2015 Indiana Derby and Indiana Oaks Preview

This Saturday night, Indiana Grand has its flagship night of racing.  The card features its only two graded stakes races of the meet: the Indiana Oaks (GII) and the Indiana Derby (GII).  Both races were inaugurated in 1995 at Hoosier Park, and moved to Indiana Grand in 2013 when owners Centaur Gaming centralized thoroughbred and quarter horse racing at Indiana Grand, and harness racing at Hoosier Park.  Previously, both tracks had hosted all three types of racing at various points in the year.  Until 2015, both races were contested in the fall.  This year, they were moved to mid-summer.

While I focus on Indiana, Paul Mazur previews a pair of other stakes races this weekend.  Arlington's Saturday card features the Hanshin Cup (GIII), a one-turn mile for older polytrack runners.  Paul also turns his attention to the distaff division for Delaware Park's marquee race, the Delaware Handicap (GI).

This has been edited on July 18 to reflect the scratches of TIGER RIDE and AFFECT from the Indiana Oaks.

Race 8: Indiana Oaks (GII), three-year-old fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 9:11pm EDT

The Indiana Oaks will be run for the 20th time this year.  It began as a one-mile race at Hoosier Park in 1995, and stretched out to its current 1 1/16 mile distance two years later.  It has been run every year since its inception save one, 2009.  The race became a Grade III in 2001, and has been designated a Grade II since 2008.  1997 Canadian Champion Three Year Old Filly Cotton Carnival won this race during her Sovereign Award-winning season.  Several local graded stakes winners have won the Indiana Oaks over the years, as well.  The first winner of the Indiana Oaks, Niner's Home (1995), had won the Arlington Heights Oaks (GIII) by a nose over Illinois-bred A Goodlookin Broad in her previous start.  Humble Clerk (2000) concluded her racing career with a win in the 2001 Arlington Matron (GIII).  Bare Necessities (2002) won the Sixty Sails Handicap (GIII) at Hawthorne in 2003, and finished second behind Allspice the year after that.

This race drew a competitive field of eleven.  While this race may have attracted a lot of horses, it did not attract a lot of early speed.  With that, HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN has a strong change to take to the front and wire the field.  ALL DAY ALICE is the only other runner in the field who has shown propensity to go to the front, having tried that tactic in her last start, but she has done her better work sitting off the early going.  HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN comes into this race second off a layoff, and second off a move to the Steve Hobby barn.  Hobby wins at 20% second off the lay.  She was second in the Indiana Grand slop last out, but she chased a lone speed all the way around.  She should be sharper and fitter here.  HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN also gets a rider change back to Joe Rocco, who has already piloted her to a frontrunning win.  Finally, she broke her maiden in the mud; the rain in the forecast does not hurt her one bit.  HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN looks primed for an upset.

Rail-drawn OCEANWAVE has a shot here.  She drops in class after tries in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) and the Acorn (GI).  Not only does her class compare well with this field, but so does her speed; she may just be the fastest horse in this bunch.  Though both of her wins have come at sprint distances, she has been second in both of her tries at the 1 1/16 mile distance of the Indiana Oaks.  Though OCEANWAVE is an off-pace type, she does not need to come rallying from the clouds, and also gets a rider change back to Shaun Bridgmohan.  He has been aboard her for both of her wins, and has tended to keep her a bit closer to the pace than her more recent riders.  That should help here given the lack of early speed; among the shorter priced horses, she is the one to beat.  The third slot was a tight choice between a pair of Candy Ride daughters who stand a chance to improve here: TIGER RIDE and AHH CHOCOLATE.  AHH CHOCOLATE takes a little step down in class from the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) last out, but more importantly dials back in distance.  The nine furlongs of the Black-Eyed Susan may have proven a bit long for her, though she still finished just a half length behind Include Betty in that race.  Include Betty franked that form well next out in the Mother Goose.  AHH CHOCOLATE does have a win at this distance at Keeneland.  The biggest worry about AHH CHOCOLATE is the lack of pace in front of her.  However, the race shape of the win at Keeneland was encouraging: she was not nearly as far back in the early stages as she was in her maiden win, and made a relatively early move.  This suggests an ability to get going early -- something she will probably need, given how likely HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN is to be winging it on the front.

