How to bet the Ontario Derby

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TwinSpires Staff

October 12th, 2018

Woodbine (c) WEG/Michael Burns Photography

by Dick Powell

Six-horse fields can yield profits but you have to have a laser-like focus. There’s not enough runners to spread out in exotics so my choice has always been straight exactas and win bet if the price is right. Saturday’s Ontario Derby (Can-G3) run at nine furlongs on the Tapeta at Woodbine only attracted six runners but that doesn’t mean we can’t make money.

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CURLIN’S HONOR (#1) (4-1) made one start on Woodbine’s Tapeta last May and went gate-to-wire to beat stakes foes going six furlongs in fast time. Since then, he has raced on turf at three different tracks but now stretches out to nine furlongs back on the Tapeta for Mark Casse. Irad Ortiz Jr. is in for the mount, and Curlin’s Honor has enough gate speed to take advantage of post 1.

LOOKIN TO STRIKE (#2) (6-1) is an interesting runner if you just focus on his Tapeta starts. He began his career on the turf and broke his maiden second time out going seven furlongs at Woodbine last year. The bay colt finished up his season with a tiring effort going two turns in his Tapeta debut against Grade 3 foes. He returned six months later with two dull efforts on the dirt in Kentucky before shipping back to Woodbine and recording a sharp win against first-level allowance foes. Lookin to Strike tired in the Toronto Cup going this distance on turf in late July but bounced right back with a sharp win against second-level allowance foes last out. The son of Lookin at Lucky has the highest BRIS Speed rating on synthetic tracks and shows up here off two straight wins over it.

MR RITZ (#3) is the 7-5 morning-line favorite who won on Polytrack in December in England while making his career debut. After a Woodbine turf race five months later, he missed by a neck for his Tapeta debut then came back on the turf and won two straight, including the $200,000 Caesars Stakes last out at Indiana Grand. The Oasis Dream sophomore has trained extremely well for this and draws in the middle with Eurico da Silva.

STRIKE ME DOWN (#4) (2-1) won his Tapeta debut in his third career start and first start of this year. He rallied some to be fourth going 1 1/4 miles in the Queen’s Plate in a rough trip, then went to Saratoga and lost two photo finishes on the turf there for Graham Motion. The son of Tapit has a big, late kick and has trained extremely well on the Tapeta at the Fair Hill training center. He also picks up Jose Ortiz.

FLIGHT DECK (#5) is a 15-1 longshot who has not won a race in 13 months. He has never won on Tapeta and the race would have to fall apart for him to have any chance.

PEPPERED (#6) (8-1) broke his maiden by seven lengths going long at Woodbine second time out last year in good time, then came back with a second in the Grey Stakes (Can-G3). After a couple of failed efforts on the dirt, he returned to Woodbine’s Tapeta with three straight even races. He doesn’t look as fast as some of the others but picks up Johnny Velazquez.


Lookin to Strike is terrific value as the third or fourth choice in the wagering. He draws inside, has very good speed, has the highest BRIS Speed rating on synthetic tracks and is ready for the move back up in class. Mark Casse wins 20 percent first start after a win and 21 percent with his synthetic-track starters. Gary Boulanger rides back, and Lookin to Strike’s two easy breezes since his last allowance win indicate that he is ready.


Win: #2

Exacta: #2 with 1 and 3

Exacta (for less money to protect): #1 and 3 with 2