By Scott Dick
Derby Day Racing
This Saturday, Indiana Grand will host its biggest day of racing which is highlighted by the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3). The race card for Saturday is loaded with full fields, over $1 million dollars in purse money, and several excellent betting opportunities, including an early 50-cent pick-5, (races 1 through 5), early pick-4, (races 2 through 5), and a late, all-stakes pick-4 (races 5 through 8).
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to take a swing at the all-stakes Pick 4, which begins in race 5 with the $100,000 Michael Schaefer Mile.
Seeking the Soul is a heavy 3-5 morning line favorite — and deservedly so. This son of Perfect Soul won the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs last November before competing in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) against the likes of Gun Runner. He’ll be making his first start since the Pegasus Cup for trainer Dallas Stewart. He’s been training forwardly, but he might be compromised by the pace. I’ll be using him on my ticket, but I’ll be trying to beat him with a few others.
Pioneer Spirit is 6-1 on the morning line for the lightning-hot duo of Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. The Kentucky Oaks (G1)-winning trainer/jockey combo are hoping this son of Malibu Moon will find Indiana Grand as friendly as Monomoy Girl did in her debut. Pioneer Spirit boasts the highest career Beyer speed figure (106) in the race and he might be sitting alone on the lead and Indiana Grand tends to be speed favoring — my top selection.
Guest Suite is 8-1 for trainer Neil Howard. This Quality Road gelding loves the mile distance. He has a bit of tactical speed. Jockey Robby Albarado will look to put him in the race a bit earlier than normal. I envision him sitting third or fourth, around four lengths off the pace. If the speed comes back, I believe he’ll get first run on closers Seeking the Soul and Lookin at Lee.
Race six is the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff going 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. Lovely Bernadette is 8-5 on the morning line for trainer Bernie Flint and jockey Florent Geroux. This daughter of Wilburn loves to win. She’s 3-for-4 at the distance and 8-for-17 lifetime. She won last year’s $200,000 Indiana Grand Stakes, so she knows the course well; she’ll be tough to beat.
Queen Caroline loves Indiana Grand. Like fellow competitor Lovely Bernadette, she also won the Indiana Grand Stakes, albeit back in 2016. She’s seen nothing but stakes company in her last eight starts for trainer Michael Matz. She’s 8-1 on the morning line with Robby Albarado in the irons. She’s tactical enough to be close, but has a good kick. What’s more, she’s a two-time stakes winner on the Indiana Grand turf course and that’s enough for me to make her my top selection.
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Lovely Loyree is 4-1 on the morning line for trainer Michelle Boyce. She’s a classy daughter of Cactus Ridge. In her career she’s knocked heads with the likes of Tepin and La Coronel. She has good early speed and I believe she will be sitting right off the flank of Hachi. Jockey Fernando De La Cruz has great hands and is strong with speed horses.
The wild card of the race is Hachi. The Chilean bred is 15-1 on the morning line for white-hot trainer Brad Cox. I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll be sent to the lead. I’ll be using her as a longshot play to steal this on the front end.
Race seven is the Warrior Veterans Stakes run at the 1 1/16 mile distance on the turf for older males.
This race is wide open. I will be going deep in here, hoping to catch a longshot. Number 2, Siem Riep, is 9-2 on the morning line. He loves Indiana Grand (2-for-2) and boasts a record of five wins in nine starts on the turf. He’s my top pick. I’ll also be using #3 Swagger Jagger, #5 My Bariley, #6 Convict Pike, #7 Dalarna, #9 Dot Matrix, 11 Lanier and #12 Cammack.
The final leg of the pick-4 is race 8, the $200,00 Indiana Oaks (G3). The sophomore fillies will be going the 1 1/16-mile distance on the dirt. I’ll be ending my ticket with a single.
Simply put, this race goes through Talk Vueve to Me. This daughter of Violence is even-money on the morning line for trainer Rodolphe Brisset and jockey Julien Leparoux. She just went toe-to-toe with the Kentucky Oaks (G1) champion, Monomoy Girl, in the Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park, where she finished a respectable second, only beaten two lengths. If she can rate, she’ll win this going away and she might be good enough to run them off their feet if she chooses to go to the lead. We’ll be looking to pop bottles with Talk Vueve To Me capping off a winning pick-4 score!
Recapping my ticket, I’m betting 1,2,3 with 1,4,8,9 with 2,3,5,6,7,9,11,12 with 5 = $48.00.
Following the Indiana Oaks is the highlight of racing in the Hoosier state: the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3). We’re going to finish off our wagering day with a three-horse exacta box.
King Zachary is coming off the best race of his career in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Dowms where he demolished the highly touted Ax Man. He’s going to be tough to beat here for trainer Dale Romans and jockey Robby Albarado.
I’m going to add a little spice to my exacta box with Dark Vader, who is 8-1 on the morning line. Corey Nakatani gets the leg up for trainer Peter Eurton. He’s improving and has tactical speed I will be using him.
Finally, I’ll take a shot with Title Ready. This son of More Than Ready looks to be sitting on a big race. I think he’ll be flying late for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.
My $5 exacta box will consist of 4,7,8 = $30.00.