The 2018 Ohio Derby (G3), which is run at Thistledown Race Track in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH, kicks off the second season of graded stakes races that are restricted to 3-year-old males. This year’s race is headlined by Lone Sailor and Flameaway, both of whom ran in 2018 Kentucky Derby.
Last year’s Ohio Derby, with its stretch battle between Irap and Girvin was one of the finest in history and turned out to be a key race. The winner Irap went on to take his next start in the Indiana Derby (G3) before finishing third and second in the Grade 1 Travers and Pennsylvania Derby. While the runner-up Girvin took down the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) in his next start. Untrapped, who was third in the Thistledown signature race, was victorious in the Oklahoma Derby (G3).
The mile and an eighth contest comes with a purse of $500,000 and is scheduled as race nine. Here is the field of 12 with the track’s morning line.
Takedown [ML 20-1 – Take Charge Indy – L. Gaudet/L. Colon – 7: 2-1-2 – $62,870] The first of three horses from Loooch Racing Stable, this one has been based in the Maryland with Lacey Gaudet. He sports an allowance victory at Laurel before trying two listed stakes with a third-place finish in the JW Murphy Stakes. This closer faces a serious class challenge in this Grade 3 race. Second-string Loooch runner.
Flameaway [ML 5-2 – Scat Daddy – M. Casse/J.Lezcano – 10: 5-2-0 – $379,237] Last time Flameaway ran in a Grade 3 race he was the winner of the Sam F. Davis on the Kentucky Derby trail. Before that he had won on the turf at Gulfstream Park and the artificial surface at Woodbine. He was second in the Tampa Derby (G2) and the Blue Grass before his 13th place finish on the First Saturday in May. Thistledown will be the eighth different track at which he has competed. This versatile competitor likes to be part of the early going. Clearly, the one to beat.
Lone Sailor [ML 3-1 – Majestic Warrior – Amoss/I. Ortiz – 10: 1-3-1 – $379,237] Lone Sailor missed winning the Louisiana Derby (G2) when he fell a neck short of Noble Indy. In the Triple Crown races, he was eighth in the Derby and fifth in the Preakness behind Justify. Yet, this son of Majestic Warrior has only one career victory way back in his second career start on the Saratoga slop. Certainly, he will be getting significant class relief in this Grade 3 race. Tom Amoss has him training smartly for the trip to Ohio from Churchill Downs. He won’t have to chase Justify here.
Caloric [ML 30-1 – Stay Thirsty– Londono/Mejias – 5: 2-0-0 – $31,800] Caloric was claimed twice, the first he was taken from Todd Pletcher when he won a $25,000 maiden Claimer and then in the next race from Jason Servis after he dropped in for $16,000. Both claims happened at Gulfstream Park. After that, the new ownership tried the Tampa Derby where he ran seventh. Based at Thistledown, he was sent to get third in a sprint stake at Presque Isle. Former claimer is in a very tough spot.
Title Ready [ML 10-1 – More Than Ready – Asmussen/C. J. McMahon – 8: 2-2-1 – $173,850] You will see lots of Kentucky Derby horses in the running lines of this Asmussen runner. He was fourth in the Rebel (G2) behind Magnum Moon after setting the pace for six furlongs. On the sloppy Preakness racetrack, he ran second behind Ax Man. Expect Title Ready to push the early pace, where he is likely to find the favorite Flameaway. Can he carry his speed nine furlongs?
Trigger Warning [ML 12-1 – Candy Ride – Rone/Rosendo – 10: 4-0-1 – $107,778] This Thistledown based sprinter has won his two last starts. The first was an allowance at Sunland Park and then a stake at Presque Isle in 1:08 and change. He could be another one that helps make what appears to be a very quick early pace in this running of the Ohio Derby. Speedy sprinter.
Diamond King [ML 6-1 – Quality Road – John Servis/F. Pennington – 7: 4-0-1 – $222,600] Diamond King’s only bad race was in the Preakness where he had a rough trip in the rain and fog. Maybe you can draw a line through that effort and go back to find a very good win in the Tesio at Laurel going the mile and an eighth distance. He ran third in the Swale behind the speedy Strike Power. He is another that is likely to be forwardly placed. He has done very little wrong in his career.
Machismo [ML 20-1 – More Than Ready – Quartarolo/Radke – 7: 1-0-1 – $379,237] Owner Ron Paolucci lives in Akron, Ohio, and there is nothing he would rather do than win this home state Derby, that is when is not taking down six figure pick sixes. This Loooch Stable runner is another one in the field with just a maiden victory that is seeking class relief after competing on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail. His best finish there was a fourth place in the Fountain of Youth, but that was followed by two uncompetitive starts in the Blue Grass (G2) and the Arkansas Derby (G1). Off since that start at Oaklawn Park, he has two recent works under the Twin Spires. His best races were when he could compete for the early lead. This will be his first start on the Ohio track. The top Loooch runner.
O’Kratos [ML 12-1 – Paddy O’ Prado – Banach/C. Hill – 6: 3-0-1 – $121,263] This Woodbine-based runner ships to Ohio with two wins in a row that include a seven-furlong sprint and the Marine (G3). He looks like one that will have to sit a stalking trip in this field. To no surprise, this son of Paddy O’Prado has run well on turf and synthetic tracks, but has yet to try a conventional dirt surface. Will he take to the dirt?
Core Beliefs [ML 5-1 – Quality Road – Eurton/Talamo – 5: 1-1-3 – $235,360] Core Beliefs has only one win but has never been out of the money including third-place in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind Justify and Bolt d’Oro and then second in the Peter Pan (G3) to Blended Citizen. Both of those races look good in his past performances, but Blended Citizen and Bolt d’Oro both flopped on Belmont Stakes day. He joins a long list of horses that are pace pressers. Another serious contender.
Dream Baby Dream [ML 15-1 – Into Mischief – Asmussen/R. Feliciano – 10: 1-1-4 – $255,643] Another one with only a maiden victory that showed up on the Derby trail when he finished second in the Sunland Derby. However, his two subsequent starts in the Arkansas Derby and the Sir Barton did not measure up. He does like to run off the pace which is a good thing with the likely pace scenario. This field will be a big challenge.
Last Drop of Wine [ML 30-1 – Sing Baby Sing – Rini/T.D. Houghton – 11: 2-1-0 – $42,139] This is the third runner from the Loooch team. He was taken as a 2-year-old from a victory in a $15,000 maiden claimer. He won his next start in a $30,000 claiming race and has not won since in allowance company. Third-string Loooch runner.
Summary: The Ohio Derby has drawn a very strong field of horses looking to make their mark in the remaining graded stakes that are restricted to 3-year-olds. With so much of the field preferring to run on or near the front end in the early going, including Diamond King and Flameaway, it makes sense to choose a closer to pick up the pieces. That makes Lone Sailor the logical choice to come running late for the win, especially on a fast track.