07/13/2017 3:56PM

Weekend Warrior for Saturday, July 15: Picks for Indiana Derby, Schaefer Memorial, Los Alamitos Derby


With Saratoga and Del Mar not beginning until next week, this Saturday is a chance for some of the smaller tracks to shine. And the Warrior has his gaze fixed upon two of those tracks: Indiana Grand and Los Alamitos.

Both tracks offer Grade 3 races for 3-year-old boys, the Indiana Derby and Los Alamitos Derby, and Indiana has five stakes supporting its feature. So, let’s get to handicapping, starting with the big one from Indiana Grand.

Indiana Derby

Irap is the class of the race – a millionaire who won the Blue Grass Stakes and Ohio Derby – but at 8-5 on the morning line and likely to drop lower, his price is too short to accept.

Instead, I will back Untrapped. Although beaten by Irap most recently in the Ohio Derby when third, his performance that day was respectable. And he has been quite honest for the most part this year.

This horse has regularly been a factor in graded stakes in 2017, with the exceptions coming in Grade 1 races, the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. Overlook those races, in which he was outclassed, and he ran second in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star and third in the Grade 2 Rebel, beaten in a photo for the place.

I’d like him more in this race if he hadn’t landed post 9 in an 11-horse field, putting him at risk of a wide trip, but he is still appealing at his 6-1 morning line.

As for Irap, he will be tough, but bear in mind that regular stable rider Mario Gutierrez replaces Julien Leparoux, who is 2 for 2 aboard the horse, and every jockey other than Leparoux is winless on Irap. Also, the horse has been training away from his regular Santa Anita base, including a stop at Prairie Meadows after his Ohio Derby win at Thistledown, and perhaps this away-from-home schedule could result in regression.

At least, that’s what someone who is backing Untrapped is hoping.

Michael G. Schaefer Memorial

A couple races before the Indiana Derby, Fear the Cowboy seems to be an exciting prospect in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, race 7.

The 3-1 second choice on the morning line, he returned from a short freshening after an eighth-place finish in the Sunland Park Handicap to finish second to Iron Fist in a slow-paced Evangeline Mile. And for those who perhaps didn’t catch the results from last week, Iron Fist returned to win the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Though he has never raced at Indiana Grand, Fear the Cowboy doesn’t seem to be particular about track surface. He fires most everywhere, with the race at Sunland being one of the few times he hasn’t.

He also drew well in the Schaefer, starting from post No. 1, and though he is not a speedy type, that inside position should allow him to cut the corner into the first turn and perhaps get early position on his primary late-closing rivals, Eagle and Mo Tom. And as well as Fear the Cowboy finishes in his races, I doubt those foes will have the punch necessary to outkick him down the lane.

Los Alamitos Derby

Lastly, the Warrior has thoughts on the Los Alamitos Derby, in which West Coast is favored after winning the Easy Goer Stakes in a flashy performance on the Belmont Stakes card.

With West Coast expected to be a skimpy price, I will try the speedy Cistron, a three-time-winning colt who drops in class after a third in the Grade 2 Penn Mile, where he faced some of the top 3-year-old grass milers in the country. Plus, now he seems to be the controlling speed of the Los Alamitos Derby.

This horse can get brave when able to set the pace, having recorded all three of his wins by leading throughout, though I do wonder if he is as skilled on dirt as on turf. Perhaps Cistron can shake loose with most of the jockeys aboard horses with positional speed more concerned with West Coast.