5 horses that belong in the Midwest Derbies

Photo: Carson Dennis/Eclipse Sportswire

Unlike the list of horses who would excel in the Haskell Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1) the other day, some 3-year-olds need more time to develop and gain more seasoning against lesser stakes opponents. Other 3-year-olds belong racing at the Grade 3 level for the rest of their careers.

The upcoming ”Midwest Derbies” this summer are a good opportunity for 3-year-olds in either category described above. These Derby races might include the upcoming ohio derby (G3), Indiana Derby (G3) and Iowa Derby.

Out of this crop, who would benefit from those types of races? Here are five 3-year-olds who belong in the series of Derby races in the Midwest.

Classic Causeway. With 11th-place finishes in the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby, this Giant’s Causeway colt needs to turn his career around. Earlier in the year, Classic Causeway won against lesser opponents in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Under his new trainer Ken McPeek, he might appreciate pointing to one of the “easy” Derby races. If Classic Causeway performs well, then McPeek can think about bringing him back up in class later in the year. On the other hand, maybe he is a Grade 3 horse for life.

barber road. After firing a streak of good races going back to his maiden claiming win, Barber Road finally ran a clunker in the Belmont Stakes by finishing 17 1/2 lengths behind the winner Mo Donegal. Barber Road shows good efforts before the Belmont as shown by his runner-up finish to Cyberknife in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and closing sixth-place finish in the crowded 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, but he lacks a win this year. Instead of pointing to the Haskell Stakes (G1) or Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), a confidence builder in one of the lesser Derby races may benefit him in the long run.

Tawny Harbor. Tawny Port’s effort in the Kentucky Derby is not one to criticize. He made a closing move for seventh an ended up a head behind Barber Road and one length behind the eventual Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal. Before that race, the Brad Cox-trained colt won the Lexington Stakes (G3) and ran a troubled fifth in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) in February. His runner-up finish in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G2) between those two races is a good effort too, although there are not any synthetic races he can point toward in the summer. Tawny Port could pad his resume in one or two Midwest Derby races.

Ethereal Road. Judging by his seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and fourth in the Lexington Stakes (G3), Ethereal Road did not seem fast enough to compete for the win in any of the Triple Crown races. His scratch in the Kentucky Derby was a blessing for his confidence. In the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard, Ethereal Road won by 4 3/4 lengths against lesser opponents. He might deserve another try at a Grade 1 down the line, but he needs a confidence builder as well.

Major-General. His last two races were in tough spots. In the Pat Day Mile (G2), Major General had to stalk the razor sharp Jack Christopher and Pappacap on the lead before understandably fading to ninth. The connections next decided to experiment with this colt on turf in the Audubon Stakes, and he gave a disappointing effort by fading to sixth. Remember his second to Tawny Port in the Lexington Stakes? This Colt needs a dirt road against lesser opponents in a Grade 3 or listed stakes.

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