Caleb's Posse won the 2011 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

Caleb's Posse won the 2011 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

J J Zamaiko

Ohio Derby Heads Thistledown Stakes Schedule

Ohio track switches 10 of its 17 stakes to Friday from Saturday.

All 17 of the stakes presented by Thistledown last year will return for the 2012 meet, including Ohio’s only graded stakes, the Ohio Derby (gr. III). 

Altogether, the schedule offers $907,000 in purses, unchanged from last year. Also like last year, all stakes except the Ohio Derby are restricted to registered Ohio foals or accredited Ohio foals. New this year, however, is the switch to Friday for 10 of the 17 stakes races.

Among those moved to Friday is the "Best of Ohio" series Oct. 12. “Moving these stakes to Friday will give the state program a simulcast boost by taking them off New York and Kentucky Breeders’ Cup preview Saturdays,” said racing secretary Bill Couch.

Another race switched to Friday is the $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup for 3-year-old registered Ohio foals. The 1 1/8-mile race will run July 6, kicking off a three-stakes weekend that includes the Ohio Derby and the Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes, both July 7. The Ohio Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race, carries the meet’s largest purse at $100,000.

The three-stakes weekend provides opportunity for a proposed all-stakes Pick 3 and a double involving the Cleveland Gold Cup on Friday and the Ohio Derby on Saturday.

The winner of last year’s Ohio Derby was Caleb's Posse , who later won two grade I stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He was second, three votes back, to Animal Kingdom  in the Eclipse Award tally for best 3-year-old male.

“Last year’s edition of the Ohio Derby will be a tough act to follow,” Couch said. “I’ll be scanning the country for horses of the caliber of Caleb’s Posse, those whose owners are looking for late-summer graded events with an eye on the Breeders’ Cup. I’ll be looking for horses that, like ‘Posse early last year, are diamonds in the rough—young promising horses on the improve.”

The $50,000 Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes has been shortened this year from six furlongs to 5 1/2 furlongs. The Kindergarten was last run at the shorter distance in 2003.

Comprising the entire 2012 Thistledown stakes schedule, all run on dirt, are:

May 4        $50,000 Dr. T. F. Classen Memorial, 3yo and up fillies and mares, 6 furlongs
May 26      $50,000 Michael F. Rowland Memorial, 3yo and up, 6 furlongs
May 28      $50,000 Angenora, 3yo and up fillies and mares, 6 furlongs
June 16     $50,000 J. Wm. Petro Memorial, 3yo and up fillies and mares, 8.5 furlongs
July 6         $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup, 3yo, 9 furlongs
July 7         $50,000 Cleveland Kindergarten, 2yo, 5.5 furlongs
July 7         $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III), 3yo, 8.5 furlongs
July 13       $50,000 George Lewis Memorial, 3yo and up, 9 furlongs
Aug. 18      $50,000 Honey Jay, 3yo and up, 6 furlongs
Aug. 31      $50,000 Miss Ohio, 2yo fillies, 6 furlongs
Sept. 1       $50,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial, 3yo and up fillies and mares, 9 furlongs
Sept. 7       $50,000 Governor’s Buckeye Cup, 3yo and up, 10 furlongs
Oct. 12       $75,000 Best of Ohio Distaff, 3yo and up fillies and mares, 9 furlongs
Oct. 12       $75,000 Best of Ohio Endurance, 3yo and up, 10 furlongs
Oct. 12       $50,000 Best of Ohio Sprint, 3yo and up, 6 furlongs
Oct. 12       $75,000 John W. Galbreath, 2yo fillies, 8.5 furlongs
Oct. 12       $75,000 Juvenile, 2yo, 8.5 furlongs

The 2012 Thistledown meet begins May 4 and runs through Nov. 17. The Cleveland-area track will offer live racing Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from opening day and add Thursdays to the schedule beginning Sept. 6. Post times remain under discussion.