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Dueling Grounds Derby Preview: Bama Breeze Favored to Find First 2020 W
Bama Breeze breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs (Credit Coady: Photography)

Dueling Grounds Derby Preview: Bama Breeze Favored to Find First 2020 W

FRANKLIN, KY – Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing’s Bama Breeze was made the 3/1 favorite as he still seeks out his first W of 2020 in Thursday’s $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs.

The Dueling Grounds Derby is a 1 5/16-mile turf route restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 10-race card (including the Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks) and has a local post time of 4:32 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Dueling Grounds Derby:

1. Dynadrive 20/1 – He makes his first start for new trainer Kelly Breen since being claimed for $40k out of a Saratoga victory. Breen has a 22% success rate with runners making their first starts after getting tagged and his 4 wins (including 3 on turf) are most of any contender here, but this is a much stiffer task than what he’s faced this year.

2. Shamrocket 6/1 – Christophe Clement’s patient handly has helped this Florida-bred improve in each of his 8 career starts, including a maiden-breaking effort 3 starts back while covering 1 1/4 miles on the Belmont Park lawn. Clement and jockey Joel Rosario have a 23% win rate together since 2019, including a healthy $2.00 ROI.

3. Jolting Joe 15/1 – Scratched.

4. Big Dreaming 15/1 – He rides a two-race win streak into this event after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs in June and defeating an optional claiming field at Arlington Park in August. Though he’s only made 3 career starts, he’s given a good account of himself each time and trainer Wayne Catalano repeats at a 21% rate with last-out winners.

5. Fighting Seabee 12/1 – Scratched.

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6. Peace Achieved 9/2 – The first of two entries from the Mark Casse barn won 3 straight last summer, including the mile-long Gainesway Farm Juvenile Stakes over the local lawn. After finishing 12th in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), he was off until the mid-August Caesars Stakes, where he finished fourth, so expect an improved effort here.

7. Kid Mercury 12/1 – He actually takes a slight cut back in distance after winning a 1 3/8-mile allowance at Delaware Park last time out, an effort that earned him a career-best 79 Beyer Speed Figure. A $475k purchase at auction, expect him to still have plenty left as several of his rivals begin to weaken.

8. Natural Power 10/1 – His first 3 career starts came last summer in his native Ireland before he shipped stateside and joined Casse’s barn. This marks his third start after a four-month layoff; he was fourth in the Audubon Stakes and third in the Not Surprising Stakes while posting back-to-back career-best Beyer Speed Figures.

9. Kinenos 8/1 – He won 2 straight earlier in his career before a pair of missteps in his first stakes attempts. He was most recently second, beaten just a 1/2-length, in a 1/16-mile optional claiming event at Indiana Grand and is one of just three runners in this field to boast three straight Beyer Speed Figures of at least 83.

10. Angelus Warrior 12/1 – He’s finished first or second in 5 of his 6 career starts and was just 1 length behind familiar rival Summer Assault last time out in the mile-long Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park. The second Maker runner attracted jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who since 2019 has won at a 25% clip when riding for this barn.

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11. Bama Breeze 3/1 – The morning line favorite is winless through 4 starts this year, but in his defense, he was facing several of the division’s best and closed strongly in 3 of those efforts. Jockey Julien Leparoux hops aboard; he and trainer Rusty Arnold have won 7 of their past 37 mounts (19%), including their lone starter together on opening day.

12. Summer Assault 15/1 – The Mystic Lake Derby winner flopped in the Caesars Stakes last time out, but that effort can be forgiven when considering it was his first time trying a less-than-firm turf surface. He rebounded from that loss to fire a strong 5-furlong work in 1 minute flat and should be well-suited for his second attempt at his fourth win.

13. Moon Over Miami 5/1 (Also Eligible) – After failing to make an impact on dirt earlier in his career, he appears to have found his best footing on turf. He posted back-to-back career-best Beyer Speed Figures of 81 and 88 after winning a 1 1/8-mile Churchill Downs allowance and finishing a close fourth in Saratoga’s Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) while going the same distance.

14. Buy Me Candy 30/1 (Also Eligible) – Scratched.

15. Salow 8/1 (Also Eligible) – Scratched.

16. Sunsation 15/1 (Also Eligible) – Scratched.

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