Going “Wild” in Ohio Derby

The Ohio Derby is set to be run at Thistledown (a track on the outskirts of Cleveland) this Saturday, and the historic race drew a field of 10. The Ohio Derby is not graded, but it carries a lucrative purse of $500,000. Jockeys like Javier Castellano and John Velazquez will be making the trip for Ohio’s biggest horse race, so there will be a lot on the line in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game.

#8 MO TOM was set as the 5-2 morning-line selection in this mile-and-an-eighth contest, and he gets a rider upgrade to Javier Castellano for the first time. He was overmatched in the Kentucky Derby last time out, but ran into some legitimately troubled trips earlier this year at the Fair Grounds. However, those Derby preps at the Fair Grounds didn’t seem all that fast. I was less than enthused about taking this horse on top, so I looked elsewhere.

#6 WILD ABOUT DEB (5-1) seems like the right choice to pull off the upset. Trained by leading west coast conditioner Phil D’Amato, WILD ABOUT DEB blitzed a field of Santa Anita maidens in his 2016 debut, then flew cross-country to Belmont for the Peter Pan Stakes. He didn’t win there, but he was a decent third considering the extremely wide trip he got on the far turn. WILD ABOUT DEB recorded a solid five-furlong work to prep for this on June 12, and will once again have the services of top Mid-Atlantic jockey Trevor McCarthy.

#3 ADVENTIST was one of my favorite horses on the Derby trail, but he just hasn’t blossomed into the horse I thought he would become. He figured to do well in the Peter Pan, but instead he finished a flat fourth as the second-choice. He’ll also get a rider downgrade from Jose Ortiz to Aaron Gryder, who makes the trip for trainer Leah Gyarmati. He should be less keen early with blinkers off today though; maybe that will help him.

Longshot players might want to include #2 MO DON’T NO, a son of Uncle Mo who is coming off two straight convincing victories over this course, albeit at six furlongs. He seems to be the only legitimate speed type in the race.

The play: $4 exacta 6/3,8, $2 exacta 6/2 ($10)

DFJ angle: Even if Javier Castellano ($11,000) or John Velazquez ($10,000) were to win this race, it’s hard to justify investing that much money in them. However, their absence at Belmont could lead to some good opportunities for riders lower in the standings than them. Joel Rosario ($9,000) has six mounts at 3-1 or lower on the morning-line at Belmont, including 6-5 favorite Wavell Avenue in the Grade III, $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Handicap. Manny Franco ($9,000) has five mounts at 3-1 or lower at Belmont, including the second-choice in the Bed o’ Roses, West Coast Chick.

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