Trainer Doug O’Neill looks to win the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3) in back to back years when he sends out Blame the Rider on Saturday night at Indiana Grand.
O’Neill won the race last year with Irap, who was ridden by Mario Gutierrez. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert leads all trainers with four winners in this race but did not ship any runners for this year’s edition.
Don’t Blame the Rider will be ridden by Julian Leparoux for the first time and will break from the two post at morning line odds of 6-1. The colt was second in the Rainbow on turf at Santa Anita in his last outing.
A field of nine will go to the post led by 6-5 morning line favorite King Zachary. The Dale Romans trainee won the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs in his last outing.
The Indiana Derby is one of six stakes on the 10-race card at Indian Grand on Saturday night with a first post of 5:30 ET.
The co-feature is the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) which drew a field of eight three-year-old fillies that will go 1 11/6 miles on the main track.
Talk Veuve to Me is the even money favorite on the morning line. The Rodolphe Brisset trainee ran second in the Eight Belles (G2) and Acorn (G1) in her last two starts.
Let’s head out to Indiana Grand for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Indiana Grand Race 9 The Indiana Derby G3 Post time 9:48 ET
2 Blame the Rider 6-1
8 King Zachary 6-5
4 Dark Vader 8-1
6 Axelrod 5-1
Blame the Rider was cross entered in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park and the barn elected to ship him here to return to dirt. The colt set the early fractions and could not go with the winner in a runner up finish in the Rainbow at Santa Anita going nine furlongs on turf. O’Neill thought enough of this guy after a third in his third career start to try him in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) while still a maiden.
He was not a threat in an eighth-place finish and graduated two starts later on turf going a mile. The $320,000 Ocala purchase is by Jimmy Creed out of the stakes winner Shiny Sheet ($543,422) who has dropped seven other runners, all winners, top earner Sunshine Rambler ($281,839). O’Neill won this race last year with Irap.
King Zachary ran huge winning the Matt Winn (G3) last out at Churchill Downs by 4 ¾ lengths and earning the top last out speed fig which was 19 points higher than his previous career best. He graduated in his third career start at Gulfstream Park going two turns and then was sixth in a nine horse field in the Wood Memorial (G2)
The colt was a $550,000 Keeneland purchase by Curlin out of a Giant’s Causeway mare that has dropped one other winner. If he runs back to his last effort he will be tough to beat but if he regresses he could have his hands full at a very short price.
Dark Vader bobbled coming out of the gate, was sent up to press the early pace and he finished gamely in a third-place finish in the Easy Goer, beaten a neck and a nose. The runner up Rugbyman came back to finish fourth in the Dwyer (G3) in his next outing. The Eurton trainee ran third in the Lewis in his three-year-old debut and then was fifth in the Sunland Derby (G3).
He earned a solid number beating Alw-1 optional claimers two back at Santa Anita before shipping to New York for the Easy Goer. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace. Decent value if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
WIN: #2 to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 2,8 / 2,4,6,8
TRIFECTA: 2,8 / 2,4,6,8 / 1,2,4,6,8