Saturday: Play trifecta wheels in Chicago, Ohio Derby

Saturday: Play trifecta wheels in Chicago, Ohio Derby
Photo: Liz Lamont / Eclipse Sportswire

Playing trifecta key wheels is one way to get a lower-priced horse to pay a decent return with a win. The trick is connecting with value runners underneath, or playing a straight ticket if the race lacks value options.

Here is short analysis and suggested trifecta key wheels for the Grade 3, $200,000 Chicago Stakes at Churchill Downs and Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Both races give spark to the weekend stakes action.

Churchill Downs Race 9: Chicago Stakes (G3)

On paper, Lady Rocket is supposed to secure an uncontested lead through a slow pace. While she has faded in her two starts this year in the Madison Stakes (G1) and Ruffian Stakes (G2), she gets an excuse for one of them.

In the Madison at Keeneland, Lady Rocket found herself in a three-way speed duel with Kimari and Club Car with initial TimeformUS Pace Figures of 149 and 141. As explained before, TimeformUS numbers become fast at 140.

Lady Rocket deserves at least one more chance to show she can convert an uncontested lead and slow pace into a big win. In addition, trainer Brad Cox excels at Churchill Downs, and he works well with Ricardo Santana Jr.

Pennybaker and Four Graces might provide value underneath.

The former name is a newcomer to this group. She won the Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel Park by an impressive 6 3/4 lengths in her North American debut after transferring over to trainer Michael Stidham’s barn from France.

Four Graces has been a familiar runner in the female sprint division. While she carries an eight-race losing streak into this race, her recent runner-up finish to Obligatory in the Derby City Distaff (G1) is a strong effort.

Sconsin came off the bench to win the Winning Colors Stakes while overcoming a slow pace. She also beat Bell’s the One in the local Open Mind Stakes last September. If Sconsin moves forward, she will be in the top mix.

Bayerness also made a successful return off a layoff to win the local Roxelana Stakes, albeit against weaker horses in a three-horse field.

Bell’s the One is capable of showing a powerful late punch when she fires. But her flat fourth-place finish in the Derby City Distaff is disappointing. Is this mare the same runner as last year? As a 6-year-old, the clock is ticking.

Win: 3 (at 5/2 or higher)

Trifecta wheel: 3 / 2,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7

Thistledown Race 11: Ohio Derby (G3)

White Abarrio owns useful tactical speed and the class advantage as the Florida Derby (G1) winner. No other horse here shows a Grade 1 victory. Although trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. primarily wins races in Florida or New York, he did ship Math Wizard to a runner-up finish in the 2019 Ohio Derby.

With those points in mind, White Abarrio is the top selection and key.

Perhaps Brigadier General can add some spice to the ticket. Two races ago, he ran a 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure while breaking his maiden at Keeneland in a one mile and one-sixteenth race. To put that number into perspective, White Abarrio also ran a 114 when capturing the Florida Derby.

On the rail, Barese has a shot at hitting the board too. His fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct against Mo Donegal and Early Voting is better than it looks on paper considering he went wide on both turns.

Tawny Port won the Lexington Stakes (G3) against slightly weaker competition before finishing seventh in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby.

Even Classic Causeway deserves a glance. After two bad races in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, he could rebound in this Grade 3 race under his new trainer Ken McPeek.

Win: 5 (at 5/2 or higher)

Trifecta wheel: 5 / 1,2,7,8 / 1,2,7,8

Trifecta wheel: 5 / 1,7,8 / 1,7,8

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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