Ellis Park Derby field analysis and exotics plays

August 11th, 2023

Seven sophomores will race one mile in the $250,000 Ellis Park Derby on Sunday as part of a packed 10-race card featuring six non-graded stakes.

Below we examine the full Ellis Park Derby field and offer our best exotics plays — including exacta, trifecta, and superfecta tickets — for Race 8 at Ellis Park on Aug. 13.

Ellis Park Derby selections

  • #5 Blue Light (6-1)
  • #7 Transect (7-2)
  • #4 Loyal Company (6-1)

Ellis Park Derby exotics

  • $3 Exacta: 5 with 1, 4, 7 ($9)
  • $1 Trifecta: 5 with 1, 4, 7 with 1, 4, 7, 8 ($9)
  • 20-cent Superfecta: 5, 7 with 1, 4, 5, 7 with 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 with 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 ($10.40)

#1 Tumbarumba (8-1): The Oscar Performance gelding won back to back at Keeneland and Churchill when racing between 6 1/2 furlongs and seven while posting Brisnet Speed figures in the mid-90s, then finished a distant sixth over sloppy ground in the seven-furlong Maxfield S. at Ellis last out. Trainer Brian Lynch is just a 4% winner with horses going from short to long, and Tumbarumba has only raced a mile or farther twice, both times finishing far back in 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimers on Gulfstream’s turf. Rafael Bejarano will pick up the mount and is winning at a 20% clip this meet.

#2 Olazabal (25-1): Early pacesetter returned to dirt two starts back and finished eighth in his last two when racing between six and 6 1/2 furlongs. Trainer Eric Foster is 1-for-22 this meet and 1-for-20 in non-graded stakes, while he’s just a 5% winner with horses going from short to long. Walter Rodriguez will retain the mount on the Bolt d’Oro colt.

#3 Denington (4-1): The Gun Runner three-year-old came home fourth to How Did He Do That last out in the Iowa Derby and posted a 97 Brisnet figure with a 110 Late Pace rating. The late closer has failed to reach the winner’s circle in his last five starts, three of which were graded stakes, and will cut back to a mile for the first time since January, but his only two career victories came at 8 1/2 furlongs. Kenny McPeek is a 22% winner in non-graded stakes and a 17% winner with routes. Corey Lanerie will regain the mount and guided Denington to his most recent win, in February at Fair Grounds.

#4 Loyal Company (6-1): The Frosted colt flashed a career-best 99 Brisnet figure last out in his fourth career start when winning a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Ellis on July 8. He’ll stretch back out to a mile for his second try at a route and was a four-length third to next-out Curlin S. victor Scotland when running a mile two back. The Brendan Walsh pupil will retain the services of Declan Cannon, a 30% winner this meet who is 3-for-13 paired with Walsh the last two months. Walsh is a 20% winner with horses that won their last race but an 8% winner with horses going from a sprint to a route.

#5 Blue Light (6-1): By City of Light, the front-runner recorded his second win in his fourth career start, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer at this track, and beat a next-out stakes winner. Trainer Steve Asmussen is an 18% winner with horses racing at a route distance the first time and a 17% winner this meet. Florent Geroux (35% winner at Ellis) will stay in the saddle and is 6-for-12 when teaming up with Asmussen over the last 60 days. The three-year-old posted a career-best 91 Brisnet figure last out and has looked sharp in morning workouts leading up to his first stakes attempt.

#6 Release McCraken (8-1): The three-year-old gelding won a stakes three back when racing a mile and 70 yards at Sam Houston, then cut back to a sprint distance in his last two and finished third and fourth in a pair of stakes. The son of McCraken may improve with the stretch back out in distance, and trainer Bret Calhoun is a 23% winner with horses running second start off a layoff. Francisco Arrieta (15% winner this meet) will retain the mount.

#7 Transect (7-2): Another front-running type, the Gun Runner three-year-old won two back at today’s distance at Horseshoe Indianapolis, then came home fourth to Verifying in the Indiana Derby (G3) when yielding after being bumped at the three-sixteenths pole. Trainer Paulo Lobo (33% winner this meet) will remove the blinkers and strikes at a 24% rate with shippers. Cristian Torres (19% winner with routes) will pick up the mount on the class dropper and has posted a 32-8-3-5 mark over the last week.

#8 How Did He Do That (5-2): The other runner from Asmussen’s barn, the Good Magic colt is coming off a win as a 48-1 longshot in the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby and will cut back to a mile, a distance from which he’s finished second and fifth while facing stakes company. Last out, the three-year-old recorded a 101 Brisnet figure, the highest last race speed rating among the field, and recorded two sharp workouts in the interim. Brian Hernandez Jr. (an 11% winner this meet) will pick up the mount.