Mr. Money is a surprise visitor to Indiana this weekend to contest the $500,000, 1 1/16 mile Indiana Derby. He’s the ultra-impressive winner of two straight stakes – Pat Day Mile, Matt Winn Stakes – both at Churchill Downs, his home track.
Regular rider Gabriel Saez will be in the irons for Indiana’s richest and most important race.
Most were expecting that Brett Calhoun would be targeting the $1 million Haskell Stakes July 20 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey for his trainee’s next appearance. Mr. Money is just one of a large group of horses now peaking after failing to impress enough to make the gate in the Kentucky Derby.
Although, participating in the $3 million Kentucky Derby is always the dream, often the reality is that many three-year-olds come into form too late for that race, the first Saturday in May. However, the late bloomers have a plethora of big-money options that include this race at Indiana Grand, the Haskell and the $1.25 million Travers Aug. 24 at Saratoga, in Upstate New York.
Competition Unafraid, Full Field Awaits Mr. Money
Despite Mr. Money’s impressive wins at Churchill Downs, the Indiana Derby is attracting a full field of contenders from the barns of top trainers. Among them: Kentucky Derby entrants Gray Magician (Peter Miller),and Long Range Toddy (Steve Asmussen). Others not intimidated by Mr. Money are Ohio Derby runner-up Math Wizard (Saffie Joseph), Alwaysmining (Kelly Rubley) and the always dangerous Roiland (Tom Amoss)
“You’ve got a race pretty close to home for us, two hours away at Indiana Downs,” Calhoun said Monday morning. “It’s a nice purse, $500,000. We think it’s the least-stressful shipping situation for him. Our goal all along has been to keep this horse fresh for as long on the 3-year-old campaign as we can.”
To be a top three-year-old, a horse has to be able to take his game on the road. Mr. Money, who’ll be breaking from the difficult 11th post position in the 11-horse field, has to prove himself away from Louisville. His record sports an impressive fourth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall.
However, that race also was at Churchill Downs. His three lifetime wins are all in Louisville.
Expect post time for the Indiana Derby around 4 pm ET. For the complete field and their connections, click here.
Wait Over, Game Winner Returns Saturday
Fans and bettors are anxiously awaiting Game Winner, the 2018 two-year-old champ’s return to the races. The off track and roughly run Kentucky Derby did not allow this talented son of Candy Ride to show his stuff that day and he has not been seen in a race since.
Now, he’s back Saturday in the Los Alamitos Derby in Southern California. The paucity of horses on the Southern California circuit is apparent in this $150,000 race at 1 1/8 mile. That’s because just three others are testing Game Winner. Bob Baffert, Game Winner’s conditioner, also has Kingly in the race.
Serious bettors are likely to be passing on this race with Game Winner likely to be at 1/5. However, they’ll still be watching because in past years it provides an important springboard for highly successful late season campaigns for Shared Belief (2014) and West Coast (2017). Shared Belief won the Pacific Classic in his next start after winning the Los Alamitos Derby. West Coast followed up his Los Alamitos Derby conquest by winning the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
For the Los Alamitos Derby field, click here. Expect the horses to leave the starting gate at 6:28 pm ET.