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Indiana Derby Preview: Wide-Open Field Scrambles for Derby Points
Taishan after breaking his maiden (Credit: Benoit Photo)

Indiana Derby Preview: Wide-Open Field Scrambles for Derby Points

For the first time ever, this year’s $300,000 Indiana Derby (G3) will be worth points towards the Kentucky Derby on a 20-8-4-2 scale, the big reason it drew a competitive field of 10. Indiana Grand made the unique decision to hold it on a Wednesday, which should be an interesting experiment. The event will go off as race 11 on a card that also features the Indiana Oaks (G3). Local post time for the contest is 7:45 PM ET. 

At his best, the California shipper Taishan has looked elite, such as when he romped at Oaklawn Park against allowance company 3 starts back. Since then, he finished third in the Oaklawn Stakes and off the board in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He breaks from post 3 with Rafael Bejarano aboard. 

Major Fed stands out in this group from a class standpoint. He finished a strong second in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) before running fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2), though most recently, he was a disappointing 10th in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3). James Graham comes in for the mount, breaking from post 8. 

Shared Sense has powerful connections on his side: trainer Brad Cox is having another solid season and Florent Geroux remains his go-to rider. Last time out, Shared Sense was second in a top-level allowance race at Churchill Downs, defeated by a serious Kentucky Derby prospect. He drew post 5. 

The full field from the rail out: No Getting Over Me, Extraordinary, Taishan, Earner, Shared Sense, Background, Juggernaut, Major Fed, Winning Impression, and Necker Island

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Top Choice 

#4 Earner – This race can make your head spin if you look at it too long. We settled with Earner as our top pick, mostly due to the strength of his last start. In that spot, he set the early pace before fading late to finish third, but the winner is pointed toward the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and the runner-up just won the Ohio Derby (G3). Here’s hoping that Earner can do the same thing here. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#3 Taishan – His Oaklawn Park allowance win was probably good enough to beat this group, but he has been highly inconsistent and his prior stakes efforts were disappointing. This should be considered a major class drop, though, which gives him a solid shot. 

#5 Shared Sense – Cox and Geroux are dangerous no matter where they enter, and he has shown a bit of talent in his last few starts. Last time out, he was second to Art Collector, who earned a flashy 100 Beyer speed figure for that victory and is heading to the Blue Grass. His connections and back class should make him a factor.

#9 Winning Impression – Though far from a world-beater, he is the morning line favorite. He was most recently fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1), losing by multiple lengths, and while he matches up better here, he is no more than a defensive use on multi-race tickets. 

Exotic Plays 

#8 Major Fed – Do not expect a good price on him, but you have to like that he finished well in solid prep races that were tougher than this field. His last race was not good, though, and he looks more like a “hit the board” type than an actual win contender.

Party Crashers 

#2 Extraordinary – He has just 1 victory from 4 starts, but he was facing quality horses in his last 2 efforts, including our top choice. He moves up in class, but it’s a plus that Luis Saez comes in to ride. 

Throw Outs 

#10 Necker Island – He had a bright future at one point, but he has not yet lived up to that billing. He makes his first start for new trainer Chris Hartman after being claimed for $100k, but we need to see more from him before we back him. 

#1 No Getting Over Me – After impressively breaking his maiden on debut, he lost his next 5 starts, including his last 2 while facing Florida-breds. This should be a much tougher challenge for him.

#6 Background – He was easily defeated in all 4 starts since breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park in February. It is hard to see that trend turning around here. 

#7 Juggernaut – In his last 3 dirt starts, he finished ninth, ninth, and – you guessed it – ninth. Safe to say, he has not lived up to his name. 

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