Earning top marks for his valiant second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Two Phil’s promised to be a force in the division’s marquee events. Trainer Larry Rivelli circled Saturday’s $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) as the spot to kick off his second half, and the 3-5 favorite duly outclassed his rivals at Thistledown.
The only thing that didn’t go according to plan was his rider. With regular pilot Jareth Loveberry sidelined by injury this week, Gerardo Corrales got the call-up, and the super-sub engineered a straightforward trip.
Two Phil’s broke in good order from post 4 and put himself among the tactical speed sorting themselves out in the first furlong. Rail-drawn Henry Q hustled to the front, and Bishops Bay, the 7-5 second choice, committed to attending him. Thus Corrales wisely let them go and settled Two Phil’s in a tracking position.
Henry Q had to rattle off an opening quarter in :22.62 to establish himself on the lead, and he opene up by 1 1/2 lengths through the half in :47.42. But Bishops Bay appeared to have his measure, and he accosted Henry Q by the six-furlong split in 1:11.82.
Just as Bishops Bay launched, though, Two Phil’s covered his move readily on the far turn. The favorite breezed alongside and took command, still on the bridle, and the race was virtually over before they straightened up down the lane.
Two Phil’s drew away from a game Bishops Bay and coasted home by 5 3/4 lengths. Under a hand ride, the Hard Spun colt galloped his final furlong in :12.40 and finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.60. His time is the fastest since the Ohio Derby was restored to that distance in 2016.
Bishops Bay was far and away best of the rest, crossing the wire seven lengths clear. The up-and-comer from the Brad Cox barn has now played second fiddle to top sophomores in both of his stakes appearances. Last time out in the Peter Pan (G3), Bishops Bay was just outdueled by Arcangelo, who came back to win the Belmont (G1).
The 18-1 Hayes Strike rallied from last to take third, and Lord Miles, an 11-1 chance in his first start since upsetting the Wood Memorial (G2), checked in a one-paced fourth. Henry Q tired to fifth, followed by a 22 1/4-length chasm. Rounding out the order of finish was a trio of longshots who went off at odds of greater than 100-1 – Timesatappin, Agnello’s Dream, and Last Cookie.
Campaigned by Patricia’s Hope, breeder Phillip Sagan, and Madaket Stables, Two Phil’s sports a mark of 10-5-2-1, $1,583,450. The chestnut romped in a pair of stakes at two, the Shakopee Juvenile at Canterbury and the Street Sense (G3) at a sloppy Churchill Downs. Those efforts bookended a seventh in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and he also lost his initial attempts on the Derby trail in 2023.
In both the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, Two Phil’s made a move before flattening and settling for minor awards. He turned the corner with a dominant performance in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, and backed it up with his terrific second in the Kentucky Derby. The Ohio Derby is likely to propel him to the July 22 Haskell (G1) at Monmouth.
Kentucky-bred Two Phil’s is out of multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Mia Torri, a daughter of General Quarters.
The Ohio Derby anchored a quartet of stakes on the Saturday program. In the preceding $250,000 Lady Jacqueline S., Chilean-bred Le Da Vida rolled to her first U.S. stakes win with Vincent Cheminaud.
The Ignacio Correas mare was coming off a closing third in the Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3) to Interstatedaydream, and she gained revenge on that even-money favorite here. Unlike their Pimlico match-up, Interstatedaydream didn’t make it to the lead in a more strongly-run race, and Le Da Vida thrived on the pace set-up.
Advancing on the inside turning for home, the 2.60-1 second choice powered to a 3 1/4-length decision. Interstatedaydream, farther back than expected early, improved into a contending position, but couldn’t maintain it as the winner stayed on too well. The favorite held second by a half-length from Sixtythreecaliber.
By clocking 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.02, Masaiva Inc.’s Le Da Vida improved her scorecard to 21-8-3-5, $407,734. The daughter of Gemologist and multiple Chilean Group 1 winner Viene Cantando won a listed stakes in her homeland while placing in a trio of Group 1s. Le Da Vida opened her stateside career with back-to-back allowance tallies at Churchill Downs and Keeneland last fall. Wintering at Oaklawn Park, she placed in two of four stakes attempts – thirds in the Pippin S. and Bayakoa (G3) – and added another bronze medal in the du Pont.
The first two stakes, worth $75,000 apiece, were for Ohio-breds. WinStar Farm and Blazing Meadows Farm’s homebred sophomore Fair and Square wired the Cleveland Gold Cup by 4 1/4 lengths, and Romantic Cowboy was similarly convincing in the George Lewis Memorial.