The last three winners of the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) competed in the Kentucky Derby and the trend could hold for Saturday’s 84th renewal at JACK Thistledown as top contenders Flameaway and Lone Sailor both raced in the first leg of the American Triple Crown.
Flameaway, who stamped his Kentucky Derby ticket winning the Sam F. Davis (G3) and finishing second in the Blue Grass (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2), has been installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line among 12 entrants. A chestnut son of Scat Daddy, sire of Triple Crown winner Justify, Flameaway found the 1 ¼-mile distance too taxing when weakening to 13th under the Twin Spires but the versatile colt should appreciate the cut back to 1 1/8 miles and class relief Saturday. Jose Lezcano retains the mount for Mark Casse.
Lone Sailor earned his Kentucky Derby berth with a neck second in the TwinSpires Louisiana Derby (G2) and rallied belatedly for eighth in the slop at Churchill Downs. He improved upon that effort when finishing fifth, beaten only two lengths by Justify, in the Preakness last time and the Majestic Warrior colt will try to give trainer Tom Amoss his second Ohio Derby victory in three years following Mo Tom’s success in 2016. Irad Ortiz Jr., who picked up the mount at Pimlico, will guide the 3-1 second choice.
“It’s no secret how Lone Sailor is going to run,” Amoss said “He’ll drop back and make his run. We’re hoping it sets up for a closer. We’re hoping the field holds together and looking for the speed to give him the proper setup. But this is a harder field than when we won the first time.
“He did not have a good trip in the Kentucky Derby and even though he only got beat a couple of lengths in the Preakness, it seemed the proper move now to try one of the Midwest derbys.”
Diamond King also has Triple Crown experience, checking in seventh in the Preakness. The Jason Servis-trained son of Quality Road captured the Federico Tesio at Laurel two starts back at the Ohio Derby distance and Frankie Pennington will regain the mount aboard the early 6-1 fourth choice.
Core Beliefs is listed at 5-1 following a runner-up finish in the May 12 Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park. A maiden scorer when making his third career outing on March 8, the Quality Road colt recorded a non-threatening third to Justify when making his first attempt against winners two starts ago in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Core Beliefs brings good speed to the equation and Joe Talamo will be in to ride for Peter Eurton.
O’Kratos invades from Woodbine with a two-race win streak, taking the May 13 Marine (G3) most recently on the Tapeta, and Channing Hill will be up for Darwin Banach. Steve Asmussen has a pair in the field, stakes-placed Title Ready and Sunland Derby (G3) runner-up Dream Baby Dream. Machismo gave a commendable effort earlier this season when fourth in his takes bow, the Fountain of Youth (G2), but must rebound from well-beaten efforts in the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby (G1).