Seven 3-year-olds, all in search of their first graded stakes victory, are signed on for the $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III) July 27, the signature race at Thistledown.
Gary and Mary West's Title Contender, shipping to the Cleveland track from Churchill Downs for trainer Wayne Catalano, could be the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile main track test based on his company lines. The swift son of Pulpit, a $310,000 weanling purchase at Keeneland in November 2010, is coming off a third-place finish in an allowance/optional claiming test at Churchill June 28.
Title Contender was seventh when rank while setting the pace in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) in March at Oaklawn Park. As a 2-year-old, he was in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The dark bay gelding failed to factor in either the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) or the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) after an impressive 2 3/4-length maiden victory over Code West and Ive Struck a Nerve at Santa Anita Park last September.
Winless in four starts this year, Title Contender draws post 4 and will be ridden by leading Thistledown jockey Hector Rosario Jr., who has 46 wins locally with a 28% strike rate through June 23.
The Ohio Derby is the seventh race on the Saturday card with a 3:55 p.m. EDT scheduled post.
Stronach Stables' homebred Handsome Tiger is a son Ghostzapper out of the multiple grade I winner Honey Ryder, a lifetime earner of more than $2.7 million who ran second in the 2008 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT). He comes off an allowance win at six furlongs July 9 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. Jose Corrales trains the chestnut colt, who has won two of his four starts and makes his stakes debut.
The lone stakes winner in the field is Silver Tongued, who shipped in to Thistledown from Turfway Park for trainer Jeff Greenhill July 7 to capture the 1 1/8-mile Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup Stakes for Ohio-breds. The Flatter colt, a half-length victor that day, is owned by Greehill Racing Stables and Sherri Greenhill. Jockey Lori Wydick has the return call from post 2.
David Downard's Braveman, a $150,000 colt by Unbridled's Song, won an allowance race over the synthetic track at Presque Isle Downs in March. He returned to the Pennsylvania track July 14 to finish a rallying second in a one-mile allowance race, his first try beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.
The speedy Mongolian Saturday has produced a pair of easy scores on the Polytrack at Arlington Park for Mongolian Stable and trainer Enebish Ganbat. The Any Given Saturday gelding looks to rebound from a ninth-place finish in the American Derby (gr. IIIT) July 13 in his first try on turf.
Act of Madness, trained by Kathleen O'Connell, and Fiery Marco, a 10-length maiden winner at Thistledown July 19 stretching out from six furlongs, complete the field.
$100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III, Race 7, 3:55 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Fiery Marco (FL), G Laurente, 116, R Vernino
2. Silver Tongued (OH), L A Wydick, 116, J L Greenhill
3. Braveman (KY), P Morales, 116, T E Hamm
4. Title Contender (KY), H L Rosario Jr., 116, W M Catalano
5. Act of Madness (FL), S Spieth. 116, K O'Connell
6. Mongolian Saturday (KY), C Montalvo, 116, E Ganbat
7. Handsome Tiger (KY), M A Ccamaque, 116, J Corrales
All assigned 116 pounds.