The OH Derby (Grade 3)- $500.000 Purse
TDN- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
June 23, 2018
It’s time for Ohio to be on the spotlight for great racing, instead of just bottom level racing, as we get set for the 7th running of the Grade 3 OH Derby, the biggest race in the state. It is a race that only recently saw its purse climb to the high level that we see it at, so it was not a race that was carded often by the game. It’s first appearance on the schedule was in 2008, when it was a Grade 2, and offered a $300.000 Purse, but after that, the purse was sliced to $100.000, and it even lost its graded classification. In 2017, things changed for the better, as the race was extended to the current distance, the purse increased, and it would become a Grade 3. Gdp Inc won the race, doing so with the “win or nothing” Hidden Slew Laff. The trainer has two going to the gate, and they’ll be in the first two spots in the starting gate. One of them is a filly, as Jinxed Queen looks to upstage the boys. Here is our field!
#1- Di Pantera (Gdp Inc, ridden by L Saez)- The gelding by Di Medici has won one of six races thus far in 2018, and overall he has wins in two out of ten. Those numbers are not completely awe-inspiring, but we can take comfort in knowing that he is coming off a win in his last start, which was the $200.000 Commentator for NY-breds last month. That was impressive looking as well, and seemed to represent a tactical change as he went right out to the lead and stayed there, earning a career high 101 SRF. Saez was in the saddle for that one as well. This race is a little longer, but if he runs like that again, there’s no reason why he can’t duplicate the performance.
#2- Jinxed Queen (Gdp Inc, ridden by A A Gallardo)- A different challenge awaits Jinxed Queen as she attempts to take on boys for the first time in her career. She is in the best form of her career right now, and it seemed to start when she won the Grade 1 Gazelle in AQU, after a couple of smaller wins. Following that, she had another big race, winning the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan for her fourth in a row. She’s been dodging the best three year old fillies in the game a little, and that is paying off for her. As a filly, she gets a five pound weight advantage. It’s been a while since I last saw a filly win a race like this.
#3- Charleys Agent (Mb Stables, ridden by D E Centeno)- One of two that Mb Stables will have in the field, and each are equally capable of winning this race. This President Ebola gelding has won his last two races, and did not mind the slop at PIM at all last month went he went on to win the Grade 3 PIM Special, enjoying his advantage against a couple older horses. If you take out the TAM Derby, Charleys Agent looks a lot better in the program with two wins and two seconds those four starts. He does seem to throw the occasional dud, and perhaps that is why he is not higher up on the Mb Stables ladder that he could be right now. Winning this will help that cause.
#4- Dastardly Havoc (Smokey Stover, ridden by J L Ortiz)- After a disappointing finish in the AR Derby, Dastardly Havoc saw himself sold by Mb Stables to Smokey Stover for $255.000 just two days after that race. His prep race season wasn’t bad, it just was not good enough, as it consisted of mainly fourth place finishes. Smokey Stover moved him away from the TC series after purchase, and instead entered him in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at MTH around Memorial Day, and he would come out on top. It was just the second win of his career, but he as he was holding his own against the best in the division all spring, he should be quite competitive here.
#5- Out There (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- Thanks to having the services of the amazing F Pennington in the saddle, Out There is a contender on that basis alone. He is also by Wreaking Havoc, the same sire of Dastardly Havoc starting right beside him. Now, Out There will be looking for his career to follow a similar path. So far, we have mainly seen him running at a mile, and only in his last race did he attempt a stake. That came on the sloppy track of PIM on PRK day, as he place fourth out of five in the Sir Barton Stakes. He didn’t have the services of Pennington that day, however, so we should certainly expect to see him improve off of that.
#6- Pure Gifts (Mb Stsbles, ridden by J Talamo)- The gelding by Pure Reindrops looks for his fourth win in ten starts in this race. With Mb’s other horse, Charleys Agent, we mentioned that his past performances look dramatically better if you take out one race. For Pure Gifts, that seems to apply as well if you take out the Wood Memorial. While that was a dud, Pure Gifts has been very good. For him, the TAM Derby went fine, as he finished third in a three-way photo for the win, one of two non-wins for him that were mere inches of being a victory. He was last seen up at WO, running in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes, and he came out on top.
#7- Steel Tunes (John Henry, ridden by F Prat)- Well, it was only yesterday (this is written on Tuesday the 19th), that Steel Tunes switched hands from Smokey Stover to John Henry for just $20.000. The new trainer loved what he saw so much that he immediately entered him into the OH Derby. I like what I see as well, which is a four race winning streak, and a gelding who’s form is steadily improving. His last two wins were the Queenston at WO for ON-breds, and then the Grade 3 All American at GG last month. This will be the toughest field he has seen, but he’s been climbing the ladder and is poised for a good run. I’m giving him the nod here.