Player Quick Pick: Ohio Derby at Thistledown for 7/19/2014

Molly Jo Rosen

July 19th, 2014

by Ryan Dickey

Thistledown 8 | 4:45 pm ET Ohio Derby for 3yo going 1-1/16 mi.


Almost Famous should be the prohibitive post-time favorite, barring inclement weather, which just MAY be a factor today.  A $500,000 purchase, Almost Famous has career earnings of $125,100 in his 8 career starts (3 as a two-year old, and 5 this year).  The winner’s portion of this $300,000 non-graded stakes race is $180,000, so this would be a very big chunk for his connections. Although the trainer hasn’t had a banner year, it’s obvious that this is his bread-and-butter colt of the barn, and there’s no reason to belief the horse isn’t as ready to go as can be.  It also helps to have a Hall of Fame jock in Calvin Borel up, and he’s piloted this son of Unbridled’s Song in all but two of his career races.  The 7-2 morning line should be no indication of his true odds at race time, unless, of course, it’s an off track.  Check the weather, and then the tote board, and play Almost Famous with a high degree of confidence.

VALUE HORSE: 12-East Hall

East Hall is one of the four horses in this race that were Triple Crown nominated.  Kentucky Derby runner Harry’s Holiday, the so-far over-hyped Cleburn, and your most probable winner Almost Famous are the others.  At 5-1 on the morning line (and assuming his odds may actually go up with a lot of money going to Almost Famous and Jessica’s Star), East Hall becomes very intriguing, especially in filling out exotics, and the under-appreciated place bet.  Yes, he has some negatives: the outside post, no wins this year in seven tries, and only having one place and one show in five tries at this distance.  But if you look at the horses he has raced against (Wildcat Red, Constitution, Ring Weekend, General a Rod, etc.), he’s got enough class and closing speed to hit the board at a decent price--especially if there’s an off track.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER: 9-Jessica’s Star

Jessica’s Star is off to a blazing start in his career.  Unraced as a two year old, he’s finished no worse than second in any of his six races this year.  He broke his maiden his second time out at the Fairgrounds, he won his first stakes race in the Prairie Mile, and followed that up with a win in his first graded stakes, when he beat Embellishing Bob and Kentucky Derby runner Vicar’s In Trouble in the G3 Iowa Derby.  This gelding is on a three race win streak, and has won 3-of-4 of his career races on off tracks.  If there’s inclement weather today, this is your race winner. The only thing preventing this horse from being the odds-on favorite here may be that the horse could use a rest.  His debut was in February at the Fairgrounds.  He raced there twice, then shipped to Keeneland for a race in April, then Churchill Downs for a race on the first Saturday in May.  He raced in Iowa on the last day of May, and then again 21 days ago.  He has the talent to compete for the victory, and on an off-track, he should win it.  But if the track stays dry and fast, this is Almost Famous’ race to win.  Play in exotics, and in multi-race bets.

WAGERING OPTIONS FOR $20 PLAYERS $10 WIN 4 ($10) $2 Exacta 4 over 9,12 ($4) $1 Trifecta box 4,9,12 ($6--total $22)

WAGERING OPTIONS FOR $50 PLAYERS $20 WIN 4 ($20) $4 Exacta 4 over 9,12 ($8) $2 Trifecta box 4,9,12 ($24--total $52)