This week in horse racing: Spotlight shifts to Ohio

By Jeremy Plonk  ( 

June 21, 2022 08:53 PM

It’s the one Saturday on the calendar where horseplayers across the country find their way to Ohio. The Grade 3 $500,000 Ohio Derby will be run for the 88th time and includes names familiar to those who followed the 2022 Triple Crown. Headliners include Florida Derby winner White Abarrio, Tampa Bay Derby champ Classic Causeway and Lexington winner Tawny Port — all exiting the Kentucky Derby. Ethereal Road, scratched from the Derby but a winner on the Preakness undercard in stakes company, also lines up in the field of eight. 

Top national jockeys Irad Ortiz Jr. and Tyler Gaffalione will be among those competing on the 11-race card. Post time for the first race is noon ET, with the Ohio Derby in Race 11 at 5:35 p.m. ET. The undercard is topped by the $250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes in Race 10, where Grade 1 winner Maracuja from New York and Grade 2 winner Crazy Beautiful from Kentucky meet up in a Distaff Division showdown. 

For those betting the Ohio Derby at Thistledown this week, the Betmix database offers several handicapping pointers, dating to the 2013 season in terms of local stakes races. 

Key Thistledown Stakes Stats 

Percentage of winning stakes favorites: 40% 

Average stakes win odds: 4.2-1 

Local stakes win percentages by track last raced: Churchill Downs (23%), Pimlico (13%), Belmont (13%), Thistledown (13%), Belterra (12%), Mahoning Valley (10%). Also note Keeneland (0-2), Oaklawn (0-4), Aqueduct (0-0) as relevant to Saturday's card

Triple Crown alumni have a strong 15: 4-3-5 record in the Ohio Derby over the past eight years. I’ll focus my attention on those horses. Tawny Port intrigues from a mid-pack trip for Brad Cox and Irad Ortiz Jr. and will be my pick. Cox has won major 3-year-old early summer stakes at Churchill and Monmouth in back-to-back weekends. Give a long shot look in the exotics to Barese, whose pace-pressing fifth in the Wood Memorial looks much better since that race produced the eventual Preakness (Early Voting) and Belmont Stakes (Mo Donegal) winners. 

What to Watch for This Week 

With the Santa Anita winter-spring meet concluded, racing in Southern California shifts to Los Alamitos until July 10, then pivots to Del Mar though Labor Day … Belmont Park features the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes on Saturday for the highly competitive 3-year-old filly division in 2022 … Mandaloun, promoted winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby following the disqualification of Medina Spirit, should turn in his final workout this weekend for the Grade 2 $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 2, an interesting return engagement to say the least. 

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

Trainer Claudio Gonzalez has been one of Gulfstream Park’s hottest in June with four wins from his first nine starters. He’ll have a pair of runners on Friday: No. 2 Splicer in Race 5 and No. 7 I Said Hey in Race 9. Both of these horses exit victories in June and have been part of the avalanche. Each will make a natural rise in class to face tougher competition, which could help boost the payoffs if the roll continues. Consider win bets on both. 

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.) 

— Mountaineer: 63%

— Evangeline Downs: 50% 

— Penn National: 50% 

— Presque Isle: 50% 

— Assiniboia Downs: 50% 

— Hawthorne: 50% 

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher) 

— Belmont: 8 

— Gulfstream: 5 

— Laurel: 4 

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Evin Roman (4-7, 57%), Pleasanton, Emerald Downs 

— Jorge Carreno (4-9, 44%), Assiniboia Downs 

— Antonio Reyes (4-9, 44%), Hastings Park 

— Gerald Almodovar (4-10, 40%), Charles Town, Penn National 

— Vicente Del-Cid (14-37, 38%), Evangeline Downs, Louisiana Downs 

America’s hot trainers last week 

— John Robb (4-8, 50%), Laurel, Charles Town, Penn National, Delaware 

— Jon Arnett (4-8, 50%), Prairie Meadows 

— Juan Pablo Silva (4-8, 50%), Mountaineer 

— Jonathon Buckley (4-8, 50%), Finger Lakes 

— Jamie Ness (11-27, 41%), Laurel, Delaware, Monmouth, Parx 


Enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on the Ohio Derby when you bet the big race with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet. If your win bet finishes second or third, you’ll receive your cash back up to $10. Also note that multi-race bettors on Thistledown’s Ohio Derby Day card will play for an additional $10,000 at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet in exclusive Pick 4 and Pick 5 hit-and-split promotions. 

Statistics courtesy of

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