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.
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.