Dragoon Guard Wins Grade 3 Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indianapolis

Dragoon Guard was on a mission from the start and he never waivered from his plans, scoring the win in the 30th running of the Grade 3 $300,000 Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The win with Dragoon Guard gives trainer Brad Cox back to back victories in the race after winning the 2023 edition with Verifying.

Dragoon Guard and Florent Geroux hustled out of the gate from the outside post and were relentless in their pursuit of the top spot, gaining that advantage midway through the first turn. From there, Geroux was able to rate Dragoon Guard and keep him settled along the inside down the backstretch.

Around the final turn, Informed Patriot and Ricardo Santana Jr. were the first to advance to challenge, but Dragoon Guard was strong on the front end, leading the way into the stretch. Dragoon Guard had several lengths on the field midway through the stretch and was untouchable by Stronghold and Antonio Fresu, the only horse making up any ground toward the leader. The flashy grey colt charged home by two and one-half lengths for the win over Stronghold. Informed Patriot finished third.

“He broke good, made the lead, relaxed for me nicely on the first turn,” said Geroux, who scored his third Indiana Derby win. “He set reasonable fractions, and just kept on going. First try at two turns, it was the right move.”

Favored Stronghold turned in a great performance since running in the Kentucky Derby in early May. Fresu noted the Grade 1 winner of the Santa Anita Derby turned in a solid performance.

“He (Stronghold) ran a good race,” said Fresu. “I think the winner (Dragoon Guard) is a very good horse, a very good horse in the making. I didn’t have the best trip because he broke well, and my intention was not to go. When I tried to set him down, he was really keen behind the horses. But then he relaxed really well and picked it up. I was trying to chase the winner but there was no challenge. The winner was too good today.”

Dragoon Guard paid $5.80 as one of the favorites in the field. The lightly raced son of Arrogate was making his first appearance in stakes action. The Graded Stakes winner is owned by Juddmonte and trained by Brad Cox. Juddmonte also bred and raised the colt.

“He ran well,” noted Brad Cox. “I thought Florent did a good job of getting him away and getting him involved and taking control of the race. Look, based off pedigree and his physical, he’s bred to be a two-turn, mile-and-an-eighth and farther type horse. He stepped up today in his first start around two turns and ran well. He ran a really good race against a really good horse of Steve Asmussen’s last year in September. He came out of the race just not quite as well as we needed him to. We gave him time off, he came back, and he was definitely a bigger, better stronger version of himself. The way he looks, and the way he trains and just his attitude, he’s probably a horse that’s meant to be better as he gets older. He’s obviously really stepped up this year going 3-for-3. We’re excited about him long term.”

Dragoon Guard becomes only the second grey horse to win the Indiana Derby in 30 years. He joins 2016 winner Cupid as a winner of Indiana’s biggest horse race. Dragoon also remains undefeated in three starts for 2024 and three for four overall. The sophomore colt more than doubled his career earnings in the race and now has in excess of $335,000 on his card.

“I think if he continues to make progress, he could be a top 3-year-old,” added Cox. “I really believe that. He’s a good colt. This was just the next step in his progression. I’m happy with what he was able to do today. To be one of the top 3-year-olds in the country he’s going to have to take a couple of more steps forward. We’re hopeful that he can. I’ll talk it over with Garrett (O’Rourke, who runs Juddmonte’s American operation) and obviously over with Prince (Fahad bin) Khalid’s family, the Juddmonte team. We may take him up to Saratoga and train him. I don’t know if that means we take him up to Saratoga and train him. I don’t know if we look at something at Parx, the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). We’ll let the dust settle and let him determine whether he’s ready to step forward and face the best 3-year-olds out there.”

For Juddmonte, Dragoon Guard is the changing of the guard for their operation. His sire, Arrogate, passed away in 2020, leaving opportunity for Dragoon Guard to have a second career someday for Juddmonte.

“It would be awesome, great for Juddmonte to have a homebred by Arrogate,” concluded Cox. “It would be very special to them and to the farm and the Juddmonte team. When they have pedigrees like this, he’s a big good-looking horse and there’s plenty of him, he’ll definitely be in the stallion barn someday.”

Dragoon Guard highlighted a record setting day for Horseshoe Indianapolis. Both on track handle was up year over year compared to 2023, which was a record setting year. Total handle from all sources on the day exceeded $8.147 million, a new track record for handle compared to $7.98 million wagered last season. More than $1.1 million alone was wagered on the Indiana Derby during the 12-race card.

Photo by Coady Media Group