Photo: Four Footed Fotos
The $200,000 Oliver stakes
is the jewel of the Indiana Downs meet. The one-mile turf affair for 3-year-olds always
attracts top class horses, trainers, and jockeys, and this year is no different. In the past, Oliver participants have gone on
to run in big races such as the grade II American Derby, grade II Del Mar Derby,
grade II Oak Tree Derby, grade II Dixie and grade I Manhattan.
Indiana Downs lacks a much
needed graded stakes race. I believe after you see the field contesting this
year’s Oliver you will agree with me that it is of graded stakes quality. The Oliver is a perfect spot for trainers
looking for a strong turf race for their 3-year-old colts. Let’s take a look at this year’s field.
1. 7/5 Quick Wit- Sharp Humor (Distorted Humor) Thank the Academy (Royal
Lanerie C.J. – Dale Romans
Quick Wit is the first of 3 horses entered for trainer Dale Romans. The Sharp Humor colt broke his maiden on dirt in a sprint at Gulfstream Park in January. He ran a good 3rd to Thunder Moccasin and Il Villano in the Hutchenson. In his last 3 races he’s faced the likes of Trinniberg, Hierro, and Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter. He’s coming off of a brutal trip while finishing 3rd (moved up to 2nd via dq) beaten only a head in an Allowance race on the turf at Churchill Downs. I could see Quick Wit closing ground late to pick up the pieces for 2nd or 3rd, but I don’t see him beating his stable mate Silver Max.
1 A. 7/5 Silver Max- Badge
of Silver (Silver Deputy) Kissin Rene (Kissin Kris)
Albarado R.J. – Dale Romans
Silver Max is coming off wins in the grade III Transylvania, grade III American Turf and the $125,000 Arlington Classic. Max is the perfect definition of a professional race horse. He’s never finished worse than 2nd on the turf and he’s coming off of 4 straight wins. This could be the best 3 year old turf horse in the country. He’s solely the one to beat in the Oliver. Romans could be using this spot as a prep race for the grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Arlington Million day.
1x. 7/5 Cozzetti- Cozzene (caro) Lemon Drop Ceilo (Lemon Drop Kid)
Lanerie C.J. – Dale Romans
Cozzetti is 1 for 8 life time
with that win coming in a maiden race. He’s coming out of a 7th
place finish to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness. He’s winless on turf and
his deep closing style might compromise his chances as this field lacks speed.
He’s faced some of the top 3 year olds in the country, but I don’t think turf
is his best surface. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cozzetti scratched since
Romans has 2 others and he’s also named Lanerie on Quick Wit.
2. 6/1 Travel Advisory- Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat) Fire of Freedom (Street Cry
Goncalves L R– Kellyn Gorder
Travel Advisory has run
into Silver Max in his last two races, but he hasn’t disrespected himself
finishing second in both races. The Stormy Atlantic colt has shown an affinity for
the grass never finishing worse than second.
He might also be compromised by his late running style, but if someone
pressures Silver Max early he could run them all down late.
3. 7/2 Howe Great- Hat Trick (Sunday Silence) Ginger Sea
*Saf* (Western Winter)
Prado E S – Graham Motion
Howe Great has been very impressive in 7 starts with 4
wins a 2nd and a 3rd. He hit the gate in his last race
before being defeated by Silver Max. He has a versatile running style with the
ability to lay close to the pace or close from the behind. He fought off triple
crown participant Dullahan to take the grade III Palm Beach Stakes at
Gulfstream. Howe great is 3 for 4 on the grass and looks to sit a great trip
behind Silver Max. If he’s good enough it could be a “Great” win for Team Valor
and Howe Great.
4. 20/1 DIEZ- Rock Hard Ten – (Kris S.) Provisions (Devil’s Bag)
Lebron V – Darrin Miller
Diez is very lightly raced only with only 2 starts. He’s
coming off a 5th place performance in the Needles stakes at Calder.
He has yet to stretch his talent around 2 turns and being out of Rock Hard Ten
he should relish a distance of ground. Normally I love to play Rock Hard Ten’s
going a route of ground for the first time, but this group is just too classy
5. 20/1 A Z Ridge- Toccet (Awesome Again) Unusual Spring (Unusual Heat)
Kuntzweiler G – Dan Mcfarlane
Az Ridge is 2 for 11 life time with his biggest win coming
in the $72,000 ATBA stakes as a 2 year old at Turf Paradise. He’s trying turf
for the first time and facing much tougher. He will need the race of his life
just to compete with this salty group.
6. 20/1 Potomac River- English Channel (Smart
Strike) Reba’s Approval (With Approval)
Vargas J P – William R Helmbrecht
The lightly raced son of English Channel is coming off
of a 7th place finish in the same allowance race where fellow Oliver
participants Temerine and Quick Wit ran 1st and 2nd. The William Helmbrecht
charge is royally bred, but needs a lot of improvement to find himself in the
winner’s circle against these talented colts. A big race for Potomac River might
only be good enough to catch a piece of the trifecta or super.
7. 8/1 Mr. Prankster– It’s No Joke (Distorted
Humor) Cremedelacramer (Avenue of Flags)
Mena M – Mike Maker
Mr. Prankster is “back home again in Indiana.” He broke
his maiden at Hoosier Park. He’s ultra-consistent with 3 wins in 9 starts
hitting the board in 8 of those races. He’s coming off a solid 3rd
place finish while setting the pace in his first start on turf at Belmont
Park. He’s quite versatile, with
tactical speed and the ability to close if needed. He might be able to pressure
Silver Max early, but I don’t think he can overpower him late. He’s definitely
a horse to use in exacta’s and trifecta’s.
8. 12/1 Temeraine– Arch (Kris S.) Lonely Fact (Known
Sellers S J – Tom Proctor
Temeraine made a huge improvement when hitting the lawn
for the first time in his last race. He won via dq, but he showed an incredible
turn of foot late. He has one of the nicest turf pedigrees I’ve seen in a long
time. He’s a deep closer, but if I think even if the pace is slow he’ll still
show that blazing turn of foot. He’s a very live long shot that I would play on
top and under Silver Max in exacta’s and trifecta’s.
9. 15/1 North
of Never- North Light Ire*
(Danehill) Sweet Solairo (Bernstein)
Torres F C – Anthony Granitz
North of Never seems to always run the same race. He’s
a deep closer who’s coming off a 4th place finish to Silver Max in
the Arlington Classic. He gets one of Arlington Park’s top jockeys to ride. He’s
only won one race, but he does seem to have a little talent. I believe he’s a
little over matched in here today. Only a superfecta possibility.
10. 5/1 Senor Rain- El Nino (Storm Cat) Make My Marq
Gomez G K – Peter Miller
Senor Rain is the lone Indiana Bred in the field, though
he’s only made one start in the Hoosier state. He gets one of the nation’s
leading jockeys to fly in from California for the mount. He’s faced the likes
of I’ll Have Another, Daddy Nose Best, Lucky Chappy, and Creative Cause. He’s
coming off of a strong 2nd place finish in an $80,000 optional
claimer on the turf. He was only beaten a nose by the Bob Baffert trainee
American Act, two back in the Harry Henson Stakes at Hollywood Park. He has to
break strong with this far outside post, but I’m just not sure if he’s good
enough. Look for trainer Peter Miller to leave Senor Rain in Indiana to compete
for the strong Indiana Bred stakes purses later in the meet.