Cherry Wine seeks first stakes win in Indiana Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 13th, 2016

Runner-up in the Preakness (G1) and third in the Blue Grass (G1), Cherry Wine will pursue his first stakes victory when he lines up for Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2). The Dale Romans trainee has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite among 12 sophomores in the 1 1/16-mile test at Indiana Grand.

A son of Paddy O’Prado, Cherry Wine packs a serious late punch, registering a 112 BRIS Late Pace rating when edging Nyquist for second at Pimlico two starts previously. The gray colt should appreciate the class relief following a seventh in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and adds a new rider in Luis Saez.

Cherry Wine received a favorable draw in gate 2, but 3-1 second choice Cupid must overcome post 11 as he attempts to regain lost form. The Tapit colt followed a February maiden score with a sharp tally in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 19, but he’s run poorly in the last two outings for Bob Baffert.

Cupid exited a 10th in the Arkansas Derby (G2) with a trapped epiglottitis and following minor surgery to correct the problem, the gray returned two months later with a clunker in the Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard, weakening to last among five runners as the odds-on favorite. He’ll pick up the services of Rafael Bejarano.

The Player and Star Hill come next on the morning line at 6-1.

The Indiana Derby marks the stakes debut for The Player, who has established himself as highly promising prospect for trainer Buff Bradley in recent months. The Street Hero rolled to an eye-catching 5 ½-length maiden win at Churchill Downs on May 14 and came back three weeks later to easily defeat a salty allowance field over the same oval. Shaun Bridgmohan will guide the forwardly-placed chestnut.

Star Hill enters on the upswing for Rusty Arnold following a close third in the Woody Stephens (G2) at Belmont, beaten less than a length by runner-up Fish Trappe Road, who came back to capture last weekend’s Dwyer (G3). Star Hill will keep Corey Lanerie, who also had been the regular rider for Cherry Wine, but the Elusive Quality colt didn’t receive the best starting spot in post 12.

Tom Amoss will send out Pilot House, who returns to stakes competition following a pair of allowance wins. Whateverybodywants faces a class check following a nice win in the Prairie Mile for Kellyn Gorder and Seeking the Blame also steps up after rolling to a convincing maiden tally in his second career start for Dallas Stewart.

The Indiana Derby is the centerpiece of a 10-race card that includes six stakes.

One race prior to the main event, 3-year-old fillies will be in the spotlight in the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G2). Family Tree is the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile event following a two-length triumph in the Iowa Oaks (G3) for trainer Wayne Catalano. Julien Leparoux will pick up the mount on the chestnut daughter of Smart Strike.

Other runners in the eight-horse field include Grade 2 winner Dothraki Queen, who finished fourth in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) two starts back; Santa Anita invader Emmzy, who brings a two-race win skein into her stakes bow for Baffert; and Grade 2 runner-up Dream Dance.

Cherry Wine photo courtesy of Coady Photography/Churchill Downs