HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 24, 2022 – The national spotlight shifts to mid-America Saturday as Thistledown renews the mile and-one-eighth $500,000 Grade 3 Ohio Derby.
The race goes as the 11th on the card, scheduled for 5:35 pm EDT, and will complete an All-Stakes Pick 4 replete with every Ohio-bred that can make the grade, literally and figuratively.
Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Mother Goose also will be included as part of our weekend stakes analysis package.
The Ohio Derby sequence begins with registered Ohio-bred three year olds in the listed Cleveland Gold Cup, followed by G Lewis Memorial, open to all divisions.
The heart of the program begins with the $250,000 Lady Jacqueline for fillies three years old and up at the same 9-furlong trip as the Derby.
And with that kind of money on the line, know that a few big-name riders will be coming to town for the big-money pots.
Three of the eight Ohio Derby players are familiar, especially since Classic Causeway, Tawny Port and White Abarrio all last raced in the Derby that’s run at Churchill Downs in May.
D Wayne Lukas, who declared Belmont Stakes possibility Ethereal Road from that 12-furlong marathon, entered his Quality Road colt in Saturday’s mile and an eighth.
When last seen, Ethereal Road (4-1) was kicking equine tails and manes by dominating the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard. Rafael Bejarano will be in town for the ride.
Favoritism is expected to come down to two of the three Derby runners. Tawny Port (3-1) ran very well from post 18 at Churchill, making a mid-race run before tiring late, but was beaten a mere 4-3/4 lengths. Irad Ortiz Jr. will replace Ricardo Santana Jr.
White Abarrio (7-2), beaten 20 lengths in Louisville, finished ahead of only four rivals but never had a chance, racing about 8 to 10-wide throughout. Regular rider Tyler Gaffalione once again will pilot the Florida Derby winner.
Classic Causeway will be making his first start for trainer Ken McPeek. The speedster actually did well to finish 11th in the Derby following a tardy break and then having to check out of close quarters. Stable rider Brian Hernandez inherits the mount on the recent fast worker.
GRADE 3 OHIO DERBY Race 11
The Skinny: With a long run to the first turn, there is enough speed on paper to set things up for the likely favorites. Given position and style, White Abarrio (PP 5) likely will get first run. Irad probably will have Tawny Port (PP 7) sit right off his flanks.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Tawny Port
THE VALUE BET: White Abarrio to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box Tawny Port and White Abarrio. Exacta and Trifecta Wheel White Abarrio and Tawny Port first and second with each other and Ethereal Road and Barese (9-2) second and third. *Superfecta players may add Classic Causeway third and fourth*
CLEVELAND GOLD CUP Race 8
The Skinny: An eight horse field with half coming out of the same race. Trips made a difference last time and likely will again. Exactly what will happen is why races are run. Country Club Bobby (3-1) was very game to win it, between horses entering the turn before outbattling horses on either sides in the lane. But Rumble Strip Ron (7-2) and Tantrum (4-1) each had their moments and can easily win this Pick 4 spread affair.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Country Club Bobby (3-1)
VALUE-WIN BET: Rumble Strip Ron to win at 3-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box ‘Bobby‘, ‘Ron’ and Tantrum. Superfecta Wheel exacta horses first and second, with each other and Stunt Man, Silence and Sammy Smile third and fourth.
GEORGE LEWIS MEMORIAL STAKES Race 9
The Skinny: Spread the second leg, same as the first. Full field of 13, in which we give seven of these a good chance. Ultimately, the tote will be our guide. (Really shouldn’t take lower than 4-1 on any of these). Aunt Bee (5-1) broke slowly and made two moves while racing wide throughout.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Aunt Bee
VALUE-WIN BET: Taking Aunt Bee to win at 4-1 or greater and/or Big Truck (10-1) to win at 6-1 or more
EXOTICA: Exacta Box ‘Bee’, ‘Truck’ and Authentic Cowboy (7-2). Superfecta Wheel three three exacta horses first, second and third with each other, adding Ohio Eagle (20-1), Relish The Ride (8-1), First Song (9-2) and Mobil Solution (4-1) third and fourth.
LADY JACQUELINE STAKES Race 10
The Skinny: This mile and an eighth test for $250K attracted national riders Bejarano, Gaffalione, Hernandez Jr. and Carmouche and features several successful graded stakes, including Army Wife (3-1), Crazy Beautiful (7-2) and Maracuja (4-1). Crazy Beautiful is working like her old self but workouts are not races; she’ll have to prove she’s back. Army Wife, making second start since prep return, was third in two Grade 1s last year–the Alabama being one–and Maracuja won the CCA Oaks in Saratoga last summer.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Army Wife
VALUE-WIN BET: Army Wife to win at 5-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box Army Wife, Crazy Beautiful and Maracuja. Trifecta Key Army Wife first and second with ‘Crazy and ‘Maracuja, adding Microcap second and third.
G2 MOTHER GOOSE Race 8
The Skinny: No, not SoCal but New York and a field of five in a prestigious long-in-the-tooth filly stakes. But only one appears overmatched then again strange things happen in small fields. We chose Juju’s Map (1-1) over Echo Zulu in last year’s Juvenile Fillies and given her recent return, we figure she will advance here. Shahama (9-5) made her U.S. debut in the KY Oaks and was going well late following a poor start; likely to advance. Gerrymander (5-1) got bounced around pretty good in a rapid 7F return at Churchill, made a good mid-race move but tired as if in need of it. Cox v Todd v Chad. Some things never change.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Juju’s Map
VALUE-WIN BET: Would take even money on the favorite if available
EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta key wheels: Juju’s Map over Gerrymander and Shahama
CHICAGO STAKES Race 9
The Skinny: This 7-filly, 7F sprint is a tricky read and only one would be completely shocking. The local favorites, Sconsin (2-1) and Bells the One (7-2), are big-time CD lovers. Lady Rocket (5-2) and Pennybaker (8-1) ran out of their skins last time. But we’ve been soft on Four Graces (8-1) since we broke her maiden on debut at Gulfstream in 2019. She, too, likes Louisville and loves seven-eighths.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Lady Rocket
VALUE-WIN BET: Four Graces to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA. Key Box Four Graces in Exactas and Trifectas with Lady Rocket and Pennybreaker. Superfecta people must use the two locals named above
Exotic plays are recommended at minimums available, straight wagers are $2 units. *Superfecta play added 6:29 pm, June 23*
this is a live column that will be upgraded throughout the weekend