Tag: cupid

The date for the 23rd running of the Grade III $500,000-added Indiana Derby has been set. Indiana’s richest horse race will be held Saturday, July 15 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.


The 23rd running of the Grade III $500,000-added Indiana Derby will take place Saturday, July 15. The event will highlight a 2017 stakes schedule that includes more than $4 million in purses.

The Indiana Derby began during the inaugural season of pari-mutuel Thoroughbred racing in 1995 at Hoosier Park and was moved to Indiana Grand in 2013 when the state established the Shelbyville track as the location for all Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. Over the years, the race has grown in status, displaying some of the best three-year-olds in the country. Last year’s event was won by Cupid for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert, who scored his fourth win in the race in the past eight years.

 The Grade III $200,000-added Indiana Oaks will join the Derby on the July 15 racing program that boasts more than one million in purse money each year. Indiana Derby Night will once again be complemented by other activities in the days surrounding the event along with other stakes races, bringing the attention of the horse racing world to Indiana during that time.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer

The good Cupid showed up for Indiana Grand’s $500,000 Indiana Derby on Saturday night, and the result was a hard-earned victory by three-quarters of length while fending off The Player’s late surge.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won Indiana’s biggest horse race for a record fourth time in absentia. He was at a nephew’s wedding in Mexico, with the race going off during the ceremony.

“This thing just ended, just getting over,” he said by phone. “I didn’t see it. I was in the church there, and I was just hoping that my phone would start going off a lot, because that’s a sign of victory. Because when it’s quiet, it’s not good. All of a sudden, I felt it buzz and buzz and buzz.

“I haven’t even talked to Jimmy (assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes)… I don’t even know who ran second… I’m just happy for the horse. His last race was so disappointing.”

Yes, Cupid showed heart in the Grade II race after being drubbed in his prior two starts: finishing 10th in the Arkansas Derby, after which he underwent throat surgery to correct a breathing obstruction, and then a bad last of five in Belmont Park’s non-graded Easy Goer Stakes. So in the Indiana Derby, handicappers had to decide whether the Cupid who won Oaklawn Park’s Grade II Rebel Stakes to look like a Kentucky Derby contender would resurface, or if the prior two fiascos were the new norm.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer


If all 12 start, this will be the largest Indiana Derby field ever. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of betting each horse:


Post 1 – Discreet Lover (jockey Jose Flores, trainer Uriah St. Lewis, owner Trin-brook Stables)

Pros: Philadelphia shipper has been knocking at the door, including finishing third in the Ohio Derby at 87-1 odds. He’s been working very well and could pull off the upset if there’s a hot pace.

Cons: Other closers are faster than he is. His 1-for-13 record doesn’t inspire confidence as far as hitting winners circle, though he has four seconds and two thirds.


Post 2 – Cherry Wine (jockey Luis Saez, trainer Dale Romans, owners William Pacella, Frank Jones and Frank Shoop)

Pros: No other horse in the field ran in the Triple Crown, and he finished second in the Preakness, beating Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. His 100 BRIS speed figure in the Preakness tops the field.

Cons: Finishing seventh in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont might have taken some starch out of him. He needs a fast pace up front, which is no sure thing.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer


Ian Wilkes knows a good horse when he’s around one. He trained 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned and was closely involved with Kentucky Derby winners Unbridled and Street Sense, among many others in his long association with Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger.

And Wilkes knew Thatcher Street — one of the favorites for Saturday’s $100,000 Warrior Veterans on Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby undercard — was a good horse when he began training the gelding four years ago. What he didn’t expect was that Thatcher Street would require 13 starts spread over three seasons to win a race, the first 10 on dirt before being switched to grass racing.

“He always ran well on the dirt; he didn’t run bad,” Wilkes said. “He just wouldn’t win. I said, ‘I’ve got to try him on the turf.’ And he’s done well since then. It’s the surface. He’d run good and he wouldn’t finish up a race like he does on the turf. That’s why he’s able to go to the next level. But he’d work good on the dirt; you’d run him and he’d get beat. You think, ‘Maybe we’ll try this.’ ‘Try that.’”

The now 5-year-old Thatcher Street, a son of Street Sense, possesses four wins, five seconds and a pair of thirds in 12 starts. His other turf race was a very close fourth in Keeneland’s Grade III Sycamore last spring. After winning Churchill Downs’ Opening Verse on May 21, Thatcher Street was a rallying third in Churchill Downs’ Grade II Firecracker. The winner that day: Opening Verse runner-up Pleuven.

