RTSS False Favorite Report, Saturday, July 6, 2024

It’s mini-Derby Day, with both the Indiana and Iowa derbies running. That’s good news for us, given that stakes races for 3-year-olds has been one of the few bright spots for RTSS so far this year.

After nailing the exacta in the Ohio Derby, our record from April through the Triple Crown rose to 5 winners in 7 races. We’ll try to get healthy with two features for 3-year-olds.

HORSESHOE INDIANAPOLIS

RACE 12. Grade 3 Indiana Derby

1 Mile and 1/16th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #2 Stronghold (2-1).

Reason: He’s been ultra-competitive at the stakes level, but he has done so in one of the weaker divisions of a weak 3-year-old class. His numerous 2nd-place finishes and tight wins shows gumption but also indicates limitations. His raw times and speed figures leave him well within the upset potential of several rivals.

Top Contenders

#8 Dragoon Guard (7-2). Like our Ohio Derby top choice (and winner) Batten Down, our top choice here is a Juddmonte homebred in the hands of a top US trainer. Brad Cox has coached this son of Arrogate to a near-perfect record. Although he hasn’t tried two turns or stakes company, his pedigree is geared to route races and he handled lesser rivals with ease.

We’ll bet him to Win and Place as our solo pick.

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

RACE 8. IOWA DERBY

1 Mile and 1/16th. Dirt.

Legitimate Favorite: #9 Just a Touch (9-5).

Reason: After breaking his maiden in his debut, drawing away by 4+ lengths, he registered two impressive second-place finishes in graded stakes races. In those runnerup efforts, he pressed solid fractions before weakening late.

Brad Cox must’ve been as impressed as me and others because he rushed the son of Justify into the Kentucky Derby. He comes in freshened and getting considerable class relief compared to his two most recent starts. I doubt any rival in here can wear him out early, which should leave him with fresh legs to outfinish all late-running rivals.