A full field of 12 are set for this Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. 2018 marks the 84th running of the race, which is the state of Ohio’s only graded stakes race of the year. Kentucky Derby runners Flameaway and Lone Sailor headline the event, which will go off as the ninth on a 10-race card.
The Mark Casse-trained Flameaway has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite for the race, partially because he already has two graded stakes victories on his resume. As a juvenile, he picked up a big win in the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland before taking home the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs as a 3-year-old. That win, along with second-place efforts in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, qualified him for the Kentucky Derby. He was 13th in that race, but Casse believes that effort was a throw-out.
“We just threw that one out,” Casse said of the rain-soaked Kentucky Derby. “The track was bad that day. We gave him a little break after that race and he has trained really well since.
“I like his post position (2) for Saturday,” Casse continued. “I think the horse to beat is Lone Sailor. I expect my horse to be fairly close (to the lead). We could see some speed from Title Ready, Steve Asmussen’s horse, and Trigger Warning is coming in off sprints, so he could show some speed. Looks like it’ll be a very good, very competitive race.”
Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes participant Lone Sailor will surely like getting away from Justify in this race as he matches up against softer company here. He was a decent eighth in the Kentucky Derby, then followed that up with a solid fifth in the Preakness, where he was only beaten by 2 lengths. Since his effort in the Preakness, he has fired back-to-back bullet workouts at Churchill Downs.
The field from the rail out for the Grade 3 Ohio Derby: Takedown, Flameaway, Lone Sailor, Caloric, Title Ready, Trigger Warning, Diamond King, Machismo, O’Kratos, Core Beliefs, Dream Baby Dream, and Last Drop of Wine. Local post time for the race is 5:10 PM ET.
#3 Lone Sailor – From day one, trainer Tom Amoss has been very high on this horse, but he has also pointed out that he has been a work in progress. After losing the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby by only a neck, he qualified for the Kentucky Derby and ran okay to finish eighth. That effort gave Amoss enough confidence to give the Preakness a try, and he ran well to finish fifth. Now, he’s entered in a race that he fits into well from a class standpoint, and his experience should pay off this time around. He has been firing bullet workouts at Churchill Downs in preparation for this race, and the pace looks to be plenty fast up front for him to make a big run. This may finally be his moment after a few close calls that could have easily been wins.
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#10 Core Beliefs – He is most famous for finishing third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby where he was defeated by Justify and finished ahead of Instilled Regard. Those company lines certainly catch the eye because they are a couple of the crop’s best horses, while Bolt d’Oro, one of the top horses when he is at his best, was also in that race. Last time out, he shipped to Belmont Park for the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes, where he finished a solid second to Blended Citizen. He’ll be a factor right from the start in this race, and the outside post will give jockey Joe Talamo some options.
#2 Flameaway – There is no doubt that he is the class of the race, and this will serve as a major class drop. His non-factor in the Kentucky Derby shouldn’t be held against him. His early speed and inside post position draw will make him dangerous over a track that usually favors speed. He will have every chance to win against this sort of competition.
#5 Title Ready – After an impressive allowance victory at Oaklawn Park to kick off his season, he was quickly thrown into the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, where he finished a well-beaten fourth. He also had very little luck in the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes, where he finished fourth again, but he did show some improvement in his last start when finishing second in the $100,000 LARC Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico. He could could play a factor underneath in this spot if he can continue to show some improvement.
#7 Diamond King – This horse burst onto the scene with a nice-looking win to round out his juvenile season at Laurel Park before switching to the barn of John Servis for his 3-year-old campaign. In his second race of the year, he shipped to Laurel Park to win the the $125,000 Tesio Stakes. The Tesio winner pretty much always runs in the Preakness, and Diamond King followed that plan despite being overmatched. This spot makes much morse sense for him. If he can get to the front, then he could hold on for a piece of things.
#9 O’Kratos – He is a bit of a wild card because he will be trying the dirt for the first time. He comes into the race off of two straight victories at Woodbine, including an impressive 3/4-length victory last time out in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes. The ultimate question now is whether this horse will take to this surface. His breeding looks fairly iffy for this try, but he should like going the distance. He is one that gives you mixed signals but is worth a shot if the price is close to his morning line of 12-1.
#8 Machismo – Along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, this colt seemed to become a bit of a “wise guy” horse. He never lived up to that kind of hype, but has been working out well for this race. That could be a sign that he is rested and ready after racing back-to-back weeks in the Blue Grass and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Both of those races were a disaster, but if he can get back to his earlier form at Gulfstream Park over the winter, then he could make an impact in this race at a monster price.
#11 Dream Baby Dream – A few races back in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, this colt finished second to Runaway Ghost, but he has not done much since that race. He probably was in over his head in the Arkansas Derby, but he should have given a better effort last time out in the Sir Barton. This spot could be a little too tough for him.
#1 Takedown – Last time out was his first try against stakes company, and he ran okay to finish third in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico. He was not overly competitive in that spot, but he could move forward a bit off of that effort. Perhaps not enough, though, to make an impact in this tougher spot.
#6 Trigger Warning – He comes into this race off of two straight victories, including the $1oo,000 Tom Ridge Stakes at Presque Isle Downs last time out. However, his record when racing around two turns is not very good, having finished 13th and sixth in both tries going long. The distance is likely to be a problem once again.
#4 Caloric – This horse is no stranger to being a big price in stakes races. He was seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby at odds of 99-1, then was fourth at 67-1 in the Tom Ridge. Look for him to be another big price here as he looks to be overmatched for the third straight time.
#12 Last Drop of Wine – Oddly enough, this horse will try stakes company for the first time in this spot after winning just two out of 11 lifetime starts. In his two previous trips over this track, he has finished fifth and sixth against allowance company. He will likely be the longest shot on the board.