Selections:

#2 HIGH DOLLAR WOMAN (20/1)

#1 OCEANWAVE (3/1)

#2 AHH CHOCOLATE (5/2)

Longshot:  #5 ALL DAY ALICE (30/1) steps into stakes company for the first time here.  She was third in allowance company at this distance at Churchill Downs last out, but was on a pressured pace the entire way through.  On the lead, however, does not look to be her best place.  She has turned in her better efforts just off of it.  She also gets a rider change back to Florent Geroux, who got her home two starts back in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.  Given the lack of early speed in this race, she looks to be the most likely to get first run on the early pace.  A mile and a sixteenth may prove to be on the long side of what she can do, but given the favourable pace scenario and the known ability to run well with Geroux, she has a change to hang on for a share for a very long price.

Race 9: Indiana Derby (GII), three-year-olds, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 9:41pm EDT

This year marks the 21st running of the Indiana Derby, which has been run at its current 1 1/16 mile distance every year since its inauguration in 1995.  It first earned a Grade III designation in 2002, and earned its current Grade II ranking two years later.  To date, only one horse has won the Indiana Derby on the way to an Eclipse award that year: 2010 Champion Three Year Old Male Lookin At Lucky, who won the Preakness (GI) and the Haskell (GI) that year as well.  One other Eclipse winner has won the Indiana Derby: 2002 Champion Sprinter Orientate won this race in 2001.  Of local interest, one Illinois-bred has won the Indiana Derby.  Canyon Run, a son of multiple stakes-winning Illinois-bred Miss Creeker, won the 1996 Indiana Derby.  He followed that up with a third-place finish in the Hawthorne Derby (GIII) later that month.


Lookin At Lucky splashes home a winner in the 2010 Indiana Derby.

ISLAND TOWN made his stakes debut last out in the Matt Winn (GIII), and outgamed a stubborn (though admittedly troubled) Fame and Power to the wire.  He gets rider Julien Leparoux back from that win, as well as from his Derby undercard allowance win two starts back.  In each of those races, he got a different trip.  He rallied from off the pace in that allowance win, whereas he slugged it out on the front with Private Prospect and then Fame and Power in the Matt Winn.  This gives him an out whether ALABASTER (or even DIVINING ROD) goes with MR. Z early, or if he has to do the dirty work himself.  That last-out win also came at the same distance as the Indiana Derby.  His versatility, speed, and ability to stay the trip should make ISLAND TOWN tough here; he should also be a square price with both MR. Z and DIVINING ROD in this field.  That aforementioned pair made up the 1-3 finishers of the Ohio Derby last month.  MR. Z took the early lead in that last race, and finally won a slugfest to the wire.  DIVINING ROD rallied from a few lengths off early, and got the worst of a three-way photo finish.  DIVINING ROD has come out of that Ohio Derby with a blazing return to the worktab, and should be primed to turn the tables on MR. Z today.  The rain in the forecast should not be a big deal for DIVINING ROD; though he was a well-beaten third in the Preakness, that race covered a furlong longer, and there is no AMERICAN PHAROAH in this field.  There is MR. Z again, who could be tough if on an uncontested lead, but does not stand to have that here.  DIVINING ROD should be one of the ones with first run, and he has the speed and class to do well here.  He gets a rider change to Alex Cintron, but he should be a good fit for DIVINING ROD's forwardly placed yet ratable running style.  TIZ SHEA D ships out from New York, and looks well spotted here.  Trainer Bill Mott is 18% with his shippers, suggesting he picks his spots well.  The distance should work for TIZ SHEA D; he has been second in both tries at 1 1/16 miles.  Last out he set contested fractions during an allowance on the Belmont Stakes undercard, and continued with interest.  More interesting here is his second-place in the Gotham.  That happened over a wet track, something the weather forecast suggests TIZ SHEA D will get in the Indiana Derby as well.  He sat within striking distance of a contested pace, and was able to run on late for second.  He does not likely have the early speed to go with the frontrunners in this race, but he should have enough going on in front of him to rally for at least a share.

Selections:

#6 ISLAND TOWN (3/1)

#2 DIVINING ROD (5/2)

#3 TIZ SHEA D (6/1)

Longshot:  #8 DELIVERANCE DAY (20/1) runs for a solid set of local connections: 18% trainer Tim Glyshaw and 21% rider Albin Jimenez.  As a pair, these two have had a +$2.11 ROI in eleven starts together over the last two months, and gotten eight of those eleven runners to finish in the money.  Though Glyshaw has not won any of his last six attempts in graded stakes races, his runners have hit the board in five of those tries.  DELIVERANCE DAY has won all three of his attempts at a mile and a sixteenth on the dirt, and displayed in his maiden win the ability to rally into a pace that was not excessively fast.  This gives him a shot even if the likes of ALABASTER or DIVINING ROD do not press MR. Z excessively hard early.  DELIVERANCE DAY will have to run the best race of his career to win this, his stakes debut, but there are enough gossamer threads to suggest he will outrun his odds.

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