By Will Robbins
Cherry Wine headlines a field of twelve 3-year-olds in the $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II) July 16 at Indiana Grand Race Course. Hot off the Triple Crown trail, the son of Paddy O'Prado is seeking his first graded stakes victory for owners Frank Shoop, Frank Jones Jr., and William Pacella.
The Dale Romans trainee is the morning line favorite at 5/2 and will have Luis Saez in the irons from post 2. After failing to make the field for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the gray made a name for himself edging out Nyquist for runner-up behind Exaggerator in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Cherry Wine ships to Indiana for his first start since finishing 7th in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (gr. I), beaten 9 lengths.
"The Belmont is the Belmont. It's a classic race. He ran mid-pack and didn't embarrass himself. But he probably doesn't want to go a mile and a half," Romans said. "I really didn't think I'd run him back this quick. I was going to give him a little bit more time, run in the Haskell or Jim Dandy, but we're right here at home, in our backyard. This is where some horses will step up and start looking like the top horses for the last half of the year."
Romans will also run Cherry Wine's stablemate Takeittotheedge, a Broken Vow colt who is making his second start for Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister's Bakster Farm since sustaining an injury after stumbling badly at the start of the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (gr. I). He made his return finishing third in a June 26 Churchill Downs allowance behind Forevamo and Pinson—both were nominated to run in the Indiana Derby, but neither passed the entry box.
"He ripped part of his foot off," Romans explained. "It took him a long time to get back to the races. I just think he's a horse with a lot of talent and worth taking a shot at a good 3-year-old race. He can run."
Three-time Indiana Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert will send Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith's grade II Rebel winner Cupid to this year's 22nd running. He shares a 124 pound co-highweight assignment with grade III winner Cocked and Loaded, who finished 4th in the Ohio Derby in his last start. Lackluster performances in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Easy Goer Stakes derailed the Tapit colt's momentum, which he looks to regain this weekend in his second start since undergoing throat surgery for an entrapped epiglottis.
"This is a very important spot for him to regain form. The last two races were a disappointment. It was very surprising he didn't run well," Baffert said. "His last race was too fast for him and he was chasing, so he should be better off going two turns. This is a great spot for him to get back to where he was in the Rebel."
Buff Bradley's The Player, bred and owned in partnership with Carl Hurst, will make his stakes debut after consecutive wins at Churchill. This is Bradley's first Indiana Derby entrant since winning Hoosier Park's 2004 edition with Brass Hat.
"He's doing really well. We're all excited about him," Bradley said of the Street Hero colt. "We can turn him off a bit early on, and then let him finish. He's got a pretty good kick."
Indiana Grand's Saturday card boasts six stakes races worth over $1 million, including the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (gr. II), which rounds out the duo of 3-year-old showcases.
Indiana Grand, Saturday, July 16, 2016, Race 9 Indiana Grand, Saturday, July 16, 2016, Race 8
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Discreet Lover (FL) Jose Luis Flores 117 Uriah St. Lewis 20/1 2 2Cherry Wine (KY) Luis Saez 117 Dale L. Romans 5/2 3 3Pilot House (KY) Richard A. Bracho 117 Thomas M. Amoss 10/1 4 4Takeittotheedge (KY) Miguel Mena 117 Dale L. Romans 15/1 5 5The Player (KY) Shaun Bridgmohan 121 William B. Bradley 6/1 6 6Cocked and Loaded (KY) Willie Martinez 124 Larry Rivelli 30/1 7 7Seeking Blame (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 117 Dallas Stewart 15/1 8 8Whateverybodywants (IL) Robby Albarado 121 Kellyn Gorder 12/1 9 9Torrontes (KY) Albin Jimenez 117 Kellyn Gorder 20/1 10 10Call the Colonel (KY) Santo Sanjur 121 Jon M. Cowan 20/1 11 11Cupid (KY) Rafael Bejarano 124 Bob Baffert 3/1 12 12Star Hill (KY) Corey J. Lanerie 117 George R. Arnold, II 6/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Dream Dance (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 119 Neil J. Howard 4/1 2 2Dothraki Queen (KY) Fernando De La Cruz 121 Kenneth G. McPeek 6/1 3 3Mines and Magic (KY) Robby Albarado 121 Victoria H. Oliver 10/1 4 4Missalaney (IL) Marcelino Pedroza 115 David H. Hinsley 30/1 5 5Sweet Legacy (KY) Corey J. Lanerie 115 George R. Arnold, II 20/1 6 6Emmzy (KY) Rafael Bejarano 121 Bob Baffert 3/1 7 7Family Tree (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 121 Wayne M. Catalano 7/5 8 8Walkabout (KY) Albin Jimenez 115 Ian R. Wilkes 10/1
Indiana Grand, Saturday, July 16, 2016, Race 9
Indiana Grand, Saturday, July 16, 2016, Race 8