Quills Picks Winners – Indiana Derby & Indiana Oaks

After the win in yesterday’s Brooklyn Stakes, I have some options here. I could do with some races at Belmont at the Big A, but the featured race on DRF is a five-horse field. I could have gone with Prairie Meadows in Iowa for the first time this year, where they have their racing festival this weekend, including the Iowa Derby, where some of the three-year-olds’ names would be familiar. But I chose today the Indiana Derby and Oaks from Horseshoe Indianapolis.

The Indiana Oaks and Indiana Derby are the final two races of their special Saturday card. The first race is at 12 noon Eastern, with the Oaks at 6:05 pm, and the Derby 35 minutes later.

horseshoe indianapolis

Weather should not be an issue for the Indiana Derby and Oaks, as they had rain yesterday which forced the races off the turf and lead to a sloppy main track, but I would not be surprised if even for the first race tomorrow that the main track is fast.

Indiana Oaks (Race 11, Grade 3, 6:05 pm post time)

Let’s begin with the Indiana Oaks, which like the Derby about 35 minutes later, will be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. The 7 Impel is the 7/5 morning line favorite but keep an eye to the scratches tomorrow morning when they are announced. She is cross entered for the Iowa Oaks.

If Impel runs in the Indiana Oaks she will be tough, but if she runs at Prairie Meadows, she would run for an extra $25,000. She will have to beat seven other fillies here at Horseshoe Indy, whereas she would only have to beat five in Iowa. She was further back than usual in the Eight Belles on a sloppy Churchill track. I imagine she will be closer to the lead here today if she’s on the Horseshoe Indy grounds.

indiana oaks

The 4 Neon Icon (7/2 ML) might be an up and comer who might not mind the step up into stakes company here. She won an off-the-turf race at Churchill going a mile and a quarter near the pace. But she only beat four other horses in that race. She showed improving numbers in her second race versus her debut at Keeneland, and she definitely can handle the distance. She is shortening up here and could be very dangerous here.

The 6 Band of Gold (3/1 ML) ran well in the Monomoy Girl at Churchill three weeks ago, finishing third. She has won in races going two turns, winning the Martha Washington back in February. I like the work she had last week and she should be ready for today.

The 8 Little Jamie (12/1 ML) was game in an optional claimer at Churchill a month ago and will shorten a sixteenth of a mile here today. She could be my longshot play, whether Impel is running here or Prairie Meadows.

Note that longshot Just Be Quiet (#3, 20/1 ML) is also cross-entered to the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.

I am going to try to beat the favorite here. We might have another horse here, this time a filly in the 4 Neon Icon who might be a late bloomer who makes a name for themselves today. I think she wins this race in her first time against graded stakes company. I’ll call this race 4-7-8-6 with my play $20 to win on the 4.

Indiana Derby (Race 12, Grade 3, 6:40 pm post time)

The finale on the Horseshoe Indianapolis card is the Indiana Derby and we have eight horses running in this race. It is possible we end up with seven, as the 4 Kitty Hawk (20/1 ML) is cross-entered in the finale at Ellis Park as a main track only entrant in a turf race. From what I saw earlier today, there is no word of whether Ellis will be on the turf, so he may be running there, but once again, the scratches on Saturday morning will tell where he will be, if at either track.

Indiana Derby

Favored in the Indiana Derby today is the 2 Stronghold (2/1 ML) who was last seen finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. He is versatile having won on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Trail on the front in the Sunland Derby in February, or off the pace a couple of lengths like in the Santa Anita Derby in April. It will be interesting to see what their plan is today.

The 7 E J Won the Cup (5/2 ML) won the Texas Derby at Lone Star Park at the end of May by catching the leaders late in the stretch. Trainer Doug O’Neill is not messing around with this race, as he is bringing in Mike Smith to ride in this race. E J won the Texas Derby with a change of tactics by running off of the pace and could do that again today.

The 8 Dragoon Guard (7/2 ML) won gate to wire in a one-turn mile race at Churchill Downs last month on the slop. This will be the first time going around two turns, but it is very possible he could be lone speed, especially if Kitty Hawk gets to run in an off the turf race at Ellis.

The 6 Sir Greylind (6/1 ML) may be a wise guy selection here. He won going a mile and a sixteenth in a starter allowance at Churchill, but this is still a big step up here for him here in the Indiana Derby. But he could get swallowed up in a speed duel here as well.

Indiana Derby

This is going to set up nicely for the two horses that are based out of California, the 2 Stronghold and the 7 E J Won the Cup. I’ll take the 7 here to win the Indiana Derby. I’ll call this 7-2-6-8 and my play is $20 to win on the 7.

Good luck everyone, and hope you enjoy the Indiana Oaks and Indiana Derby.

Check out my show “Also Eligible” on Saturday mornings at 10 am Eastern/7 am Pacific on the Bleacher Brothers’ Facebook, X, Twitch and YouTube accounts as AJ Johnson and I discuss the big races, the latest news in horse racing and much more!