The big race of the weekend is the 74th running of the $300K Ohio Derby (G2) being run at 1 1/8 miles at Magna's Thistledown outside of the greater Cleveland area.
The field for the race is as follows:
1 - Smooth Air/Manoel Cruz/Bennie Stutts, Jr./2-1
The field is fairly strong with two Derby horses, Smooth Air (who draws the rail) and Z Fortune both graded stakes winners leading the field as the top two morning line choices. Manny Cruz takes his ninth consecutive mount on the 3yo bay colt Smooth Air (11th in KD), winner of the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream in January and ran 2nd to Big Brown in the Florida Derby (G1). Z Fortune won the LeComte at the Fair Grounds in early January and was the 2nd place finisher behind Gayego in the Arkansas Derby (G2). Medjool is the third choice at 7-2, and gets a new rider in Jose Caraballo. He is by 2002 Derby champion Monarchos out of Perfect Story, and has run all of his races on synthetic surfaces. Your Round has hit the board in 5 of his 7 races (only once on dirt in a N1X), but has faced decent competition. Instill has the second highest BSF (101) coming off his last race at Hawthorne, but is probably a candidate to bounce. Cherokee Artist has the red-hot Jeremy Rose aboard after breaking his maiden on Derby Day at Churchill.
I’m looking for Z Fortune to rebound under Gomez and prevail over Cherokee Artist and Smooth Air. In the exotics I will use Your Round and Medjool underneath.
In Belmont news, the undercard possibilities were released on Thursday by NYRA where there will be a guaranteed $1M Pick-6 starting in race six and a guaranteed $1M Pick-4 starting in race eight, both concluding with the Belmont Stakes.