“Speed, you had to be 1-2 that day, you couldn’t close from out of it,” Wilkes said of the Firecracker. “And that horse (Pleuven), he got a good position and he was better than us that day.”


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer

A capacity field of twelve 3-year-olds were entered Wednesday for Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand. But to trainer Bob Baffert, the Grade II race comes down to two horses.

One is the Cupid that won a Santa Anita maiden race by 5 1/4 lengths in fast time in his first start around two turns, then followed it up by leading all the way to defeat a good field in Oaklawn Park’s Grade II, $900,000 Rebel Stakes. That made him become something of a fashionable “wise-guy” pick for the Kentucky Derby.

The other is the Cupid of his past two starts, including languishing home 10th by a total of 11 1/4 lengths as the odds-on favorite in the Arkansas Derby when he returned to Oaklawn from California a month later. He underwent a throat procedure to correct a breathing obstruction that surfaced in the Arkansas Derby, knocking him out of the Kentucky Derby and possible Preakness berth. However, Cupid again faded to last of five, beaten 10 lengths, when he resumed racing in Belmont Park’s non-graded Easy Goer Stakes.

“He needs to fire, needs to show up,” Baffert said by phone from California after Cupid drew post 11. “He didn’t show up the last two times. If he shows up, he’ll be tough, no matter what post he’s in.”

Bill Downes, Indiana Grand’s odds-maker and track announcer, made the late-running Cherry Wine the 5-2 morning-line favorite, given his good efforts in some of the biggest races for 3-year-olds: a second in Pimlico’s Preakness after being a close third in Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass. The speedier Cupid is the 3-1 second choice. However, he wouldn’t be a surprising post-time favorite, given the way Baffert horses get bet. Rafael Bejarano comes in from California to ride.


Cherry Wine and Jockey Luis Saez have been tagged as the morning line favorites at odds of 5-2 in the full field of 12 for the 22nd running of the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Saturday, July 16. They will begin their journey from post two for the ninth race on the program with an estimated post time of 9:41 p.m. EST.

Cherry Wine comes into Indiana off a start in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, finishing second to Exaggerator in the Preakness. Trained by Dale Romans, the three-year-old grey son of Paddy O’Prado has accumulated more than a half million dollars in earnings in 2016 and will once again face Cupid, who defeated him in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in mid-March.

Cupid will attempt to give Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert his fourth overall win in the Indiana Derby. Baffert connected with Misremembered in 2009 followed by Lookin at Lucky in 2010 and then again with Power Broker in 2013. Cupid has been selected as the second choice on the morning line at odds of 3-1 and will be guided for the first time in his young career by Jockey Rafael Bejarano. Cupid, who is also grey, is the son of Tapit and made his last start on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes Day card, finishing fifth in the $150,000 Easy Goer (Listed) Stakes.

The early morning line odds have placed both Star Hill with Corey Lanerie aboard and The Player with Shaun Bridgmohan as the co-third choice of the field at odds of 6-1. Star Hill, trained by George Arnold II, was third in his last start on the undercard of Belmont Stakes Day in the Grade II $500,000 Woody Stephens. He will start from post 12.


By Jennie Rees, Eclipse Award-winning freelance writer


As great as the unbeaten Hall of Fame filly Personal Ensign was on the racetrack, she was as memorable as a broodmare, an extremely rare combination.

Now, six years after Personal Ensign’s death, she could play a role in Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand. Seeking Blame, who comes into the 1 1/16-mile, Grade II stakes off a strong maiden victory at Churchill Downs, is a son of Personal Ensign’s daughter Title Seeker.

Personal Ensign thrilled the racing world when, after rebounding from a potentially career-ending hind leg fracture at age 2, she got up on the last stride in the mud to beat Kentucky Derby heroine Winning Colors by a nose in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. It remains one of the Breeders’ Cup’s most memorable races and allowed Personal Ensign to retire 13 for 13.

She was equally influential as a mom and grandma, producing two-time Grade I winner My Flag, who in turn produced the champion filly Storm Flag Flying — marking three generations of Breeders’ Cup winners. Personal Ensign also gave birth to Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Miner’s Mark, Grade I Oaklawn Handicap winner Traditionally and Our Emblem, a useful horse best known as the sire of 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Personal Ensign’s nine foals to race all proved winners for owner-breeder Ogden Phipps and his family. Title Seeker, by 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, did not race and instead was sold as a 3-year-old at Keeneland’s November sale for $1.7 million to Charles Fipke, the geologist who helped found Canada’s first diamond mine. Title Seeker already has produced a graded-stakes winner in Seeking the Title.