This Saturday sees the running of the premier race of the Indiana Grand race schedule, with the running if the Grade 3 Indiana Derby.
9 Fillies Set to Go in Rachel Alexandra
Nine fillies are set to contest the Grade 2, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes February 20 at Fair Grounds in a race with definite implications for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in May.
Stageplay is the clear-cut 7/5 favorite for trainer Steve Asmussen after posting a workman-like effort in the Silverbulletday Stakes January 16 while earning her first victory around two turns. The race marked the talented filly’s first start as a three year-old following a promising juvenile campaign where she won 2 of 3 starts. Stageplay’s lone defeat came over a sloppy Churchill Downs racetrack November 28 where the gray or roan daughter of Curlin finished a non-threatening second. If there is any knock against Stageplay it’s that her Beyer Speed Figures have flat-lined in her last three starts, posting consecutive figures of 83, 82 and 82. Nevertheless, she holds a clear speed advantage over the field and another filly will have to improve to beat her.
Forever Darling ships east
Forever Darling (7/2) ships in from the west coast following a 2016 debut winning performance in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez January 2 at Santa Anita. That race was at the six and a half furlong distance, with her lone try around two turns producing a disappointing eighth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Richard Baltas-trained filly, however, has proven class and is bred to handle the route distance. She cannot be dismissed despite the poor effort, and is a logical choice to topple the favorite.
Maiden winner steps up
Shaken (12/1) enters the race off just a single maiden race, but was a smashing debut winner January 30 at Fair Grounds. Trained by Michael Stidham, the precocious daughter of Uncle Mo looked professional stalking the early speed and kicking clear in the lane. She gives up plenty of experience and will have to handle the extra ground, but is an appealing price.
Players looking to create betting value in the 2016 Preakness May 21 at Pimlico face a familiar dilemma in horse racing: create value underneath the heavy favorite or decide whether the heavy favorite is beatable for the top spot.
On Thursday at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby week festivities will begin with the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile Stakes. The five-furlong contest has drawn a field of nine two-year-olds.
Likely a top three betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator is a bit of a puzzling case as handicappers begin the process of sorting out contenders in the weeks leading up to the big race.