Weekend Lineup Presented By BetMakers: Summer Derby Season Kicks Off In Ohio - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Weekend Lineup Presented By BetMakers: Summer Derby Season Kicks Off In Ohio

White Abarrio winning the Florida Derby

While the Kentucky Derby may be the biggest and most famous race for 3-year-olds in North America, there are more “derbies” throughout the summer months than you can shake a stick at.

Early season races like the Florida, Arkansas and Santa Anita Derbies serve as major preps for the big prize at Churchill Downs that everyone wants to win, but there are lots of consolation events for very good 3-year-olds racing on dirt once the Triple Crown ends in early June.

That season starts this weekend with Saturday's Grade 3 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown racetrack near Cleveland and continues with the G3 Indiana Derby, Iowa Derby and Los Alamitos Derby on July 9, the G3 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 6, and the Runhappy Ellis Park Derby Aug. 14, among other races.

The three big G1 dirt races for 3-year-olds during the summer months are the July 23 TVG.com Haskell, the Aug. 27 Runhappy Travers Stakes and the Sept. 24 Pennsylvania Derby.

The Ohio Derby came up strong with three horses who exited the Kentucky Derby last out heading the lineup in a field of eight. Tawny Port was established the 3-1 morning line favorite after a seventh-place finish behind longshot Rich Strike in the Run for the Roses.

Also worth noting that the weekend includes the Group 1 Irish Derby from the Curragh.

Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's graded stakes:

Saturday

4:40 PM – Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park

Only five 3-year-old fillies are entered in this one-turn 1 1/16-mile main track fixture, and that's no surprise since it comes just two weeks after a four-horse field contested the G1 Acorn at Belmont going a one-turn mile on Belmont Stakes day.  The only graded stakes winner among them is Juju's Map, who took the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last October before finishing second behind Echo Zulu in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of Liam's Map will be the heavy favorite after a dominating allowance score at Churchill Downs May 6 in her only start at 3. Shahama had some trouble running sixth in the G1 Kentucky Oaks and will try to give Todd Pletcher his seventh Mother Goose win.

4:48 PM – Lady Jacqueline Stakes at JACK Thistledown

The Lady Jacqueline is not a graded race but its $250,000 purse brought a solid field of 10 to the North Randall racetrack and casino. Army Wife won back-to-back graded stakes in 2021 and was a good third to Malathaat in the G1 Alabama. She had a good prep  at Churchill Downs to begin her 2022 campaign on June 2 for trainer Mike Maker. Kenny McPeek-trained Crazy Beautiful is another multiple graded stakes winner and Maracuja, who won the G1 CCA Oaks at Saratoga over Malathaat and Clairiere last summer is capable of winning this on her best day.

4:55 PM – Grade 3 Chicago Stakes at Churchill Downs

The Chicago is one of the graded stakes pilfered from the scrapheap at Arlington Park and, despite being won mostly by synthetic track specialists it has maintained its G3 ranking. The change of scenery, surface and increased purse has made this 2022 renewal worthy of its graded status and the field of seven is quite good. Sconsin and Bell's the One have developed a good rivalry while proving to be top-class sprinters, and Kalypso has shown to be particularly effective  at seven furlongs, winning the G2 Santa Ynez and G1 La Brea at that distance in California when trained by Bob Baffert. But the mare they may all have to run down is Lady Rocket, from the Brad Cox barn.

5:35 – Grade 3 Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown

The $500,000 Ohio Derby, which dates back to 1876 when it was run at defunct Chester Park in Cincinnati, is one of four stakes on the program on the Cleveland area track's biggest day of the  year. G1 Florida Derby winner White Abarrio, G2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway and G3 Lexington Stakes winner Tawny Port – all exiting off-the-board finishes behind Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby – head a line-up of eight 3-year-olds racing over nine furlongs. D. Wayne Lukas-trained Ethereal Road, whose scratch from the Kentucky Derby allowed Rich Strike into the field from the also-eligible list, may also be a solid contender after dominating the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard May 21. Of the three horses exiting the Kentucky Derby, Classic Causeway may have the most early speed, something he failed to show when running 11th at Churchill Downs. The Giant's Causeway colt's owners moved the horse from Brian Lynch to Kenny McPeek. But there appears to be plenty of speed in the lineup with Dallas Stewart-trained Brigadier Gerard and Mike Maker-trained Pineapple Man capable of setting quick early fractions. There's probably a reason Irad Ortiz Jr. opted to come to Ohio to ride Tawny Port for Brad Cox. He'll be accelerating late.

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