The $500,000 dollar Grade 2 Ohio Derby will be contested Saturday at Thistledown Park.
The 1 1/8 mile race originally drew a field of eight, but there has been one scratch.
It should be pointed out that in Ohio the medication Lasix is allowed in Stakes races.
The race is slated as the final event on a card of eleven, with a scheduled Post Time of 5:35. Here then, is a look at the field.
1. BARESE [ML 9-2] Trainer: Michael Maker. Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche. He is the first of two New York-breds in the field, and both are trained by Maker. BARESE Won his first three starts including a pair of state-bred stakes at Aqueduct. That prompted Maker to try him on the Kentucky Derby trail, where he finished 5th beaten by only five lengths in the Wood Memorial (G2) after staying close to the pace. When the Triple Crown series ended, the Wood had produced the Winners of the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. That said, the nine-furlong distance of the Ohio Derby might be too far, but he will get Lasix for the first time.
2. BRIGADIER GENERAL SCRATCHED
3. DROPPIN G’S [ML 8-1] Trainer: Jerry Antonulk. Jockey: Malcolm Franklin. Has the most experience in this field, with 10 starts. His highest level of success came in an Allowance at Turfway Park on the Tapeta surface in March. He made his first seven starts at Turfway and began his career getting claimed for $15,000 and then $20,000. Most recently was 4th in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill two weeks ago. Seems Tapeta might be his best surface.
4. ETHEREAL ROAD [ML 4-1] Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Rafael Bejarano. Won his most recent start in the Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness weekend. He made a strong, wide rally and drew off to Win that race, which was restricted to non-Winners of a Stake, by almost five lengths. He was, of course, the last scratch from the Kentucky Derby, allowing the eventual Winner RICH STRIKE a spot in the gate. Hall of Fame trainer Lukas also considered running him in the Belmont Stakes, but this Ohio Derby field seems a more suitable start.
5. WHITE ABARRIO [ML 7-2] Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. Making his first start since running 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at odds of 15-1. In the Derby, he was unable to get into his usual stalking position in the traffic of the 20-horse field and was never a threat. Remember, WHITE ABARRIO went into the Run For The Roses after two impressive Victories on the Derby trail in the Florida Derby (G1) and the Holy Bull (G3). All of his four Wins were at Gulfstream Park. He will run with first-time Lasix.
6. PINEAPPLE MAN [ML 10-1] Trainer: Michael Maker. Jockey: T.D. Houghton. The second New York-bred in this field, and he made all five of his starts against state-breds. He broke his Maiden in his third start at Aqueduct in February and since then was 2nd twice in Allowance races while racing as part of the early pace.
7. TAWNY PORT [ML 3-1] Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr. Is one of three Graded-Stakes Winners in this field. He Won the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in April and went from there to the First Saturday In May, where he finished 7th after being 5th at the top of the stretch. In the Derby, he saved ground and was able to rally from 11 lengths behind. He Won the first two starts of his career at Turfway Park and was 2nd in the Jeff Ruby (G3) there. Brad Cox runners have been running well in Stakes races across the country the past few weeks.
8. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY [ML 6-1] Trainer: Kenny McPeek. Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Won twice on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and then was 11th in Derby after breaking slowly and having to steady. Subsequently, he was moved from trainer Brian Lynch to McPeek. This will be the first start for CLASSIC CAUSEWAY in the new barn, while also getting a new rider. He is the only horse in this race running without Lasix. He won both of those Derby preps in Florida racing on the front end.
SUMMARY: The Ohio Derby offered up a $500,000 dollar purse this year in order to attract a quality field. Mission accomplished.
CLASSIC CAUSEWAY, TAWNY PORT, and WHITE ABARRIO were all Winners on the Kentucky Derby trail and went on to run in the big race on the First Saturday In May. That makes them the main Win contenders along with ETHEREAL ROAD, who was a last-minute scratch from the Derby.
It’s worth noting that all of the field will race with Lasix except CLASSIC CAUSEWAY. WHITE ABARRIO and BARESE will run with that medication for the first time.
A few horses in the field prefer to be forwardly placed but will not run too fast too early. Which means the pace scenario should be fair for all.
THE PLAY: #5 WHITE ABARRIO owns useful tactical speed and the class advantage as the Florida Derby (G1) Winner. No other horse here shows a Grade 1 Victory. With those points in mind, WHITE ABARRIO is the top selection and key.
On the rail, #1 BARESE has a shot at hitting the board. His 5th-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct against MO DONEGAL and EARLY VOTING is better than it looks on paper considering he went wide on both turns.
#7 TAWNT PORT Won the Lexington Stakes (G3) against slightly weaker competition before finishing 7th in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.
Even #8 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY deserves some consideration. After two bad races in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, he could rebound in this Grade 3 race under his new trainer Ken McPeek.
All that said, DRB will do a Trifecta key with the #5 on top, using the #1-4-7-8 underneath.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.