10/02/2008 11:00PM

Pyro must overcome outside post


Pyro will have to overcome the outside post in a field of 12 if he is to win the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby on Saturday at Hoosier Park. Pyro is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Indiana Derby, one of three stakes on Hoosier Park's biggest racing day of the year.

Pyro, the runner-up in last year's Breeders Cup Juvenile, got off to a good start this year, winning the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. After poor showings in the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby, he returned to good form with a win in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs and a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. He finished third with an excuse in his last start, the Grade 1 Travers.

Pyro, a son of Pulpit, is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.

"He ran a good race in the Travers but got into trouble a bit in the stretch," Asmussen said. "That is something that can happen with a closer."

Pyro's come-from-behind style should serve him well in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby, a race with an abundance of early speed.

"Shaun has ridden him every time and I am very confident in his ability and judgment when it comes to where to have Pyro during the race to keep him out of trouble and overcome the wide draw," Asmussen said.

Asmussen said he chose the Indiana Derby for Pyro because "the Travers was a very hard race for him and we knew we were either going to run him in the Super Derby or here, and I decided to give him a few extra weeks and run here."

Richard Dutrow Jr. sends out Acai to try and upset Pyro. Since being taken over by Dutrow three races ago, Acai has blossomed, winning a maiden race June 22 and an optional allowance July 26, both against older horses. In his last out, he ran second, beaten a neck by Anak Nakal in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.

Tyler Baze will be aboard for the first time.

Power Game, who is also under consideration for Sunday's Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park, is undefeated in three career starts, all at Monmouth Park. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Power Game won a maiden race at first asking July 6 against older horses by eight lengths. He then won an allowance race against older horses Aug. 3 by four lengths before taking the Sept. 7 Restoration Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths.

Jose Lezcano will ride for the first time.

The field also includes Asmodeus, I.M. Boomer, Chow Wagon, Chris Got Even, Famous Patriot, Budge Man, Tin Cup Chalice, He's Eze, and Cubfanbudman.

Schaefer Mile tops undercard

Hyracotherium heads a field of eight horses, including a stablemate, in the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile on the Indiana Derby undercard. Trained by Dale Romans, Hyracotherium most recently finished second in the $100,000 Lake Erie at Presque Isle Downs. He came from far out of it early to miss by a neck in the mile and 70-yard event. Prior to the Lake Erie, the 4-year-old won three races in a row: a claiming race at Churchill on the turf, an allowance race at Presque Isle on Tapeta, and an optional allowance on the Arlington Park turf.

Rodney Prescott was named to ride both Hyracotherium and Romans's other entrant, M.B. Sea.

Mister Fusaichi comes into the Schaefer off two wins in allowance company. In his last out, he drew clear late to win by a length going a mile over the Arlington Park Polytrack. Mister Fusaichi is trained by Asmussen and will be ridden by Bridgmohan.

Father John will try to post a repeat win in the $100,000 Gus Grissom. The 1 1/16-mile Grissom drew 12 Indiana-bred horses, including Father John's stablemate Moonshine Still.

Last year, the Grissom had a purse of $45,000 but it was upped to $100,000 this year because of the added revenue generated by Hoosier Park's recently opened slots casino.