Handicapping the Indiana Derby

Indiana Derby Favorite Irap May Not be so Handsome

The $500,000 Indiana Derby is set for Saturday, and it’s time to pick a winner. The Derby is race 9 and the last of six stakes on a strong 10-race program that includes the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) in race 8. While the American Graded Stakes Committee dropped both the Derby and Oaks to Grade 3’s this year, they still drew solid fields of 11 and 8 horses respectively.

Trainer Doug O’Neill saddles the favorite in both races for 3-year-olds with Mopotism (7-5) breaking from the outside post in the Oaks and Irap (8-5) drawing the No. 2 post in the Derby. O’Neill also trains the favorite in the Warrior Veterans Stakes, Gangster (5-2). O’Neill’s go to jockey Mario Gutierrez will ride all three favorites.

Have Fun betting Indiana Derby and All Stakes Pick Four

No Derby runners have more than two wins in their careers, but Irap is the lone millionaire having broke through for his maiden win in the Blue Grass Stakes to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, where he finished up the track in 18th place. But a victory in the Ohio Derby in late June when he finished well clear of Steve Asmussen-trained Untrapped (6-1) should have the Tiznow colt drawing plenty action as the favorite. Irap is the proven horse and best horse in the field, but will offer little value when wagering.

Awesome Saturday (8-1) is an up and comer for trainer Bret Calhoun who tries stakes company for the first time. He’s raced five times, all this year, and finished in the money each time with a pair of wins. His last race in June was an impressive 3-length win at this distance over Watch Me Whip (10-1), who drew the outside post for trainer Dale Romans. Brian Hernandez, Jr. has ridden Awesome Saturday in all his starts, and figures to be cashing in again Saturday night with a breakthrough win pushing the pace not too far-fetched.

Untrapped was 3rd behind Irap in the Ohio Derby, and while the cutback in distance may help him, the others mentioned including Hollywood Handsome (8-1) seem to be better shots. Hollywood Handsome fired a 5 furlong bullet work of 23 at the distance on July 3 and then breezed easy again for trainer Dallas Stewart on July 9 at Churchill. He should rebound well off his DNF performance in the Belmont when Florent Geroux was removed from the irons and did not finish. He was 4th in the Louisiana Derby in April, but the impressive performance was his allowance win when he won at this distance on the front end with a fast pace. Must include if you’re looking for a long shot winner and a score in your horizontal wagers.

The Derby is the cashing leg in an all-stakes pick four, and post time Saturday night is 9:49 ET.

Illinois Derby Offers Preakness Potential for Contenders

Hawthorne Hosts $250,000 Illinois Derby

Saturday’s $250,000 Grade III Illinois Derby returns to Hawthorne Race Course after a 1-year hiatus as management secured its purse funding. While the race will not produce any Kentucky Derby entries, it is certainly one to watch for Preakness Stakes candidates.

Hawthorne management has moved the race to an evening time slot, and a credible and competitive seven-horse field will showcase some promising 3-year-olds looking to make the Preakness Stakes their next stop.

Hedge Fund (3-1) set the blistering pace before finishing 3rd in the Sunland Derby (G3) in New Mexico the end of March. The Super Saver colt trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times, will more likely be in stalking position behind Stand and Cheer (8-1) and perhaps St. Louis Guy (6-1) as the field turns for home in the 1 1/8 mile race.

It’s Your Nickel (6-1) won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park and finished 6th in the Grade I Blue Grass at Keeneland just two weeks ago. He’s the only stakes winner in field, but none have won a graded race. The closer to watch is Hollywood Handsome (4-1), who rallied from last to finish 4th  Inthe Grade II Louisiana Derby, just 3 lengths back of Girvin, who tops the Kentucky Derby points list.

Mr. Misunderstood (7-2) can also close and he’s won three in a row and progressed in each race. Perhaps that’s why trainer Brad Cox, who wins at a 24% rate with shippers, has entered him here despite two of those wins coming over the turf at the Fair Grounds and the other on a sloppy track.

Multiplier (9-2) breaks from the rail and has speed, but the distance and step up are questions to be answered.

Watch the Illinois Derby with an eye towards the Preakness Stakes. Same with the main local prep for the Preakness when a small field of five enter the starting gate for Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tessio Stakes at Laurel Park.

Race 5: April 22 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne Racecours, three-year-olds, one and one eighth miles on the dirt, post time 6:17pm CDT