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The Ohio Derby is set to go this weekend at Thistledown, and for the first time ever, it will offer points towards the Kentucky Derby (G1) on a 20-10-5-1 scale. That helped lure an overdrawn field of 15 horses, including 2-Year-Old Horse of the Year Storm the Court. The event will go off as the second-to-last event on a 9-race program and has a local post time of 4:22 PM ET.
The contest revolves around Storm the Court, easily the class of the field after closing out 2019 by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). However, 2020 has not gone his way, losing all 3 starts. He’ll try to regain his form in this easier spot as he breaks from post 13 with regular jockey Flavien Prat along for the ride.
The talented Lebda ships in from Laurel Park after 2 straight victories to open up this season against ungraded stakes company. His early speed is a serious weapon and he looms as the favorite’s biggest danger. Regular rider Alex Cintron will be aboard once again, breaking from post 4.
The Steve Asmussen-trained pair of Rowdy Yates and Code Runner add intrigue to the field. Rowdy Yates will be making his first start since running fourth in late February’s Saudi Derby Cup, while Code Runner was last seen winning an allowance event at Lone Star Park. Rowdy Yates drew post 3 and will have Tyler Baze aboard, while Code Runner will break from post 9 with Ricardo Feliciano along for the ride.
The full field from the rail out includes Dean Martini, Rogue Element, Rowdy Yates, Lebda, Dack Janiel’s, Sprawl, Informative, Bear Alley, Code Runner, South Bend, Soros, Established, Storm the Court, Unrighteous, and Celtic Striker.
#6 Sprawl – This feels like a race where you have to take a big swing with a price. At 15/1 on the morning line, Sprawl seems like the logical choice, especially after his visually-impressive allowance win at Churchill Downs last time out. This horse usually comes from well off the pace, but he showed a little more early speed in his latest effort, which made all the difference. If he can get that kind of trip again here, then he will be dangerous, and it’s a big positive that Paco Lopez has shipped in to ride. We’ll take a shot with him in this wide-open spot.
#12 Established – You know that the race is crazy when a maiden is our second choice. He has just two starts under his belt, both second-place efforts. His most recent race earned a speed figure that is very competitive with this field and he only lost by a 1/2-length at Churchill Downs. Picking a maiden in a stakes race is not easy, but this field leaves a lot to be desired. If he can work out a trip from this outside post, then he could make some noise at a big price.
#13 Storm the Court – He should win easily if he can get back to his 2-year-old form; it’s just really hard to think that he can do that, considering his 3 non-competitive efforts this season. Also, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) has come back as a very poor race, which makes him even less appealing. He’s a defensive use in multi-race wagers, but he has to prove himself before we can bet him to win.
#4 Lebda – His early speed should be a serious weapon at a track that usually favors it, and he comes into the race in great from, winning both starts this year. His only question mark is his class level, but this is one of the easiest Grade 3 fields that he will ever face. All of those factors should make him a player in this spot, and his recent workouts suggest that he’s ready to run a solid race.
#10 South Bend – Since winning the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old, he has been disappointing on both dirt and turf. He seems to be regressing with each start as well, but perhaps moving back to dirt might help, as could this lighter field.
#3 Rowdy Yates – This horse’s path has been extremely unusual, especially for an Oklahoma-bred. Two races back, he shipped to Sunland Park to win the Mine That Bird Derby, then went all the way to Saudi Arabia to finish fourth in the Saudi Derby Cup. This is a very logical spot and he’s had plenty of time off to recover from his overseas trip. He should make noise late with a closing run.
#9 Code Runner – He’s ready to take another shot against stakes company after a big win last time out at Lone Star Park. His only other stakes effort did not go well, as he was defeated handily in the Arkansas Derby (G1), but this is a much easier spot.
#11 Soros – Maybe his third race off the layoff will produce an improved result. He showed some promise as a 2-year-old, but he failed to return to form this season. If you are willing to give him one more shot, his price should be fair, and this race is not as tough as the Unbridled Stakes that produced the Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up.
#1 Dean Martini – Just two races back, he was claimed for $50k and moved to the Tom Amoss barn. He made a solid debut for his new connections last time out, finishing second in a tough allowance race at Churchill Downs. That type of effort gives him a chance in this wide-open spot. If he can show a bit more improvement, then he could make some noise at 20/1.
#15 Celtic Striker – After winning 2 of 4 races to start his career, he looked ready for stakes company, but that wasn’t the case. He was nowhere to found in the Gotham Stakes (G3) or the Matt Winn Stakes (G3), losing by a combined 50+ lengths.
#5 Dack Janiel’s – He wins the award for having the field’s best name! That is where the good news ends, though. Getting back to the dirt should help, but he’s moving way up in class compared to what he’s faced lately.
#14 Unrighteous – After 4 attempts to break his maiden, the son of Violence finally got the job done last time out, winning a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park by 4 lengths. That effort earned him a shot here, but his outside post position will make it tough.
#7 Informative – He has just 1 victory from 11 starts and was soundly defeated in every stakes effort. This field leaves a lot to be desired, so maybe he can make some noise, but he still looks outclassed.
#8 Bear Alley – The first of two Dale Romans-trained 5-race maidens, Bear Alley has three straight second-place efforts on his resume, but he still seems overmatched here.
#2 Rogue Element – The lone Also Eligible will be hard-pressed to win. The second Dale Romans-trained 5-race maiden has lost by a combined 70 lengths in his last 2 starts.
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