June 12, 2024

Hence faces eight in Iowa Derby

Sunland Derby (G3) winner Hence will be ridden by Mike Smith in the Iowa Derby (G3) (Coady Photography)

Although ineffective against the best of his peers in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), Hence can return to winning ways Friday night at Prairie Meadows in the $200,000 Iowa Derby (G3).

A homebred racing for Calumet Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, Hence impressively landed the Sunland Derby (G3) by 3 3/4 lengths in late March after dropping 11 lengths off of a fast pace. However, the son of Street Boss failed to muster a serious rally in either of the first two classics, finishing 11th of 20 in the Derby and ninth of 10 in the Preakness.

The likelihood of a moderate pace might work against Hence and aid a colt like McCormick, who makes his stakes debut for Ian Wilkes off back-to-back wins at Churchill Downs. Showing tactical foot both times, the Janis Whitham homebred won a Kentucky Oaks Day maiden by a half-length going nine furlongs and then returned last month to upset entry-level allowance foes by 2 1/2 lengths over a mile at odds of 11-1.

Petrov, second in the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn over the winter, subsequently finished fourth in the Rebel (G2) and ninth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) over the same track. A wide-trip fourth in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G2) on the Belmont S. (G1) undercard, his best puts him in contention here.

Impressive Edge, from the barn of Dale Romans, is another that could produce a peak effort in the Iowa Derby. Following an eight-length allowance win at Gulfstream going seven furlongs, the Harlan’s Holiday colt was a respectable fourth in the Florida Derby (G1) behind eventual Kentucky Derby champ Always Dreaming, and last time was five lengths third to Timeline in the Peter Pan (G3) contested in the slop.

Third as the odds-on choice in the Churchill allowance won by McCormick was Silver Dust, previously unplaced in Oaklawn Park’s trio of graded classic preps. The son of Tapit’s only win to date was his maiden score at the Louisville track in November.