#1 Whiskey Ticket (KY) – When Baffert ships in for races like this he usually wins. I’m not extremely high on Whiskey Ticket, but the “Baffert angle” makes him tough to play against. The horse won the Illinois Derby in just his second lifetime start, defeating Conquest Curlinate who has come back to run strong seconds in two stakes races. Whiskey Ticket will have to raise his game slightly to beat this field, but there is nothing that says he won’t do just that. He has every right to improve with this being his third lifetime start. Also make note that this horse was the workmate of Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah.
#2 Far Right (KY) – Draw a line through the Kentucky Derby and this guy has been really solid through out almost his entire career. In the Arkansas Derby he finished second to American Pharoah, but beat Madefromlucky easily who came back to win the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. There is no doubting that this horse was the best of the locals at Hot Springs this year, and in most cases that horse would be more than good enough to win the Ohio Derby. This years race has come up tougher than most years, but Far Right fits in very well with this group and could easily pull off the win here.
#8 Mr. Z (KY) – Everybody’s favorite whipping boy is back for more…and I fear another “close but no cigar” type of effort is looming for him. Look there is no doubting he has the talent to beat this field, but can he finally get out of his own way and win a race? This distance should be perfect for him, and he finally gets away from American Pharoah in this race. However, Far Right had his number at Oaklawn Park this year, and I could see that happening once again in this one. Maybe this time he’ll catch a little luck….or maybe not.
#4 Divining Rod (KY) – I might be underestimating him somewhat, but I didn’t like him in the Preakness and even though he did finish third in that race is was a “flawed” type of third. I don’t want to take any credit away from him, but the rain obviously really changed the dynamics of that race. Second place Preakness finisher Tale of Verve came back in the Belmont and ran poorly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Divining Rod will. He could jump up and bite me in this spot, but I can’t get on board with him just yet. Prefer a few others a bit more.
#5 War Story (KY) – It’s clear this horse has proven that he’s not the fastest in the bunch, but he’s also proven that he can grind his way to finishing on the board. I give this horse virtually no shot to win the race, but a decent shot to get third. Added distance would help which he won’t get today, but his Louisiana races might be good enough for him to have an ok race in this one.
#6 Tencendur (NY) – Who really knows what this horse is all about. If he can show up with the kind of effort that he gave in the Wood Memorial then he will win this race. Any other race however…probably not. He hasn’t been very good in any race other than that 2nd place effort to Frosted in New York so I have my doubts, but I’m not ready to completely call him terrible just yet. This race will tell us a lot.
#3 Thirtysilverpieces (KY) – Has a few wins to his name in the allowance and claiming events, but has never ran well against stakes company. Some years maybe he could compete in the Ohio Derby, but this years version came up too strong for him.
#9 Bodhisattva (CA) – Getting Espinoza aboard is a confidence booster, and a dry race track would help him here too. Still think he’s a bit overmatched, but not impossible for him to hit the board.
#7 Dekabrist (KY) – Will be the longest shot on the board and for good reason. They continue to run this horse in terrible spots, and he continues to get beat by several lengths in each start. A claiming race would be more appropriate.