “Larry is a wonderful trainer. He and his entire team do such a great job with our horses and it’s so exciting to have a horse like this. It’s really easy when I just write a check and this happens.”

In the Pocahontas there was drama of a different kind. Patrona Margarita shook up the scene and the tote board when she roared to a 33/4-length victory over Kelly’s Humor at odds of 23-to-1.

Patrona Margarita, a Texas-bred daughter of Special Rate out of the Naevus mare Margarita Mistress, banked $115,320 for the win and guaranteed herself a starting spot in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) on Nov. 4 at Del Mar. The Pocahontas is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Juvenile Fillies Challenge Division, which means the winner will also will have her entry fees and a travel allowance paid by Breeders’ Cup. However, Patrona Margarita is not currently Breeders’ Cup eligible to receive those perks.

Patrona Margarita also is the early points-leader on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks after collecting 10 points. The Pocahontas was the first of 30 qualifying races to the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) to be run next May, and points were awarded to the Top 4 finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Patrona Margarita (4-2-0-1—$150,253) paid $49.60, $22 and $9.40. Kelly’s Humor, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, paid $6.80 and $4.80. Sunny Skies was another neck back in third under Robby Albarado and paid $4 to show.

Primo Extremo, Upset Brewing, Sultry, Harbor Lights, Firstmate, 3-1 favorite Snowfire, Take Charge Paula, Vision of Justice and Lady Freedom completed the order of finish.

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., who had to shake off the cobwebs of a nasty spill just a couple of races before, was happy that he was OK, for sure, and still able to ride the upset winner.

“Her works have been really impressive over this racetrack,” said Hernandez. “She really stepped up today and showed us what she’s made of. We tracked the speed just behind horses. With 2-year-olds you never know how they will respond passing horses and you have to feel good the way she was able to win this race today.”

Trainer Bret Calhoun was relieved, too.

“What a rollercoaster-day. It’s a tough when you think back on what could have been winning two stakes (Calhoun-trained Mayla was disqualified from first to sixth in the Open Mind for interference in the stretch-run and the trainer of the horse that dumped Hernandez to the ground) but we are happy to win the Pocahontas. She’s not Breeders’ Cup eligible so we’ll probably point towards the (Oct. 6) Alcibiades at Keeneland. After breaking her maiden over this track we tried her in the Debutante and she got stopped badly. She’s a Texas-bred so we sent her to Lone Star for the Texas Futurity and she ran a solid third. She’s not a sprinter so we knew she’d improve as the distances got longer. She’s trained phenomenally over this racetrack recently and I’m happy to see everything come together.”

Kelly’s Humor, who had the great misfortune of having to break from the far outside in her first try around two turns, did not perform badly at all to run second.

“Given our (outside) post and a wide trip – and they didn’t go as fast up front as I thought they would – it was overall a solid effort,” said Brad Cox, the trainer of Kelly’s Humor. “I’m real pleased and hopefully it’s something we can build on. I don’t know where we’ll go next, but it’ll be a graded stakes somewhere.”