Mr. Z early favorite for Grade 2, $500,000-added Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand

indianaderbylogoPost positions were drawn today for Indiana’s richest race with eight horses slated to vie for the 21st running of the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Saturday, July 18. The race will be held as the ninth on the 10-race card with an estimated post time of 9:41 p.m. EST.

“It is always a lot of fun to see how the field shapes up for the Indiana Derby each year,” said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing. “It is a little loftier field this year. We have added a partnership with WISH TV (Channel 8 based in Indianapolis) who will broadcast our Indiana Derby and Indiana Oaks live from 9 to 10 p.m. Saturday. That is very cool for us and great for Indiana horse racing.”

Fresh off his impressive win in the $500,000 Ohio Derby in his last start, Mr. Z has been selected as the early morning line favorite. The three-year-old son of Malibu Moon is trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who will be making his 10th start in the Indiana Derby. Lukas has two previous wins in the Indiana Derby, scoring a win with Dubai Dust in 1997 followed by a win with Orientate in 2001. Lukas will bring in Joe Bravo to ride Mr. Z once again with hopes of reprising their performance in the Ohio Derby. The duo starts from post one in the eight horse field at odds of 2-1.

Joining Mr. Z as a favorite in the race is Divining Rod, who begins from post two at odds of 5-2 for jockey Alex Cintron. Trained by Arnaud Delacour, Divining Rod was third in his last start behind Mr. Z in the Ohio Derby and was also a third place finisher in the Preakness behind American Pharoah. The Tapit son has not been worse than third in five starts for 2015 with his sole victory recorded in the Grade III $250,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Another favorite for the Indiana Derby is Island Town, who will begin from post six at odds of 3-1. The Hard Spun gelding has won his last two starts, including the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill last time out. Island Town is trained by Ian Wilkes, who has one previous Indiana Derby winner with Neck ‘n Neck, who won the race in 2012. Julien Leparoux, regular rider aboard Island Town, is named to ride.

“This is a very well rounded bunch,” said Kevin Greely, director of racing. “They have the right past performances, and quite a few have played in the big leagues, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. I’m very excited about this race. I think it will be a great race to watch.”

The entire Indiana Derby field, in post position order with jockey and odds, includes:  Mr. Z (Joe Bravo, 2-1); Divining Rod (Alex Cintron, 5-2); Tiz Shea D (Jose Lezcano, 6-1); Alabaster (Julio Felix, 15-1); Bold Conquest (Ricardo Santana Jr., 12-1); Island Town (Julien Leparoux, 3-1); Far Right (Corey Lanerie, 12-1); and Deliverance Day (Albin Jimenez, 20-1).

Deliverance Day will be the local connection represented in the Indiana Derby. Although he is listed as the longest shot on the board at odds of 20-1, the Purim gelding comes into the race off two straight wins at Churchill Downs. Trainer Tim Glyshaw feels the start in the Indiana Derby is a good spot for the colt.

“We claimed him for $30,000 last fall and thought he would be a pretty nice horse for us on the turf,” said Glyshaw. “A start on the turf didn’t go as well as we thought. But this year, his last two races on the dirt were great starts and that gives us the right to try him in a race like this because he beat a pretty nice field. There is a lot of speed and in all likelihood, it may set up for the horses that come off the pace, which includes our horse (Deliverance Day).”

The Indiana Derby is the featured race on the Saturday, July 18 race card. It is joined by five more stakes races, including the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks, which will be contested as race eight with an estimated post time of 9:11 p.m. EST. The 20th running of the Indiana Oaks drew a field of 11 fillies. Likely favorites in the race include Silverpocketsfull from the Ian Wilkes barn, third place finisher in the Grade I $500,000 Ashland Stakes last time out, and Ahh Chocolate from the Neil Howard barn, a third place finisher in her last start in the Grade II $250,000 Black Eyed Susan Stakes.

The Grade II Indiana Oaks field with jockey in post position order includes: Oceanwave (Shaun Bridgmohan); High Dollar Woman (Joe Rocco Jr.); Affect (Fernando De La Cruz); Sweetgrass (Chris Landeros); All Day Alice (Florent Geroux); Ahh Chocolate (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Pangburn (Robby Albarado); Zeven (Corey Lanerie); Tiger Ride (Alex Cintron); Emmajestic (Miguel Mena); and Silverpocketsfull (Julien Leparoux).

Other stakes races on the Indiana Derby Night card include the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff (Listed), the $100,000 Warrior Veterans (Listed), the $100,000 Mari Hulman George, and the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial. In all, more than $1.1 million in purses will be offered during the night.

First post for Indiana Derby Night is set for 6:05 p.m. The evening will include special guest appearances by members of the 1954 State Basketball Champions from Milan High School, Josh Kaufman, Season Six winner of “The Voice,” various legendary basketball players from the Indiana Pacers and Indiana University, Dani Mathers, 2015 Playmate of the Year, and Otto Thorwarth, the jockey who played Ron Turcotte in the Disney movie “Secretariat.” In addition several singers will be showcased during the night, including Marlana VanHoose, who recently sang the National Anthem at the MLB Home Run Derby in Cincinnati as well as the NBA Finals. VanHoose will sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” prior to the post parade of the Indiana Derby. The evening also includes three $1,000 MegaBet drawings for a win wager on the Derby.

WISH TV’s Anthony Calhoun will join Peter Lurie, nationally known on-air racing personality as hosts of the hour-long live broadcast of the Oaks and Derby races from 9-10 p.m. EST. The special program will also include segments about Indiana horse racing along with a behind the scenes look at racing at Indiana Grand.