The Indiana Derby is a mere two weeks away. Horse racing fans in Indiana are brimming with excitement. It would be hard to top last years Indiana Derby, with 2 time Eclipse award winner Lookin at Lucky closing with a rush over the sloppy track to conquer the grade II field.
The 2011 Indiana Derby is shaping up to be just as good as last years edition, maybe even better. At the least, this field will be a lot deeper. So far, the grade I King's Bishop and multiple graded stakes winner Caleb's Posse is confirmed as an Indiana Derby participant. This sprinter has already proven himself around 2 turns with his win in the grade III Ohio Derby. Conditioner Donnie Von Hemel will be using the Indiana Derby as a stepping stone to either the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile or the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
HRTV reported Wednesday that a major triple crown participant will be pointing towards the Indiana Derby, they would not release the name of the horse, saying “we have to keep it hush, hush.” I will speculate on who I believe this horse may be. Mucho Macho Man would be the most logical choice. The Kathy Ritvo trainee finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. He went on to finish a disappointing 5th in the Preakness and a dreadful 7th in the Belmont Stakes.
Mucho Macho Man has been working like a machine for the past two months, posting 3 bullet work-outs out of 4 total works. His last work on September 2nd was a strong 5 furlong work in 1:02.93, it was the best of 10 work outs on the day. His series of works started out in August at Saratoga, gradually building from a 3 furlong work, to his recent 5 furlong work. He seems to be coming into top condition. The addition of Mucho Macho Man would bring another star to the Indiana Derby field.
Trainer Bob Baffert is going for a three-peat in the Indiana Derby. Before Lookin at Lucky, Baffert took the 2009 Indiana Derby with the grade I winner Misremembered. Misremembered provided the fans with a sparkling performance, while setting the track record in an impressive time of 1:40.80 for the 8.5 furlong distance. This would be a sign of things to come for the ridgling. He went on to finish 2nd in the 2009, grade II Clark Handicap, beaten by the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame. Misremembered went on to win the grade I Santa Anita Handicap in 2010.
Baffert used last years running of the Indiana Derby as a test for his Champion colt Lookin at Lucky. The two-time champion would pass the test with flying colors. The Baffert trainee closed from last to conquer the field and stamp his position as a contender in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Lucky ran a gallant 4th to Classic winner Blame, and Horse of the Year Zenyatta.
Baffert has several options that could lead to his three-peat. Coil would seem to be the obvious pick, the Haskell winner is coming off a disappointing performance in the Travers at Saratoga. Coil seemed to despise the surface at the “Spa.” The track at Hoosier Park is vaguely similar to the surface at Monmouth Park, a surface that Coil relished.
Baffert could also send recent Super Derby winner Prayer for Relief. The Indiana Derby is a perfect prep race for any Breeders' Cup race, being only five weeks away from the “Main Event.” Prayer for Relief was dazzling over the Louisiana Downs surface, crushing his competition by 2 ½ lengths. This “God Fearing” colt is on a 3 Derby win streak, having won - the grade III Iowa Derby, the grade II West Virginia Derby, and the grade II Super Derby.
Tom Amoss is finding a home in the Hoosier state. Amoss dominated the trainers race at Indiana Downs and has been solid so far at Hoosier Park, his entrants have won a strong 26 % of their races. Amoss will be pointing his Louisiana bred Populist Politics towards the Indiana Derby. Populist Politics made a bold move in the Super Derby, before flattening out just a bit deep in the stretch. He finished a strong 3rd to Prayer for Relief. Populist Politics will need to improve quite a bit if he wants to contend with this strong field.
One thing is for sure, the Indiana Derby will be filled with talent, and hopefully we'll see some of these colts step out and make some noise in the Breeders' Cup races.