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Neck 'N Neck Rallies to an Indiana Derby Victory

Neck 'N Neck
Photo: LinScott Photography

On the biggest day in Indiana Racing history jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. stole the show pulling off the Indiana Oaks, Indiana Derby double cashing in on $700,000 in purse money and notching two grade 2 victories in the process.


The paddock was full of Hoosier racing enthusiast excited to see top class 3 year old colts and geldings  be saddled before the Indiana Derby.  There was a buzz flowing through the crowd as the Ben Cecil undefeated gelding Second City was late to be saddled.  As I stood in the paddock five foot away from the son of Distorted Humor I heard a call to the jockey’s room, “Get Marlon.” Apparently Mario Gutierrez was delayed and missed the mount by a mere five minutes arriving to the jock’s room as Second City was announced with Marlon St.Julien in the irons during the post parade.


As expected the Baffert trainee Fed Biz dictated the pace from the word go. The Giant’s Causeway colt seemed comfortable through a solid quarter in 23.61. Jockey Rafael Bejarano slowed the second quarter to a crawl in 24 seconds with a half time of 48.32. Junebugred pressured Fed Biz while putting a head in front, Tritap stalked  on the outside with Second City further out making a premature move.  Morgan’s Guerrilla sat a good stalking trip in fifth with O’Prado Again behind him. Bourban Courage was shuffled back early while Neck ‘N Neck was comfortable sitting next to last with only Stealcase behind him. As they reached the top of the stretch Fed Biz put his head back in front as Junebugred and Tritap began to fade. Long shot Afford made a menacing move into contention only a half-length back. Neck ‘N Neck made a ferociously rally 7 wide while running past the game Fed Biz. Bourbon Courage moved out late but it was too late, the Flower Alley colt was gone scoring a length victory. 

Neck ‘N Neck rebounded impressively from his disappointing effort in the Travers to become the 18th Indiana Derby champion while earning his 2nd graded stakes in the process.  Ian Wilkes has to be excited for the future of this colt and who knows maybe the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are in his future. Either way Neck ‘N Neck proved today that he was for real and a force to reckon with in graded stakes company.


In the Oaks, Hernandez put the heavily favored Grace Hall on the flank of the speedy Baffert filly Eden’s Moon.  The beautiful daughter of Empire Maker was glued to Eden’s Moon through a quarter in 23.67 and a half in 47.31. At the top of the stretch Hernandez let out a notch on the graded stakes winning filly as she stormed to the lead before drawing off to bury this Oaks field by some 4 lengths.  Wine Princess rallied from 3rd to run down Eden’s Moon for the place spot.  The win in the Indiana Oaks gives the Anthony Dutrow trainee her 4th graded stakes victory. 


This day will be remembered for many things, Brian Hernandez Jr’s sweep of the Oaks/Derby Double.  It will also be remembered for a missed opportunity as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Mario Gutierrez arrived 5 minutes late for his mount on Second City.  But this day will most likely be remembered by the awesome I repeat awesome day Hoosier Park gave the fans.  I’ve had the privilege of visiting several big venues and historic tracks in the past few years but Indiana is my home and I’ve yet to find a staff as helpful and just plain kind as the people at Hoosier Park. Bravo! Hoosier Park Racing and Casino you’ve truly outdone yourself with this year’s Indiana Derby Day.


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Older Comments about Neck 'N Neck Rallies to an Indiana Derby Victory...

SO glad Marlon got the mount! I'm 100% convinced that if he didn't get cut off twice in the stretch, he would've won it
Scott, sounds like a terrific day at the track. Ian Wilkes is having a pretty good year in the stakes department! See you at the Breeders' Cup.

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