The Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby consists of a field of seven, three of which appear bent on getting the lead at any cost and another who appears in over his head.
The first group starts with of Parx Spring Derby winner Bethlehem Road, who is undefeated in three races to date and who has led at every point of call in every one of those three starts. The other two are Going for Gold, who adds blinkers while stretching out from one turn to two turns, and Dare Day, who is also stretching out and who has led at every point of call in his two starts to date.
Then there's Math Wizard, who although fourth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April, did not improve when fourth of 11 in the Oaklawn Park Invitational Stakes in May and who has raced in claiming races for most of his career. After discounting the chances of those four horses, we are left with three who stand out in terms of how they have fared this year.
Long Range Toddy was proven at the level last fall when winning the Springboard Mile Stakes and again this spring when victorious in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. Owendale won the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes in April and was a very fast closing third in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes last month. Global Campaign improved markedly off a fifth place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes to win the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes. One of those three is highly probable to win this year's Ohio Derby with their best effort.
Global Campaign is the horse I think is most likely to win this race. In the Peter Pan Stakes last month, Global Campaign stalked the pacesetter in second for the first mile then took over quickly to lead by three lengths. Although the winning margin diminished a bit in the last eighth of a mile, ending at one and one-quarter lengths, it was sufficient to earn a 103 Equibase Speed Figure, which was the same figure Global Campaign earned two months earlier when fifth of 11 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. The most significant thing about the Peter Pan might be the fact runner-up Sir Winston returned four weeks later to post the 10 to 1 upset in the Belmont Stakes. As such, Global Campaign can be expected to run as well, or better, than he did in the Peter Pan by virtue of how well Sir Winston ran. It must also be noted Global Campaign is bred to be a star as two of his three siblings (from the dam Globe Trot) are stakes winners, most notably Bolt d'Oro, who earned over $1 million in his career. Particularly as Global Campaign is likely to be the one closest to the pacesetters, he should get first run on that group as they tire from their early efforts, and just as he did in the Peter Pan, Global Campaign can open up with an eighth of a mile to go and hold off late runners Owendale and Long Range Toddy.
Owendale was flying fast in the last quarter mile of the Preakness, rallying from ninth to third and missing second by a nose on the wire. Having earned a career-best 106 when putting in a similar rally going from eighth to first in the Lexington Stakes one month earlier, the 105 figure Owendale earned in the Preakness appears to set him up for another career-best effort. Prior to leaving his home base at Churchill Downs, Owendale put in a strong five furlong workout which was the best of 21 on the day and which demonstrated he is still in peak condition. With it being likely there will be a very fast past in front of him, it is entirely possible Owendale can go from last to first to win the Ohio Derby.
Long Range Toddy ran the best race of his career, by far, when earning a 109 figure winning the Rebel Stakes by a neck in March. He also showed promise three months earlier when earning a 102 figure in the Springboard Mile Stakes but regressed to finish third in the Southwest Stakes in February before the Rebel. Following the Rebel, Long Range Toddy had no excuse when fading to sixth in the Arkansas Derby. Then, in the Kentucky Derby, Long Range Toddy was one of the horses affected when Maximum Security moved over on War of Will, which resulted in jockey Court pulling Long Range Toddy back sharply from second to 10th. Rested since finishing 17th (moved up to 16th via the disqualification of Maximum Security) in the race, Long Range Toddy could be very competitive in this race if he can rediscover the form shown in the Rebel and so he rounds out a trio of horses which stand out against the other four in this race in terms of their combined probability to win.
The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures is Bethlehem Road (100), Dare Day (99), Going for Gold (90) and Math Wizard (100).
Win contenders, in probability/preference order:
Long Range Toddy
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