Math Wizard will break from the rail in Saturday's Grade 3 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall, Ohio, but his biggest break came in January, when trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. claimed him for $25,000 out of a race at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Math Wizard debuted in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., but then began what appeared to be a career in claiming races. He dropped from a $30,000 tag in his second race to $15,000 in his third. He was claimed in each of his next three starts, all at Gulfstream Park, but his career shifted to higher ground with the last claim, when Joseph took him.
In his second start for Joseph he earned points toward the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) with a fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2). The winner and the runner-up in the Wood, Tacitus and Tax, would go on to finish second and fourth, respectively, in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.
||Long Range Toddy
||Going for Gold
||Luis Rodriguez Castro
Asked what he saw in the Algorithms colt to inspire the claim, Joseph said, "He seemed consistent running six and 6 1/2 [furlongs], so sprinting he was face value. But he was out of a mare who was good going long [Minister's Baby]-she won a graded stake [the 1 1/8-mile G3 Gardenia at Ellis Park]-so we figured he could go long. The Wood was a big race for him. He got into trouble and still did well."
Math Wizard led gate to wire in the race from which Joseph claimed him, and he won by more than 18 lengths. He had won his previous race by 6 3/4 lengths coming from off the pace. In the Ohio Derby, Joseph expects him to do whatever he needs to do for jockey Edgard Zayas, who was aboard for Math Wizard's most recent race, a fourth-place finish in the Oaklawn Park Invitational.
"He can sit where Edgard wants him and not rush," Joseph said. "If the pace is slow, he'll be closer. Edgard knows him. He's been working him. The horse is easy going, an easy horse to be around. He's a kind horse-does what he's asked."
Math Wizard has raced nine times at five different racetracks in four states. Joseph said he handles traveling well, including the trip to JACK Thistledown. He arrived Monday evening from Joseph's base at Gulfstream Park, jogged Tuesday and schooled in the gate and galloped Wednesday.
Global Campaign To Scratch
Director of Racing Patrick Ellsworth announced Wednesday morning that Peter Pan Stakes (G3) winner Global Campaign is an early scratch from the Ohio Derby as the Curlin colt continues to recover from a quarter crack likely initiated when he grabbed a quarter in the Fountain of Youth (G2).
The 10-race Ohio Derby card also features two stakes for Ohio-breds 3 years old and up going 1 1/16 miles: the George Lewis Memorial Stakes for accredited Ohio foals and the J. Wm. Petro Stakes for registered Ohio foals. First post is 1:10 p.m., with the Ohio Derby the ninth race at 5:10 p.m.
Rupp Racing's Owendale, a rallying third in the G1 Preakness, will skip the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 8.
Trainer Brad Cox said the Into Mischief bay, who captured the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland in April, could consider the 85th running of the Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby slated for Saturday, June 22, at Thistledown.
"We're going to bypass on the Belmont. He's great, doing outstanding. Maybe the Ohio Derby [next]," said Cox.
Cox said the 1 ½-mile distance played a part in the decision to skip the third leg of the Triple Crown.
"That and a combination of coming back in three weeks is asking him a lot," said Cox.
Cox, who enjoyed his first Breeders' Cup win in 2018 saddling Monomoy Girl to a thrilling score in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff, will send out the formidable trio of Arklow, Beau Recall and Break Even at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Peter Coneway's Arklow, a 5-year-old son of Arch, rallied from last to finish second, defeated just a neck by Channel Maker, in the Grade 1 Man o' War.
"He's training really well. We're pointing for the Belmont Gold Cup [Grade 2, $400,000] with him right now," said Cox. "It was a fantastic effort in the Man o' War. He ran a great race. That was his first race off the layoff and you really couldn't have asked for much more He's rebounded well. We shipped him back to Churchill and we'll fly him back up on Wednesday before the race on Friday."
Florent Geroux will retain the mount aboard Arklow.
Slam Dunk Racing and Medallion Racing's Beau Recall, a 5-year-old Sir Prancealot mare, has won two of three starts this season including a last-out score in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.
Cox said the talented bay, who boasts six wins and five seconds from 22 starts, is pointed to the Grade 1, $700,000 Longines Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day.
"It was a big win last time," said Cox. "She's already a Grade 2 winner prior to that and she really picked it up again for another Grade 2 win. She's a nose from being a Grade 1 winner [2nd to Dream Dancing in the 2017 Del Mar Oaks] and it would be huge if she could get there. The Just a Game is a prestigious race, and I think if the pace sets up she could be there. I think she suits the Belmont turf course."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be aboard for the return engagement with Beau Recall.
Klein Racing's Break Even is perfect in four career starts including a romping 5 ½-length score in the Grade 2 Eight Belles last out at Churchill Downs to make the grade.
The 3-year-old Country Day filly is targeting the $150,000 Jersey Girl on June 9. Break Even breezed four furlongs in 48.20 on Saturday at Churchill Downs and Cox said the talented dark bay is in good order.
"She's doing fantastic. She had a great breeze on Saturday. She bounced out of it in good shape and will have a slower, maintenance type breeze this weekend and then off to Belmont," said Cox.
Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard for three of Break Even's four wins, will pilot the filly at Belmont.