September 20, 2018

King Zachary enters Indiana Derby on the upswing

King Zachary impressively ruled the Matt Winn (G3) (Coady Photography)

After notching his first stakes tally in the Matt Winn (G3), King Zachary will attempt to keep his momentum rolling in Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3). Nine 3-year-olds are set for the 1 1/16-mile test, one of six stakes on the centerpiece program at Indiana Grand.

The 10-race card gets underway at 5:30 p.m. (ET) and scheduled post time for the Indiana Derby is 9:48.

Listed as the 6-5 favorite on the morning line, King Zachary has won three of his last four starts for Dale Romans. After breaking his maiden by a 7 ¾-length margin in mid-March, the Curlin colt jumped straight to stakes company with a well-beaten sixth in the Wood Memorial (G2). He rebounded with a victory over entry-level allowance foes on the Kentucky Derby undercard and finished full of run when returning to stakes company last time, drawing away to a commanding 4 ¾-length score and registering a career-best 99 BRIS Speed rating in the June 16 Matt Winn. Regular rider Robby Albarado will be up.

One of three California invaders in the line-up, Axelrod comes next on the morning line at 5-1. A two-time winner on dirt as a juvenile, the son of Warrior’s Reward made his first two appearances on turf this season before switching back to the main track with a runner-up in the June 10 Affirmed (G3) at Santa Anita. Florent Geroux picks up the mount for Mike McCarthy.

Blame the Rider will make his first start outside of Santa Anita for Doug O’Neill. Installed as the 6-1 third choice, the Jimmy Creed colt brings favorable turf form to the Midwest, winning the Singletary two back and finishing second in the June 16 Rainbow most recently, but Blame the Rider is winless from five dirt attempts. Julien Leparoux will take over the reins.

Dark Vader completes the West Coast contingent. Conditioned by Peter Eurton, the Grade 3-placed colt merits respect following a neck third in the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard and Corey Nakatani will be in to ride. Dark Vader is listed at 8-1 along with Presque Isle stakes victor Trigger Warning, who exits a decent third in the June 23 Ohio Derby (G3). Irwin Rosendo has the call on the Mike Rone-trained Trigger Warning.

Pat Day Mile (G3) upsetter Funny Duck, fourth in the Matt Winn, is also entered. Completing the field are Ohio Derby fourth Title Ready; maiden winner Givemeaminit; and Indiana-bred The Money Dance.

Talk Veuve to Me tops a field of eight sophomore fillies in the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3). An 11-length maiden winner in late March, the Violence filly exits commendable runner-up finishes in the Eight Belles (G2) and Acorn (G1), the latter coming against divisional leader Monomoy Girl. Leparoux takes the assignment for Rudolph Brisset. Her rivals include stakes winner Kelly’s Humor and Skeptic, who will make her stakes debut for Rusty Arnold off an impressive allowance score at Churchill Downs.

In the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, Clark H. (G1) winner Seeking the Soul will return from a near six-month freshening against seven foes at a mile and 70 yards. The 5-year-old was last seen finishing fifth in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) for Dallas Stewart and Brian Hernandez Jr. will guide.

Lovely Bernadette has compiled three graded stakes wins since capturing the Indiana Grand S. over the course last September and heads a cast of nine in the $100,000 Indiana Grand Assembly Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The 4-year-old filly made her first start for new trainer Bernie Flint a winning one in the June 9 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs.

The $100,000 Warrior Veterans at 1 1/16 miles on turf and $100,000 Mari Hulman George for distaffers at 1 1/16 miles on the main track will also be offered.

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