With a full field of 12 horses signed on, this year's edition of the Ohio Derby shapes up as a challenging test for a group of three year olds chasing a Grade 3 victory. The only graded stakes winner in the field is Flameaway who won the SamF Davis in February wiring a small field. Let's look at the field.
He seems overmatched in this field. He was soundly beaten by Diamond King in the Tesio with no apparent excuse. He will run from off the pace which is a good thing in this speed packed race, but doesn't seem good enough.
He is a solid contender and probable favorite in the race. We can forgive the Derby where he chased Justify in the mud. He could be compromised by all the speed in this race, but I don't think he needs the lead to win. He will definitely be on or near the pace early.
3. Lone Sailor
He is a solid contender and sure to be one of the betting choices. He was not badly beaten in Baltimore, but still hung a bit at the finish. He's previously placed in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby but that race can be viewed as a strike against him because he refused to go by the winner late, even with a perfect setup. That said, he will get a good setup here as well because there is a lot of speed signed on in this race.
He will be one of several in here shooting out for the front, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to see him hanging on for long.
5. Title Ready
He is another who will be vying for the lead early, but figures to be compromised by the pace. He ran on the lead in his maiden win, but when he tried that in the Rebel he was inhaled by Magnum Moon. He will make his presence known on the front for a ways, but I can't see him dispatching Flameaway and still holding off the closers.
6. Trigger Warning
He's had two races around two turns and both were dismal. He has sprinters speed so he will pop out early, but I can't see him as a factor in this race.
7. Diamond King
He had no chance in the Swale chasing a loose leader on a speed favoring track, but his race was deceptively good. Made a nice run on the turn in that one and flattened out in a very fast race. I would throw out the Preakness where he raced wide at the start chasing Justify and Good Magic. If he can work out a stalking trip and stay away from the front early, he might surprise.
He has only one win on the dance card and a bunch of dismal efforts chasing really good horses. He gets class relief here, but Flameaway beat him by a pole in the Bluegrass.
He hasn't raced on dirt yet, but he will clearly like the distance and get a good setup for his closing kick. He could be a potential surprise in here.
10. Core Beliefs
He was not embarrassed by Justify in California. He stumbled at the start of the Peter Pan, then rushed up into a four horse duel around the turn, held off the other three speeds and opened up late, but was caught by Blind Citizen who had a perfect trip. This horse will make Flameaway earn every inch and if he can work out a trip, he will be heard from.
11. Dream Baby Dream
He is the closing plodder who will be passing all the cheap speed late. How many will he pass? With all the speed signed on here, there is the potential for a true pace meltdown. He would be the beneficiary of a meltdown.
12. Last Drop of Wine
He's a sprinter drawn on the far outside of a race packed with speed. His only chance is go for the front and hope.
How to bet?
With so many speed horses in the race, I would make an exacta box with the four closers who figure to benefit. Box 3-7-9-11.
The quality speed horses in the race are Flameaway and Core Beliefs. I would make protect bets using them with the closers.
The most likely winner is Lone Sailor who figures to get a ground saving inside trip and the perfect setup.