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.

Ohio Derby Preview

Girvin is Favorite in Field of 9 for $500,000 Ohio Derby

Saturday’s Grade 3 Ohio Derby is the richest race in the U.S. over the weekend just outside Cleveland. Nine 3-year-olds are ready to run 9 furlongs over the main track at JACK Thisledown, and the $500,000 purse ensures a big payday.

Girvin winning Louisiana Derby

Girvin is the 2-1 favorite and the multiple graded stakes winner had his biggest score when winning the $1 million Louisiana Derby in April.  He followed with a 13th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, as he wasn’t fully healthy with a hoof crack and also had a troubled trip under Mike Smith that included being sharply steadied along the far turn. Smith rides Girvin for the second time, and the Joe Sharp-trained colt has 3 wins and a second in five starts, and he worked a 5 furlong bullet in 1:00.00 at Churchill Downs June 17.

Irap (3-1) is the Tiznow colt who surprised everyone winning the Blue Grass Stakes at 31-1 odds. He beat four Derby runners that day at Keeneland on a deep track, and then was another big long shot who suffered a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. Irap is expected to be near the leaders breaking from the rail with Julien Leparoux looking for a similar Blue Grass trip.

Untrapped (9-2) has just one win in seven starts and was 2nd behind Girvin in the Risen Star (G3) in February at identical 8-1 odds. He finished just in front of Girvin in the Kentucky Derby after a 6th place finish in the Arkansas Derby when Smith rode him. Ricardo Santana, Jr. was up in the Risen Star and Derby, and takes over again here for trainer Steve Asmussen. A stalking trip near mid pack hoping for plenty of speed up front and a late burst.

Fast and Accurate (8-1) is the fourth and final Kentucky Derby runner in this field who faded badly to finish 18th in Louisville. He’s expected to set the pace in Ohio like he did in his recent start May 27 in the Arlington Classic (G3) on the turf. He folded up in the stretch to finish 4th, and Mike Maker’s colt will have a tough time holding off stronger runners at 9 furlongs.

Sorry Erik (6-1) is trained and ridden by the Desormeaux brothers and is 2-0for-5 this year with a 5th in the Louisiana Derby and 7th in the Risen Star, both as a huge long shot. He needs a very fast pace to run into, which he got in his recent allowance race at Santa Anita when he rallied from last to finish second.

Game Over (12-1), Talk Less (12-1), Vibe (12-1) and Hinton (20-1), who is 3-for-4 and moves up sharply in class, complete the field as longer shots.

The Ohio Derby is Race 8 on Saturday, June 24 with post time for the 1 1/8 mile race at 5:30 ET.


2017 kentucky derby odds

2017 Kentucky Derby Odds Announced

An interesting thing happened this time last year at Churchill Downs. The race went chalk. The top four finishers were the first four choices on the betting board. With the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds being released this morning, are we in for the same fate on Saturday?

I’m not quite so sure. The oddsmakers have inserted four horses as clear cut favorites with the top option being Classic Empire, who has earned a 4/1 mark since winning the Arkansas Derby. The long time preference of horse players in the futures market is also the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, so he’s a familiar face with a lot of experience under his saddle.

The main threats according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds are McCraken and Always Dreaming who share 5/1 odds. Essentially the difference boils down to what we know about each horse. McCraken has appeared vindictive since his first loss in the Blue Grass, where he finished third, and that’s the response you want from a competitor.

Always Dreaming is a different story. The colt simply seems to have mercurial talent. He won the Florida Derby without needing any urging from his jockey. The problem is that this was his only stakes race. That he wont he race so convincingly is awesome, but the fact that he’s never been challenged is a bit concerning. The benefit with Always Dreaming is that he seems destined for the longer distances.

Irish War Cry is the last of the favorites according to the 2017 Kentucky Derby odds, and he is coming off a strong performance in the Wood Memorial. There are doubts about whether he has the legs to go the 1 1/8th miles.

The full list of entrants are below and you’ll notice that the longshots start at a distant 15/1. There’s no middle ground. That’s very telling of the talent in this race. As a note, Royal Mo and Master Plan are alternates for this race but are being given 2017 Kentucky Derby odds regardless.


2017 Kentucky Derby – Saturday, May 6th at 6:46pm EST
1 1/8th Miles – 3 Year Olds – $2,000,000

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Lookin At Lee Corey Lanerie Steve Asmussen 20-1
2 Thunder Snow Christophe Soumillion Saeed bin Suroor 20-1
3 Fast and Accurate Channing Hill Mike Maker 50-1
4 Untrapped Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 30-1
5 Always Dreaming John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 5-1
6 State of Honor Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 30-1
7 Girvin Mike Smith Joe Sharp 15-1
8 Hence Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 15-1
9 Irap Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 20-1
10 Gunnevera Javier Castellano Antonio Sano 15-1
11 Battle of Midway Flavien Prat Jerry Hollendorfer 30-1
12 Sonneteer Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 50-1
13 J Boys Echo Luis Saez Dale Romans 20-1
14 Classic Empire Julian Leparoux Mark Casse 4-1
15 McCraken Brian Hernandez Jr. Ian Wilkes 5-1
16 Tapwrit Jose Ortiz Todd Pletcher 20-1
17 Irish War Cry Rajiv Maragh Graham Motion 6-1
18 Gormley Victor Espinoza John Shirreffs 15-1
19 Practical Joke Joel Rosario Chad Brown 20-1
20 Patch Tyler Gaffalione Todd Pletcher 30-1
AE Royal Mo Gary Stevens John Shirreffs 20-1
AE Master Plan John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 50-1
2017 Risen Star Stakes results

2017 Risen Star Stakes Results

The Road to the Kentucky Derby took a sharp turn this past weekend when the first of the prep races to offer 50-20-10-5 point distribution was won by an unexpected contender. Girvin opened as an 8/1 longshot and was given even less of a chance considering he had drawn the inside post. But the Joe Sharp trainee was able to baffle the crowd at Fair Grounds over the weekend and capsize the 2017 Risen Star Stakes results.

Guest Suite and Mo Town were the top two choices on the board, garnering 7/2 and 3/2 odds respectively but both barely factored in to the contest at all. Instead, it was Local Hero who opened as the pace setter as a 3/1 outside shot. He was overtaken down the home stretch by Girvin. Untrapped was the other surprise at this race as he ran to second place.

With the very shocking 2017 Risen Star Stakes results, Girvin paid out $18.20, $8.60 and $5.80 with the win. Untrapped was worth $8.00 to place at 8/1 while Local Hero held on for third for a payout of $4.60.

Winning jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. held a long view of the 2017 Risen Star Stakes results, knowing what the future holds for Girvin and other recent winners. “From here on, the races will get tougher but he’s the right kind of horse,” Brian said. “He has a lot of athletic ability and he looks like he’ll keep getting better and better.”

Trainer Joe Sharp was a little more enthusiastic. “It’s unbelievable, I lost my voice,” Sharp noted. “We believed in this horse all along, but you never know how good they are until you stack them up against the competition. We had all the confidence in the world in Brian. But we’re in shock.”

The unexpected 2017 Risen Star Stakes results are a death blow to the candidacy of Mo Town who will look to rally and could very well enter the Louisiana Derby later in the spring. He is no longer considered a Triple Crown contender, and Girvin still has plenty of work to do to build on the momentum he just generated.