With the Ellis Park Derby arriving later today, Tim Holland provides his racing expert picks for this day in racing at Ellis Park, Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, and Monmouth Park.
George Weaver wins with 20% of his first-time starters and saddles #2 Modest (12-1), a debuting daughter of Flatter, who is out of a half-sister to Santa Margarita (G1) winner Tara’s Tango. Works include a decent 4-furlong move in :48 2/5 from the gate and Weaver has won with 25% of his runners since the beginning of this year. $175K yearling purchase appears ready for a good first outing with Castellano taking the mount.
Maidens on turf include #3 L’Indiscret (4-1), who made belated progress when fifth over 7 furlongs at Belmont early last month in her first start since her debut in March. Extra distance should be an asset for the daughter of War Front, who is out of Beauty Parlor, winner of the Orchid (G3). Trainer Tagg wins with 12% of his runners on grass and filly can be along late with Franco remaining aboard.
Trainer Cox wins with 26% of his second-time starters and sends out #9 More Than Unusual (6-1), who closed to finish fourth over one mile in her debut at Churchill in June. Daughter of More Than Ready is out of a mare by Unusual Heat, and Cox wins with 26% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. 3-year-old can be along late under Bridgmohan, who has won with 26% of his rides for the barn in the past 60 days.
#10 Fabricate (8-1) was a rare first-out winner for trainer Wilkes when rallying from just off the pace over 6 furlongs at Churchill in June. Daughter of promising young sire Speightster has worked well since her debut for Wilkes, who wins with 17% of his runners that broke their maiden last time out. Dark bay can be in good position throughout with Hernandez retaining the mount.
#5 Casual (5-1) was no match for the very talented Gamine when unplaced in the Acorn (G1) in her latest at Belmont in June, but was fairly impressive winning her first two outings. Trainer Asmussen wins with 19% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days and daughter of Curlin is out of Lady Tak, who won the Test (G1). Chestnut can be forwardly placed from the start with Lanerie in the irons.
Trainer Arriagada won with three of his last nine runners that had not raced for 90+ days and saddles #6 Disturbingthepeace (7-2), who has not been seen since finishing fourth behind subsequent Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Ete Indien in his debut in September. Son of Stormy Atlantic is a half-brother to three winners and has been working well for Arriagada, who has won with 16% of his starters this year. Colt can be running from just off the pace with Arroyo riding.
A competitive field for the Oceanport Stakes includes #10 Empire of War (10-1), who rallied from off the pace to win his latest at Keeneland last month in his first start since late March. Son of Declaration of War disappointed in his first four starts for Maker, but won the Awad as a juvenile when trained by Todd Pletcher. Bay has a record of 10-3-1-1 on turf and can be stalking the early leaders with Gallardo in the saddle.