Saturday night’s $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) drew a competitive field of a dozen three-year-olds that will head to the starting gate to go 1 1/16 miles at Indiana Downs, one of six stakes races on a stellar 10-race card.
The Dale Romans trained Cherry Wine is the 5-2 morning line favorite, making his first start since running seventh in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 11. The colt was second to Exaggerator in the Preakness (G1) two back and three back ran a decent third in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland.
Hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert will be looking for a record fourth win in the Indiana Derby when he saddles Cupid (3-1), the winner of the rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park back in March. The colt is looking to rebound off two dull efforts, a 10th in the Arkansas Derby (G1) followed by a fifth place finish as the beaten chalk in the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.
Star Hill (6-1) also competed on Belmont Stakes Day, checking in third in the Woody Stephens (G2) going seven furlongs and stretches back out to two turns for trainer Rusty Arnold.
A field of eight will compete in the co-feature, the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G2) for three-year-old fillies. Iowa Oaks (G3) winner Family Tree is the 7-5 morning line favorite.
Among her foes are the Baffert trained Emmzy (3-1) coming off a sharp win against Alw-1 optional claimers, as well as graded stakes placed fillies Dream Dance (4-1) and Dothraki Queen (6-1).
Let’s head out to Indiana Grand for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Indiana Grand Race 9 The Indiana Derby (G2) Post time 9:41 ET
12 Star Hill 6-1
11 Cupid 3-1
5 The Player 6-1
2 Cherry Wine 5-2
Star Hill draws an outside post but looks as if he is going to offer decent value if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line. The colt stalked the early pace, drifted outward and was herded out even farther by the eventual runner up finisher in a third place finish in the Woody Stephens (G2), beaten two lengths for the top spot. The runner up was Fish Trappe Road, who came back to win the Dwyer (G3) on July 9. The 10th place finisher in the Woody Stephens was Mrazek, who returned to win the California bred Thor’s Echo in his next outing at Santa Anita on July 4.
Our top pick now stretches back out to a route here and he ran a decent third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) earlier this year going two turns and was a decent third in the one turn Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day. The George Arnold trainee is looking for his first stakes win and seeking to join three of his sibs that are stakes winners, top earner Leigh Court ($778,793). Jockey Corey Lanerie just needs to get a position going into the first turn from mid pack.
Cupid pressed the early pace and faded to finish a well beaten fifth in the Easy Goer last out as the beaten favorite in a dull, disappointing effort at Belmont Park. The racing strip that day was kind to horses coming from off the pace but it really was not a good effort. He faded to finish 10th in the Arkansas Derby (G1) previously and reportedly came out of the race with a breathing problem. His Rebel (G2) in his first go against winners made him a major early Kentucky Derby contender before the wheels came off.
His trainer Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has won the race three times, most recently with Power Broker in 2013. The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers and figures to be sent early from his outside post, but there is enough early pace in here he likely will not have things easy early.
The Player tracked the early pace and opened up heading for home to bet Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners going a one turn mile at Churchill Downs. He was a good looking maiden winner two back at Churchill in his third career start.
This will be his first start around two turns here for the Buff Bradley barn. He has looked better with each start and looks as if he still has some upside and is going to be a decent price in this spot making his stakes debut.
WIN: Star Hill to win at 9-2 or better.
EXACTA: 11,12 / 2,5,11,12
TRIFECTA: 11,12 / 2,5,11,12 / 2,4,5,11,12