#1 Mr. Z (KY) – FINALLY Mr. Z got his second lifetime win in the Ohio Derby after so many close calls! He finds another perfect spot for him today, and should be able to run better than or right with every runner in this field based on class. The rail draw shouldn’t be a problem as he has enough early speed to get by most of these early on and not get pinned inside. It’s hard to believe I’m picking him to win, but he does seem to fit perfectly here. Sometimes all it takes is one win to open the flood gates.
#2 Divining Rod (KY) – Came within a neck of beating Mr. Z and winning the Ohio Derby last time out, and was a solid third in the Preakness two races back. It was hard to make up a ton of ground at Thistledown in a race that played to speed horses, and there is a little more speed signed on in this race today. His last workout shows that he should still be sharp and ready to roll…could give Mr. Z and all the others more than that can handle in this one.
#6 Island Town (KY) – Comes into this race off two straight victories including a Grade 3 win in the Matt Winn last time out at Churchill Downs. The talent in this race seems to be a little tougher than that one, but I do think this is a horse on the improve. Love that he draws outside of the speed as well which should give him a nice stalking trip. Plus his jockey Julien Leparoux is coming with him to ride. Expect him to keep climbing the ladder here and run a strong race.
#7 Far Right (KY) – His best race definitely would make him a top contender, but I’m having a hard time ignoring his poor performance in the Ohio Derby last time out. I can excuse a non-effort in the Kentucky Derby…but not Ohio. The race at Thistledown definitely didn’t set up well for him, but he should have had a better performance than that. He had been a model of consistency before that race so it makes me worry even more. Hoping he gets back on track in a big way in this race.
#3 Tiz Shea D (KY) – The good news is he has some solid company lines finishing behind horses like Frosted, El Kabeir, Tencendur, and Madefromlucky. The bad news is he’s been beaten by several lengths by a few of those, and really hasn’t been close to winning a race since breaking his maiden. I think he’s a great horse to play underneath considering his solid connections, but I don’t see him winning.
#5 Bold Conquest (KY) – Obviously had some issues in his Matt Winn effort as he’s much better than that. He’s been close a few times with the likes of Mr. Z and Far Right, but hasn’t been able to get buy them yet. With some small improve he could be very competitive here. Not confident enough to put him in the exotic category, but not ready to call him a throw out yet either.
#8 Deliverance Day (KY) – Has won two races in a row, but the class jump here is going to be too much for him to handle. However, I don’t blame them for taking a swing at a big purse here.
#4 Alabaster (KY) – Finished fourth in the Iowa Derby last time out, and this race has come up much harder than that one. Even his races prior to this have not been close to good enough to compete with this group. Easy toss.