Ohio Derby Exotics Plays

June 20th, 2024

Ten sophomores will contest the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown on Saturday. The nine-furlong endeavor is led by Louisiana Derby (G2) star #8 Catching Freedom, who checked in fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the Preakness S. (G1) in his last two outings. 

Ohio Derby Exotics

  • $4 trifecta key 8 with 4,5,9 ($24)
  • $1 trifecta box 4,5,8,9 ($24)
  • 50-cent superfecta 8 with 4,5,9 with 4,5,9 with all ($21)

Catching Freedom is a stout late runner, and while it’s always a bit tricky rooting for a closing type in a field without an abundance of pace, the colt simply seems to be a level or two classier than his competition at this stage of his development. His lone run at 1 1/8 miles resulted in a strong third in the Risen Star S. (G2) in his yearly debut, and the son of Constitution appears to be training well with two swift morning drills in his last three works. Luis Saez will be in the silks. 

Four-time stakes winner #4 Copper Tax comes in off of a pair of route stakes wins for Gary Capuano and appears to be a nice fit in this field. The son of Copper Bullet flopped in his first pair of graded tries this campaign, but he has rebounded well from those attempts and I love how he ran down a clear one in the lane in the Tesio S. most recently. I long thought that he was solely a sprinter, but he has proven me wrong in two straight. I hope the bay stays fairly close to the expected moderate pace early with Torrealba in the irons. 

Butch Reid’s #5 Uncle Heavy, winner of the Withers S. (G3) earlier this season, comes off of unplaced efforts in both the Wood Memorial (G2) and Preakness (G1), but he has appeal on this day. The Keystone State-bred son of Social Inclusion faces a bit softer and he will not be left with as much to do in the lane while rating off of a moderate early tempo on Saturday. I’m not fond of his winning chances in the contest, but he will be an exotics player late with his best showing. The price will be right with regular pilot Sanchez in the controls. 

I have mixed emotions regarding #9 Batten Down, who was last seen dominating an average maiden cast at Churchill Downs for conditioner Bill Mott. This gray colt is bred to be a very good one and also has solid form, but I’m not sure how good he really is. The Juddmonte homebred will likely be overbet to some measure, but a top-three finish is well within reach if he takes a step forward. Junior Alvarado retains the ride.