Equibase Analysis: Tawny Port Ready For Rebound In Ohio Derby - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Equibase Analysis: Tawny Port Ready For Rebound In Ohio Derby

Tawny Port schools in the paddock at Churchill Downs

Saturday's Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown Racino drew a field of eight, with three horses last seen in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Among that trio the best finish was obtained by Tawny Port, who ended up seventh in the 20 horse field, beaten four and three-quarter lengths at the end. Classic Causeway checked in 11th in the Derby, with White Abarrio finishing 16th in the field of 20. Prior to that, Tawny Port won the G3 Lexington Stakes while White Abarrio won the G1 Florida Derby. Classic Causeway won the G2 Tampa Bay Derby in March before an 11th place finish in the Florida Derby.

Among the rest, Ethereal Road skipped the Derby and just won the Sir Barton Stakes five weeks ago so may be ready for another top effort. Barese won the Gander Stakes in February before a fifth place finish in the G2 Wood Memorial, followed by a third place effort in the NY Stallion Stakes. Droppin G's is winless in his last four races including a fourth place effort, beaten 14 lengths, in the G3 Matt Winn Stakes two weeks ago. Brigadier General and Pineapple Man round out the field, each with just a maiden win to their credit.

Analysis and top contenders:

Tawny Port won the first two starts of his career, then finished fifth in the Risen Star Stakes. Following a career best 102™ Equibase® Speed Figure earned when second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks in April, the colt earned enough points for a Kentucky Derby start with a win in the Lexington Stakes three weeks before the Derby. After starting 14th in the Derby, Tawny Port continually passed horses to get to fifth with an eighth of a mile to run but ran evenly thereafter, ending up seventh and just under five lengths from the winner. The 100 figure earned in that effort is tied for the best last race figure in the field with Ethereal Road.

However, Tawny Port is facing much easier competitors than Ethereal Road and that is the deciding factor in giving this colt top billing in the Ohio Derby. Tawny Port has an additional advantage over Ethereal Road as he can race about fourth in the early stages, which may be the best position to be in because up to three horses (Classic Causeway, Pineapple Man and Brigadier General) should set or press the pace from the onset. Best of all, Tawny Port attracts North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride.

Ethereal Road was going to run in the Kentucky Derby until a last minute withdrawal one day before the race. Prior to that the colt finished second in the Rebel Stakes in February with a 90™ figure then two races later improved to 94 when fourth behind Tawny Port in the Lexington Stakes. Entering the non-graded Sir Barton Stakes instead of the Preakness two weeks following the Derby, trainer D. Wayne Lukas appeared to have made the right choice with Ethereal Road as he rallied from fifth with a quarter mile to run to draw off by nearly five lengths, earning a career-best 100 figure in the process. That figure continued an improving pattern begun in January so there is a strong possibility this colt could run the best race of his career to win the Ohio Derby.

White Abarrio made his mark on the road to the Kentucky Derby earlier this year when winning the Holy Bull Stakes and Florida Derby in succession, earning 102 then 100 figures. In the Kentucky Derby, White Abarrio found himself much further back in the early stages than he had ever been, as he was 10th after a quarter mile and 12th after a half-mile had been run. He was also five to nine paths wide for most of the race, so fading to from 14th to 18th in the stretch was potentially to be expected. Finding an easier field in the Ohio Derby and with the tactical speed to take the lead if need be or to sit off another horse or horses who may want the lead at the start, White Abarrio has potential to rebound to his best performances of the year which would make him competitive in this situation.

The rest of the field, with their best ™ Equibase Speed Figures, is Barese (97), Brigadier General (99), Classic Causeway (104), Droppin G's (92) and Pineapple Man (84).

Win Contenders:
Tawny Port
Ethereal Road
White Abarrio

Ohio Derby – Grade 3
Race 11 at Thistledown
Saturday, June 25 – Post Time 5:35 PM E.T.
One Mile and One Eighth
Three Year Olds
Purse: $500,000

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