THISTLEDOWN - G M B Racing and trainer Tom Amoss won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino two years ago with Mo Tom and hope to win again this year with Lone Sailor, but the waters get deeper for Saturday's 84th running. The race regained its graded status last year and the field reflects the change.
2018 Ohio Derby Odds & Entries
Race 9 on Thistledown's Saturday card with a Post Time of 5:10 PM
|1||Takedown||20-1||Luis Colon||Lacey Gaudet|
|2||Flameaway||5-2||Jose Lezcano||Mark Casse|
|3||Lone Sailor||3-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Thomas Amoss|
|4||Caloric||30-1||Ricardo Mejias||Odin Londono, Jr.|
|5||Title Ready||10-1||C.J. McMahon||Steven Asmussen|
|6||Trigger Warning||12-1||Irwin Rosendo||Mike Rone|
|7||Diamond King||6-1||Frankie Pennington||John Servis|
|8||Machismo||20-1||Kevin Radke||Anthony Quartarolo|
|9||O'Kratos||12-1||Channing Hill||Darwin Banach|
|10||Core Beliefs||5-1||Joseph Talamo||Peter Eurton|
|11||Dream Baby Dream||15-1||Ricardo Feliciano||Steven Asmussen|
|12||Last Drop of Wine||30-1||T. Houghton||Anthony Rini|
Third in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old, off the board in the LeComte Stakes (G3) to start his 3-year-old season and second, beaten just a neck, in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Lone Sailor still seeks his first graded win. In his next two starts he was eighth in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness Stakes, beaten just two lengths in the latter.
"It's no secret how Lone Sailor is going to run," said Amoss. "He'll drop back and make his run. We're hoping it sets up for a closer. We're hoping the field holds together and looking for the speed to give him the proper setup. But this is a harder field than when we won the first time.
"He did not have a good trip in the Kentucky Derby," Amoss continued, "and even though he only got beat a couple of lengths in the Preakness, it seemed the proper move now to try one of the Midwest derbies."
In his last two works, Lone Sailor posted back-to-back bullet breezes at Churchill Downs, both four furlongs: June 3 (:47 flat, best of 64 at the distance) and June 11 (:47.20 in the mud, best of 30).
Lone Sailor will ship to JACK Thistledown Friday, with Amoss on hand to saddle him Saturday. Second choice on the morning line at 3-1, he will break from post three with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard.
Trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley won the Ohio Derby in 2012 with Prospective and hope to repeat this year with Flameaway, already twice a graded winner and Saturday's 5-2 morning line favorite. Flameaway won the Bourbon Stakes (G3) as a 2-year-old and collected back-to-back wins in the Kitten's Joy Stakes and the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) to start his sophomore campaign. He continued on the Kentucky Derby trail with strong seconds in both the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) before finishing 13th in the Run for the Roses. Casse knows that finish isn't indicative of the Scat Daddy colt's talent.
"We just threw that one out," said Casse of the rain-soaked Kentucky Derby. "The track was bad that day. We gave him a little break after that race and he has trained really well since.
"I like his post position (2) for Saturday," Casse continued. "I think the horse to beat is Lone Sailor. I expect my horse to be fairly close (to the lead). We could see some speed from Title Ready, Steve Asmussen's horse, and Trigger Warning is coming in off sprints, so he could show some speed. Looks like it'll be a very good, very competitive race."
In his most recent work, Flameaway breezed four furlongs in :48 flat at Churchill Downs Saturday, eighth fastest of 103 moves at that distance that day.
In his five career starts, Peter Eurton's trainee Core Beliefs has never been out of the money despite a troubled trip and competition that includes the very top of the sophomore class. After breaking his maiden at Santa Anita in his third start, Core Beliefs next ran third behind eventual Triple Crown winner Justify and multiple Grade 1 winner Bolt d'Oro in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). In his most recent start, the Peter Pan Stakes (G3), he finished second despite stumbling out of the gate and shying a furlong from home while on the lead.
"In the Peter Pan he made the lead from the one hole, but that stumble didn't help him because they were four abreast," Eurton said. "He was pushed pretty hard the whole way."
A Kentucky-bred son of Quality Road, Core Beliefs will break from post 10 for the Ohio Derby, which suits Eurton just fine.
"I actually like the 10 post," Eurton said. "It's a pretty good run to the first turn there. Obviously three or four others also have speed."
Core Beliefs prepped for the Ohio Derby with a work on Sunday, going five furlongs handily in 1:01 flat at Santa Anita before shipping out to northern Ohio Monday. He walked the shedrow Tuesday and will be sent out to gallop Wednesday.
Top West Coast jockey Joe Talamo is also making the trip to Ohio to ride Core Beliefs for the first time.
Several of the dozen 3 year olds who will line up for Saturday's Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino have already run at the race's 1 1/8-mile distance. A few - those who tried the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes - have run longer without hitting the board.
Only one, Diamond King, has a win at the Ohio Derby distance.
The first time Diamond King tried two turns didn't help trainer John Servis gauge his affinity for routing; the Quality Road colt lost his rider heading into the first turn of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in his third start. He answered the question three starts later by winning the Federico Tesio, pressuring the early leader and then withstanding pressure himself. Whether he uses that speed Saturday is up to regular rider Frankie Pennington.
"He'll do anything," said Servis, "so we'll leave it up to Frankie. He'll see how he breaks and go from there. We know he can get the distance, and he has learned to settle. Our plan for him is to have a good year, put some money in the bank and try to gain some value for him as a stallion, so we're looking at some of these derbies in the Midwest."
Diamond King put in a work Tuesday, going four furlongs handily in :52.30 at Parx, before shipping to JACK Thistledown Thursday morning.
O'Kratos has a couple of wins at 1 1/16 miles, including the Marine Stakes (G3) at Woodbine in his most recent start. The primary question for Darwin Banach's trainee isn't distance; it's surface. The colt has raced exclusively on turf or synthetic surfaces.
"I'm a big fan of synthetic because there are less fatalities and I'm not comfortable running horses on muddy or sloppy tracks," Banach said. "But there are absolutely no straight 3-year-old races on synthetic right now. Woodbine has a dirt training track and his last three works were on dirt. He certainly works as well over the dirt as he does the synthetic; his last work he went four furlongs in 46 (June 17, best of 20). We've been working him with two horses in front of him to get him accustomed to kickback."
While O'Kratos has speed, he doesn't have to have the lead, Banach said. "He's versatile, so what we do will depend on how the race goes. From the nine post he'll probably drop down to save ground and get comfortable."
Channing Hill will ride O'Kratos Saturday for the first time.
O'Kratos "is happier if he gets to go out and do something," Banach said, so he will jog over the JACK Thistledown track Friday and Saturday mornings after vanning in overnight Friday. "I've never had a horse who loves to train as much as this one. He doesn't like to stand around. As soon as he sees the bridle, he's screaming to go."
The Ohio Derby is the ninth of 10 races Saturday. The feature is supported by the George Lewis Memorial, 1 1/8 miles for accredited Ohio foals 3 years old and up, and the black type J. Wm Petro Memorial Handicap, 1 1/16 miles for registered Ohio fillies and mares 3 years old and up.
To accommodate the 10-race card, Saturday has a special first post time of 1:10 p.m. ET. The Ohio Derby is scheduled for 5:10 p.m.