Photo: Santa Anita Park
The 18th running of the grade II $500,000 Indiana Derby highlights the biggest day in Indiana Racing history with a total of $1.4 million in purse money. The 2012 Indiana Derby is in my opinion the deepest and most talented field ever assembled in the 18 years of the event.
Hoosier Park has pulled all stops and laid out the red carpet while putting together the "best day of racing in the history of the state," a comment that was made by our very own Brian Zipse. Hoosier could also argue that this year’s running of the Indiana Derby is as good as ANY 3 year old stakes other than the Triple Crown Series. The Derby is once again the “who’s who” of Jockeys, Trainers, and Owners. The race has everything including another undefeated colt for the Derby/Preakness winning owner/jockey combination of J.Paul Reddam and Mario Gutierrez. Now let’s meet the field.
#1.Easter Gift 8/1 (Robert Lapenta- Nick Zito) Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche
Easter Gift comes to the Hoosier state off of a monster performance in the grade III Smarty Jones stakes at Parx where he disposed of the grade II Dwyer winner Teeth Of The Dog by some 6 lengths while earning a career best (96) beyer speed figure. He boast a record of 3 wins in 5 starts with $291,000 in earnings. A live long shot.
#2.Morgan’s Guerrilla 20/1 (F Thomas and Jack Conway Trey Thornto- Michael Maker) Jockey: Victor Lebron
The Illinois Derby runner up comes in off a 3rd place finish in the grade II Dwyer Stakes to the aforementioned Teeth Of The Dog at Belmont Park. With a career best beyer speed figure of (84) the Guerilla will need a “King Kong” like performance to top the likes of Fed Biz, Neck ‘N Neck and Bourbon Courage. The son of Ghostzapper has a record of 1 win in six starts with $186,000 in earnings.
#3.Junebugred 30/1 (Alex and JoAnn Lieblong- Steve Hobby) Jockey: Terry Thompson
The son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Corinthian is coming off a disappointing 4th place finish to Easter Gift in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx. Junebugred has yet to repeat his performances from early this spring at Oaklawn. Junebugred has a record of 2 wins in 6 starts with $117,659 in earnings.The field might be just too tough for him today.
#4.Fed Biz 5/2 (Kaleem Shah Inc- Bob Baffert) Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Fed Biz was regarded as one of the top 2 year old colts in “Baffert’s Army” in 2011. His debut as a 3 year old was dazzling while defeating his stablemate and grade II Swaps stakes winner Blueskiesnrainbows. Fed Biz missed the Triple Crown Series due to a hind-end issue. The Giant’s Causway colt comes into the Indiana Derby off a gutsy performance in the El Cajon Stakes at Delmar where he defeated Jimmy Creed. Rafael Bejarano is no stranger to the Hoosier Park winner’s circle and should help improve the colt 2nd off a long lay-off. Fed Biz has a record of 3 wins in 4 starts with $131,000 in earnings. A strong win contender.
#5.O’Prado Again 15/1 (Donegal Racing- Dale Romans) Jockey: Corey Lanerie
The grade II Remsen victor is coming off nearly a year layoff. He’s been burning up the Churchill Downs surface in the mornings in preparation for the Indiana Derby. Trainer Dale Romans is 17 % off the layoff, and the colt has the right running style in a race full of speed. He boasts a record of 2 wins in 5 starts with $156,290 in earnings. O’Prado Again will be coming from the clouds. He might be a little short off the layoff but will get a fast past to run at. He’s a long shot possibility.
#6.Tritap 12/1 (Ron Winchell- Steve Asmussen) Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan
Tritap is coming off two big performances at historic Saratoga Race Track. The colt is lightly raced and improving. He broke his maiden in his 3 year old debut by a neck. He backed his strong maiden breaking performance up with a big 2nd place effort against older in a $35,000 Optional Claimer while earning a (97) Beyer speed figure. Tritap boasts a record of 1 win in 5 starts with $85,600 in earnings. The Asmussen trainee will need his best performance to win this race. He has an outside chance to score here.
#7.Afford 30/1 (Jim Tafel- Greg Geier) Jockey: Florent Geroux
Afford is coming in off a disappointing 5th place finish in the Straight Line Stakes at Arlington Park. The colt had a rough trip in Chicago and has yet to fire in Stakes company when routing. He boast a record of 2 wins in 9 starts with $83,228 in earnings. The home-bred son of Street Sense will need to channel his Derby winning father to compete against this field. He might be up against it.
#8.Bourbon Courage 7/2 (Bourbon Lane Stable & Wayne Lynn- Kellyn Gorder) Jockey: Leandro Goncalves
The Lion Heart colt is coming off a monster performance in the grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. The Bourbon Lane Stable’s Bourbon Courage stormed home to demolish the Super Derby field by some 5 lengths for jockey Leandro Goncalves while earning a (96) Beyer speed figure. Bourbon Courage has a dynamic running style with a ferocious late kick. He boasts a record of 3 wins in 6 starts with $520,345 in earnings. If the race unfolds like it looks on paper he might just get the pace set up he needs to score an Indiana Derby win. He’s a must play with Leandro taking the mount over Neck ‘N Neck.
#9.Stealcase 6/1 (John C Oxley- Mark Casse) Jockey: Jermaine Bridgmohan
The Lawyer Ron colt has faced some of the best 3 year olds in the country including Hansen, Paynter, Alpha, and Golden Ticket. He’s coming off a big win in Canada in the grade III Ontario Derby at Woodbine where he earned a (96) Beyer speed figure. He has a record of 3 wins in 11 starts with earnings of $313,619. Stealcase has the right running style but might lack the class to win this race.
#10.Second City 20/1 (J. Paul Reddam- Ben Cecil) Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
The Ben Cecil charge is undefeated and untested. The Distorted Humor gelding showed a ton of versatility and courage when he was squeezed back to last in the grade III British Columbia Derby at Hastings. The royally bred Second City rallied from dead last to score a dominate win in Canada. He now has 4 wins in 4 starts with earnings of $172,404. He’s going to need the race of his life to compete with the best field he’s ever raced against but he’s worth every bit of 20/1. He’s an outside long-shot chance.
#11.Neck ‘N Neck. 9/2 (A. Stevens Miles Jr. -Ian Wilkes) Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.
Neck ‘N Neck is coming off a somewhat disappointing performance in the grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He buried Stealcase by some 7 ¼ lengths in the grade III Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs earlier this year. Neck ‘N Neck has a record of 3 wins in 12 starts with $320,106 in earnings. He loses his rider Leandro Goncalves to Bourbon Courage which is not encouraging. He does boast the second highest Beyer speed figure (102) in the race but might have peaked too soon.
#12.Adirondack King 30/1 (MarchFore Thoroughbreds -John Servis) Jockey: Stewart Elliott.
The 2004 Kentucky Derby/Preakness winning trainer/jockey combo of John Servis and Stewart Elliott will need to muster up some Smarty Jones magic with this son of Lawyer Ron. He’s coming off a 3rd place finish in an allowance Optional Claimer $40,000 at Parx. He has record of 3 wins in 12 starts with $185,239 in earnings. The Servis charge has yet to score a win routing. He’s facing the toughest field of his career. He’s going to be up against it in here.
[$500 Indiana Derby Free Contest on DerbyWars]