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The complexion of Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino changed on Wednesday when trainer Mike Maker entered the Grade 3 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes winner Fast and Accurate.
A son of the speedy Eclipse 2-year-old champion Hansen, Fast and Accurate has three wins from eight starts and is the contender most likely to want the early lead. He was close to the early pace in the Kentucky Derby but finished well off the board after having to check three times over the course of the race. In his next start, the Arlington Classic, he finished fourth after stumbling badly out of the gate and then rushing to the lead.
Fast and Accurate will have the advantage of local rider T. D. Houghton in Saturday’s race. The horse will ship to Thistledown on Friday in the care of assistant trainer Dave Kueffner.
However, as expected, Girvin was made the 2-1 morning line favorite when entries were drawn on Wednesday. He is easily the class of the field, and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be flying in for the ride.
#5 Girvin – This is a boring pick, but it’s hard to go any other way with the field assembled in this one. Girvin has already beaten a few key entries in this race and looks to be faster than the ones he’s never faced. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is coming in just to ride this horse. Even though he’s likely to be a short price, there just aren’t any attractive alternatives. Most of the horses entered here are ones I’ve been strongly against throughout the Triple Crown trail this Winter/Spring.
#3 Untrapped – He definitely has a little bit of talent, but it’s a bit discouraging that he only has one win in seven races. Also, some of the horses that he has lost to haven’t come back to run all that well, and Girvin beat him decisively four races back in the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. Still, I do believe that, with the right kind of trip and a little luck, he can turn the tables on him here. He always seems to be in the mix (other than the Kentucky Derby), so expect him to be around at the end with a chance.
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#2 Irap – His win in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland might have been a major fluke, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t win this race. The Blue Grass race aside, the efforts from his other races would still make him competitive in this spot. Out of the major three players, he’s going to be bet pretty hard, so he won’t offer much value. Look for him to be near the lead with Fast and Accurate and see if he can stay the trip this time.
#7 Hinton – He’s most likely to be the longest shot on the board, but his last two races are fast enough to put him in the conversation for finishing underneath here and making trifectas and superfectas pay well. There’s no doubt that he’s stepping up in class for this one, so that definitely is a question mark, but in a race that seems starved of value, Hinton could be your longshot to get a price here.
#1 Talk Less, #1A Vibe, and #1X Game Over – I’m not in love with any of these three, but with three entries that will likely be a big price, they wouldn’t be the worst longshot wager to make. Talk Less is probably the most intriguing, as he comes into the race with an undefeated record on the dirt. He started his career with four straight turf losses but has won his last two on the dirt. However, this is a major step up in class. Game Over is a perfect two for two in his career, but like Talk Less, this is going to be a big step up. Vibe looks to be the worst of the three and was beaten badly in the past by Sorry Erik. Still, if the value is there, they aren’t the worst bet to make.
#4 Sorry Erik – It’s tough seeing him making much of an impact here, as he’s been beaten badly twice by Girvin and once by Untrapped. Not sure I blame them for taking a shot in a race this weak with a big purse, but he’ll need to really improve in order to win.
#6 Fast and Accurate – A surprise last-second entry, he wasn’t mentioned in the probables all week long leading up to the draw. I’ve never liked this horse and believe that his best shot of winning again is to get back on the synthetic surface. His early speed will factor into the race, but he’s not nearly fast enough to win.
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