The field for the $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III) June 4 at Thistledown is beginning to sort itself out, according to director of racing Bill Couch. This will be the 77th running of the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds, Ohio’s richest race and the state’s only graded stakes.
is expected to make his stakes debut and his first at two turns off a gritty maiden special win at Belmont on April 30. The Chad Brown trainee was a strong second in his career debut April 3, a maiden special at Gulfstream in which he was beaten less than a length. He followed with the Belmont win, stalking high-speed fractions, taking a brief lead, losing the advantage, and then coming back inside the final furlong.
“I want to keep him against horses his own age,” Brown said, “and right now that means running in stakes. He’s bred for distance (Pulpit—Hidden Cat by Storm Cat) and he trains like he can get two turns, so I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Trainer Laura Jackson expects to send Valient Tenobob
, who won the one-mile Michigan Futurity and has missed the money only once in five starts, though he did not fare well at very long odds last out in the Tom Ridge sprint at Presque Isle.
broke his maiden by seven lengths in a Thistledown romp and trainer Ray Vernino expects to bring him back to Northern Ohio for his first stakes attempt.
is “90 percent” probable, with Gerald Bennett moving his canny claim to stakes company. Bennett claimed the Maryland-bred colt for Double C Stable at Tampa Bay Downs in April and nine days later put him immediately into an optional allowance race. He finished second in that effort and three weeks later won at the same level, both at Tampa Bay.
Donnie Von Hemel is strongly considering the Ohio Derby for multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed Caleb's Posse
, who was second in the Rebel (gr. II) two starts back before a troubled break took him out of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) early.
Also strongly considered is Merrill Scherer’s Goodtimehadbyall
, an allowance winner at Churchill before finishing sixth in the Tom Ridge.
Several others remain on the fence.