Pleasant Prince, making his first start since the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), is the 6-5 morning line favorite for the $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III) at Thistledown July 31.
Runner-up by a nose to Ice Box in the Florida Derby (gr. I) this spring, Pleasant Prince heads a field of 10 3-year-olds in the 76th Ohio Derby, the only graded stakes of the season at Thistledown, which is located in North Randall, Ohio, about 10 miles southeast of Cleveland. This year's Ohio Derby is reduced in purse from $150,000 in 2009 and has also been dropped a level from its previous grade II rating. Contested at 1 1/8 miles since 1965, this year's renewal will be at 1 1/16 miles.
The Ohio Derby is scheduled as the last of 13 races on the program with a probable post of 5:35 p.m. EDT.
Trained by Wesley Ward for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Pleasant Prince was pinched back at the start of the May 15 Preakness at Pimlico and was never able to get involved, finishing 11th. The Florida-bred son of Indy King--Archduchess, by Pleasant Tap, has been working steadily at Keeneland and turned in a sharp :58 2/5 drill for five furlongs at Thistledown July 24.
"He's doing fantastic," Ward said. "That was a great work that he had at Thistledown last Saturday. All systems are go. We're ready for them."
Alex Solis takes over on the chestnut colt and they will break from post 7. Pleasant Prince is winless in seven starts this year and has only a maiden victory in 10 lifetimes races.
Jay Em Ess Stable's Worldly, coming off a neck defeat when second in the Northern Dancer Dancer Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs June 12, is the 5-2 second choice for trainer Paul McGee.
Like the favorite, Worldly is winless in 2010 after six starts and is 1-for-10 lifetime, his victory coming in a maiden race at Churchill Downs last November. Top Thistledown rider Luis Gonzalez rides the A.P. Indy colt from post 9.
Mykindacandy, coming off back-to-back victories at Churchill, is the 9-2 third choice for trainer Bobby Barnett. Owned by Phyllis Newcomb, the Candy Ride colt defeated a first-level allowance field in his first try at one mile in front-running style July 4. This will be the stakes debut for Mykindacandy, who broke his maiden by 9 1/4 lengths at six furlongs June 18. Slotted in post 5, Miguel Mena rides for the first time.
Dixie Band, from the Wayne Catalano barn for owners Darrell and Evelyn Yates, is the only previous stakes winner in the field. The son of Dixie Union won the Spectacular Bid Stakes and the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) in consecutive starts at Arlington Park last summer. The bay gelding earned his first win in three starts in 2010 when her rallied from last to tally by 3 1/2 lengths in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance race at Churchill July 4.
Listed at 10-1 on the morning line, Dixe Band has won four of seven starts lifetime and drew the far outside post with Shane Sellers to ride.
Four entrants -- Broke by Noon, Chocho Jr., Scottkeith'skitten, and Capitol Appeal -- are stabled at Thistledown. Max Silverhammer, fourth in the Northrn Dancer, and three-time winner Slewzoom complete the field.
$100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III, Race 13, 5:35 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Max Silverhammer (KY), S Gonzalez, Jr., 118, W J Denzik Jr., 15/1
2. Broke by Noon (FL), E Oro, 118, W Uhacz, 30/1
3. Slewzoom (IL), S Laviolette, 118, J C Wainwright, 15/1
4. Chocho Jr. (KY), R Rechy, 118, J L Lopez, 50/1
5. Mykindacandy (KY), M Mena, 118, B C Barnett, 9/2
6. Scottkeith'skitten (KY), C P Pilares, 118, R C Faulkner, 20/1
7. Pleasant Prince (FL), A O Solis, 118, W A Ward, 6/5
8. Capitol Appeal (KY), R D Allen Jr., 118, G S Bennett, 20/1
9. Worldly (KY), L A Gonzalez, 118, P J McGee, 5/2
10. Dixie Band (KY), S J Sellers, 120, W M Catalano, 10/1