Indiana Derby, Iowa Derby on Tap for Saturday Night: Picks, Odds

It’s Saturday Night at the Races for handicappers ready to bet on horse racing.

The $300,000 Indiana Derby (G3) and the $250,000 Iowa Derby are on tap featuring a pair of Kentucky Derby (G1) also-rans, Stronghold at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Just a Touch at Prairie Meadows (Iowa).

Red Route One, Hit Show top Cornhusker ‘Cap field

Earlier Saturday, it will be a big day at Aqueduct with the Belmont Derby (G1) and the Belmont Oaks (G1) for 3-year-olds on turf, and the Dwyer (G3) for 3-year-olds on dirt.

Stronghold, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1), returns for his first start since a disappointing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He worked 5 furlongs in 59.00 seconds at Santa Anita on Sunday (June 30) and was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Just a Touch, trained by Brad Cox, also returns after his last place run in the May 4 Derby. Despite his Derby showing, he’s the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Iowa Derby.

The 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby drew a field of eight 3-year-olds and has a post time of 6:41 p.m. (race 12); the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby has 11 entered and a post time of 10:08 p.m. (race 8). Post time for the Cornhusker Handicap after the Iowa Derby is 10:37 p.m

Indiana Derby

Trained by top California handler Phil D’Amato, Stronghold finished first or second in his first six races before the Derby, where he went off at 35-1 odds. A stalker who can also run on the lead will be tough to beat.

Among his top challengers are E J Won the Cup (5-2), and Dragoon Guard (7-2).

E J Won the Cup, who won the Texas Derby from a stalking position, is trained by California-based Doug O’Neill and will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The colt is 3-for-4 after starting his career 0-for-6. His most recent loss was a third in the Santa Anita Derby.

Dragoon Guard, trained by two-time Indiana Derby winner Brad Cox, has won two of three starts, including one on turf. He’s making his stakes debut and will be ridden by Florent Geroux.

Indiana Derby picks: 1 Stronghold 2 Real Men Violin 3 Dragoon Guard

 Iowa Derby

Despite finishing last of 20 in the Kentucky Derby, Just a Touch is a solid 9-5 top choice in a field of 11 over second choice Next Level (7-2) and Dimatic at 5-1. Mugatu, last of eight in the Preakness (G1), is 8-1 for trainer Jeff Engler.

Just a Touch was the hot horse heading into the Derby after runner-up finishes in the Gotham (G3) and the Blue Grass (G1), just the second and third races of his career. Sent off at 11-1, the son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify was bumped at the start, bumped again near the five-sixteenths pole, and never had a chance.

Also on the card at Prairie Meadows is the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap (G3), with New Orleans Classic (G2) winner Red Route One the 5-2 favorite and Hit Show (fifth in the 2023 Kentucky Derby) at 3-1 in a field of 11 going 1 1/8 miles.

Iowa Derby picks: 1 Dimatic 2 Just a Touch 3 Save the Trees

The field for the $300,000 Indiana Derby (G3), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Woodcourt (Emmanuel Esquivel, Cipriano Contreras), 10-1

2 Stronghold (Antonio Fresu, Phil D’Amato), 2-1

3 Real Men Violin (Brian Hernandez, Jr, Ken McPeek), 8-1

4 Kitty Hawk (Fernando De La Cruz, Victoria Oliver), 20-1

5 Informed Patriot (Ricardo Santana, Jr., Steve Asmussen), 15-1

6 Sir Greylind (Corie Lanerie, Grant Forster), 6-1

7 E J Won the Cup (Mike Smith, Doug O’Neill), 5-2

8 Dragoon Guard (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 7-2

The field for the $250,000 Iowa Derby, from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Mugatu (Joe Bravo, Jeff Engler), 8-1

2 Kitty Hawk (Fernando De La Cruz, Victoria Oliver), 20-1

3 Henron (Rafael Bejarano, Chris Hartman), 12-1

4 Northern Flame (Julien Leparoux, Ken McPeek), 8-1

5 Zatara (Alex Birzer, Doug Anderson), 20-1

6 Okie Clipper (Kevin Roman, Travis Murphy), 20-1

7 Next Level (Jareth Loveberry, Keith Desormeaux), 7-2

8 Dimatic (Cristian Torres, Steve Asmussen), 5-1

9 Just a Touch (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 9-5

10 Save the Trees (Elvis Gonzalez, Mike Maker), 10-1

11 Cascade Cruiser (Alexis Centeno, Louis Roussel III), 20-1



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