How I’m betting the Iowa Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 6th, 2017

Most of the runners in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) are seeking a measure of redemption following recent setbacks, but McCormick enters on the upswing for Ian Wilkes. The intriguing 3-year-old will bring a two-race win streak into his stakes debut Friday night at Prairie Meadows.

By Hard Spun and out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Affluent, the regally-bred colt switched to turf after his initial outing and recorded a respectable third to the up-and-coming Arklow at Keeneland when making his third career start in April. His next race was moved off the turf on the Kentucky Oaks undercard and McCormick overcame a less-than-favorable trip to break his maiden at 1 1/8-miles.

McCormick displayed improved early speed in the maiden win and utilized front-running tactics when stepping up to face a nice group of entry-level allowance foes at Churchill Downs on June 4, finishing full of run as he drew away to a smart 2 ½-length victory. He registered a career-best 94 BRIS Speed Rating, the top last-out figure in the Iowa Derby field on a fast track.

The bay sophomore drew well in post 3 with a returning Julien Leparoux and given the presence of no need-the-lead types in the line-up, McCormick is eligible to be setting the pace. Whether dictating terms or tracking closely, he figures to receive a perfect set-up with a moderate pace expected in the 1 1/16-mile event.

I will play against a pair of familiar names, Hence and Petrov, at short odds.

Hence’s win behind a wicked pace in the Sunland Derby (G3) looks more like an aberration at this point as the Street Boss colt has offered little-to-nothing in three other stakes attempts. Listed at 5-1 on the morning line, the Triple Crown veteran could be much shorter with Mike Smith up. Petrov cut back to a sprint with a decent fourth in the Woody Stephens (G2) last out and his only win came at 6-furlongs. The gray colt is much more consistent than Hence, placing in a trio of stakes, but I will look for more at one-turn distances in the future.

Impressive Edge registered an eye-catching 103 BRIS Speed Rating in the Peter Pan (G2) last time, but it came on a wet track and he hasn’t been a serious factor in a pair of two-turn starts. He registered only an 87 Speed figure defeating allowance/optional claiming foes at 7-furlongs three back. Jerrid, who is one of two runners to win their last start along with McCormick, will need to run much faster to challenge and the same applies to Balandeen, Line Judge and Thirstforlife.

Silver Dust is my second choice. The Tapit colt jumped straight to Kentucky Derby preps after breaking his maiden but had little success in the Southwest (G3), Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He came back with an improved effort last time, just missing second behind McCormick, and is eligible to show more returning to stakes competition in this spot.

I will play McCormick to win and key Silver Dust underneath in vertical exotics.

Late Pick 4 (Races 7-10)

The Late Pick 4 kicks off in Race 7 and includes the Iowa Distaff (Race 8) and Iowa Derby (Race 9). McCormick (#3) is a single and I am using Mywomanfromtokyo, Walkabout and Brooklynsway (1,2,7) in the Iowa Distaff.

I will spread with five horses in the first leg (1,2,4,5,7) and six horses in the final leg (2,3,4,7,8,9).

50-cent Pick 4 ticket: 1,2,4,5,7 with 1,2,7 with 3 with 2,3,4,7,8,9 ($45)

Good luck!