07/14/2016 2:10PM

Plenty of options beyond Cupid, Cherry Wine in Indiana Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Takeittotheedge could spring an upset in Saturday's Grade 2 Indiana Derby.

Cherry Wine and Cupid – those are the names best known among 12 entrants in the Indiana Derby on Saturday night at Indiana Grand, and they will be bet accordingly. Cupid burst onto the national scene by winning the Rebel Stakes in March and still carries expectations, even after two far-lesser performances. Cherry Wine placed in a classic race, finishing second in the Preakness, and would have run in the Kentucky Derby had he the qualifying points to make the field. His name has been bandied about racing circles for months.

On their day, and with the right setup, either can win the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby. But neither has to. There are plenty of other ways to go, with less-exposed, lighter-raced horses like The Player and Takeittotheedge perhaps ready to step into the limelight.

Everyone, in fact, will be under lights when the local derby is run at approximately 9:41 p.m. Eastern. The race is the last of six stakes, all worth at least $100,000, on what might be the best card ever assembled at Indiana Grand, and it ends an all-stakes pick four spanning races 6 through 9. The Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks goes as race 8 on a program that begins at 6:05 on what is forecast to be a beautiful evening.


Takeittotheedge, by Broken Vow

Last 3 Beyers: 79-62-88

◗ The upset win choice brims with upside. He turned in one of the more impressive debuts of the Gulfstream winter meeting, winning a seven-furlong maiden race by almost eight lengths March 5 and coming home a strong final furlong.

◗ Trainer Dale Romans thought enough of the colt to run him right back in the Florida Derby about a month after his debut, but Takeittotheedge never had a chance, stumbling badly at the start.

◗ Surely needed his comeback run June 5, in which he finished third behind the well-regarded Forevamo. Should be sharpened up and positioned just off the speed Saturday.

◗ DRF Formulator shows Romans with a $2.18 return on investment from 265 starters over the last four years in two-turn graded-stakes races, and that does not include Court Vision’s 64-1 victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

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The Player, by Street Hero

Last 3 Beyers: 86-83-84

◗ Powerful-looking, late-developing colt makes his stakes and two-turn debut after two Churchill one-turn-mile wins.

“The timing of the race is kind of why we picked this out,” trainer Buff Bradley said. “He was a little tired after his second win, and this gave him five weeks. Also, we felt that since we’re going to be stretching him out, we didn’t want to do the mile and an eighth yet, and the mile and a sixteenth looked attractive.”

◗ The Player has shown good speed and looked slightly headstrong early in his last win. If he’s too eager early, he risks a pace battle, at least with Cupid if not others.

Cherry Wine, by Paddy O’Prado

Last 3 Beyers: 89-96-88

◗ While his one-paced seventh in the Belmont Stakes is forgivable, he’ll probably be overbet off his Preakness, a race in which he skipped over slop and got a great pace setup while still well beaten by the victorious Exaggerator. Cherry Wine has two wins from 10 starts and has never won a stakes.

◗ “I really didn’t think I’d run him back this quick,” Romans said. “I was going to give him a little bit more time, but we’re right here at home in our backyard.”

◗ One-run closer will need a solid pace and luck to get up at a short price.

Cupid, by Tapit

Last 3 Beyers: 85-78-95

◗ Had a breathing problem – for which he subsequently underwent a minor surgical procedure – that led to his poor performance in the Arkansas Derby. But trainer Bob Baffert said Cupid got his air without issue last out and attributed another subpar run in the Easy Goer at Belmont to the configuration of that race.

“He just didn’t like the one turn,” Baffert said. “Things got away from him there.”

◗ Seems certain to try for the lead from post 11 under Rafael Bejarano but might have to work to get it.

Star Hill, by Elusive Quality

Last 3 Beyers: 92-87-80

◗ All signs point to him being vastly better at one turn than around two, and he is marooned in post 12.