Indiana Derby picks and fantasy analysis

Saturday’s Grade II, 500,000 Indiana Derby drew a solid cast of 12 three-year-olds. They’ll go one-and-one-sixteenth miles over the Indiana Grand oval when the latch springs on the program’s ninth race (approximately 9:41 p.m. EST). Remember to use this preview in determining your picks for FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

The two horses with the most star power in here are also the two program favorites; #2 CHERRY WINE (5-2) and #11 CUPID (3-1). However, I’ll be looking to play against both. CHERRY WINE gets a rider change to Luis Saez, and while that could signify in change in tactics, CHERRY WINE’s lack of natural early speed will probably put him too far behind the field early. As for CUPID, he comes in off two very poor efforts in a row for Bob Baffert. He might not have to work too hard up front and Rafael Bejarano coming in to ride is an encouraging sign, but I’m not entirely sure he’ll run back to his Rebel Stakes effort that made him a Kentucky Derby contender.

I settled on longshot #1 DISCREET LOVER (20-1) as my tepid top pick. He improved on his solid Parx form by putting forth a nice effort for third at a huge price in the Ohio Derby last time out. Judging by his late fade in that heat, he’ll appreciate the one-sixteenth cutback in distance. His mid-pack style should give him an ideal setup, but his 1-for-13 record is a red flag. I’ll definitely have backups.

#12 STAR HILL (6-1) once again draws an unfavorable post, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting the board in his last two starts. Corey Lanerie decided to stick with him, which is a confidence-booster. However, STAR HILL may not get the kind of pace that he’s closed into his last two outings, so tread carefully.

Finally, #5 THE PLAYER (6-1) has a good shot at sticking around late in this one. Shaun Bridgmohan, who’s ridden him to two straight frontrunning scores, has the mount once more. In those two victories, THE PLAYER beat #7 SEEKING BLAME, as well as stakes-placed Unbridled Outlaw.

The play: $2 exacta box 1/5/12

DFJ analysis: Brian Hernandez Jr. ($8,500) looks like a wise pickup this week. His mount in this race (SEEKING BLAME) doesn’t look that strong but he has six additional mounts at Indiana Grand, five of which are 6-1 or lower, and three of which are the favorite or second-choice.

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