The $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) is set for this Saturday at Thistledown, drawing 7 horses looking to gain a valuable victory in what is a wide open 3-year-old division. The race is one of three stakes events on a 10-race card, which kicks off at 1:10 PM ET. The Ohio Derby is set for race 9, with a local post time of 5:15 PM ET.
Headlining the field is Preakness Stakes (G1) 3rd place finisher Owendale, who won the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland two races back. The Brad Cox trainee has shown solid improvement since early in the season where he was soundly defeated in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. Jockey Florent Geroux will have the mount once again today, breaking from post 3.
The Steve Asmussen trained Long Range Toddy will look to rebound in this spot after running poorly in his last two efforts. After winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) it looked as though he was on his way to a big year; however, he didn’t find his best stride in the Arkansas Derby (G1) or Kentucky Derby (G1). Both of those races were over a wet race track, though, which has Asmussen hoping for a dry track on Saturday.
“I blame it on the weather,” Asmussen said of Long Range Toddy’s effort at Churchill Downs. “We know he’s better than that. If we don’t see him at his best, then the circumstances are secondary. We’re hoping for a fast track [for the Ohio Derby].”
The full field from the rail includes: Math Wizard, Owendale, Long Range Toddy, Global Campaign (he will scratch), Going for Gold, Bethlehem Road, and Dare Day.
#2 Owendale – The level of improvement shown by this Brad Cox trainee has been impressive. After getting pummeled in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), many pundits wrote him off, but he bounced back with a win in the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. He then was third in the Preakness Stakes (G1), which is obviously a nice accomplishment. However, the top 2 finishers in the Preakness came back to run poorly, putting the strength of this year’s Preakness in question.
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#3 Long Range Toddy – We’ll see if he can bounce back today after back to back poor performances over sloppy race tracks. If you rewind back to March, this horse was a top Kentucky Derby contender, after winning the Rebel Stakes (G2). In that race he defeated Improbable, who thought of as the top 3-year-old in the country at the time. That turned out not to be true; however, it was still an impressive victory for Long Range Toddy. If the track is fast today, he should be a major player in a race of this magnitude.
#1 Math Wizard – There is no doubt this horse has shown some talent in his last few races; however, he could do no better than fourth in either the Wood Memorial (G2) or $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational. This race should set up well with his late closing running style, with several speed horses signed on for this event. That gives him a legitimate shot to make an impact in this spot. It will just be a matter of his talent level, which could be a cut below the top trio of horses.
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#6 Bethlehem Road – After three straight victories, it’s time for him to step up to graded stakes company today. He has made the logical progression to get to this spot, winning a maiden, allowance, and $75,000 stakes event in his first three starts. This will be his first race away from Parx, which is a major question mark, while he’ll also stretch out in distance for this event. He’ll likely show speed right out of the gate, which gives him the best shot to upset one of the “big 3” in this race.
#7 Dare Day – This Ohio bred is off to a nice start after winning two straight races to kick off his career. However, both starts have come at one-turn, and also against state bred company. This will be a major step up in competition today, which is something that he might not be ready for at this time. Look for him to go to the front and try to take this field wire to wire.
#5 Going for Gold – The maiden will try stakes company for the third strategy race, which is surprising considering he has been dominated in his last two starts. He’s a long shot that is hard to get behind no matter how you look at the race.