BY: JOSHUA PRAIN
This Saturday’s LeComte Stakes at the Fair Grounds will offer a total of 17 Kentucky Derby points, ten of which will go to the winner. The winner will likely become the early favorite next month’s Risen Star which offers a combined total of 85 Kentucky Derby Points and pretty much guarantees the winner a spot in the starting gate come the first Saturday in May. This year’s edition sets up to be an excellent betting race with a full field of 14 entered to run.
|Race 12 – (Fair Grounds) LeComte Stakes (G3) Post Time – 6:49 PM EST|
|Purse $200,000. For Three-Year Olds. One Mile and Seventy Yards|
|1||Wicked Indeed (KY)||3/C||L||B J Hernandez, Jr.||122||S M Asmussen||12/1|
|2||Malpais (KY)||3/C||L||A Beschizza||122||J Sharp||12/1|
|3||Tackett (WV)||3/G||L||J Bravo||122||M Stidham||6/1|
|4||Mr. Money (KY)||3/C||L||G Saez||122||W B Calhoun||5/1|
|5||Night Ops (KY)||3/C||L||E Morales||122||J K Desormeaux||30/1|
|6||Hog Creek Hustle (KY)||3/C||L||F Geroux||122||V L Foley||12/1|
|7||Roiland (KY)||3/C||L||J Graham||122||T M Amoss||12/1|
|8||War of Will (KY)||3/C||L||T Gaffalione||122||M E Casse||6/1|
|9||Mo Speed (KY)||3/C||L||J Lermyte||122||M E Casse||20/1|
|10||Chase the Ghost (KY)||3/C||L||C J Lanerie||122||D Stewart||12/1|
|11||Tight Ten (KY)||3/C||L||R Santana, Jr.||122||S M Asmussen||8/1|
|12||Plus Que Parfait (KY)||3/R||L||J R Leparoux||122||B P Walsh||9/2|
|13||Manny Wah (KY)||3/C||L||C Hill||122||W M Catalano||10/1|
|14||Admire (KY)||3/C||L||R Albarado||122||D L Romans||20/1|
|15||West Texas (KY)||3/G||L||M Pedroza||122||B S Flint||20/1|
Don’t get me wrong, this race is wide open, and a poor trip will be costly to some. I do feel however that the horse to beat in here is #8 War of Will. The Mark Casse trainee has been training locally since his maiden breaking performance at Churchill Downs in late November. That race was his first on dirt after contesting multiple Grades Stakes on turf, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. While his efforts on grass were nothing to be ashamed of, the surface change did seem to flip a switch. Tyler Gaffalione should find good early positioning from the eight post and I would expect a solid effort from this one. He’s my top pick.
Dale Romans always wakes up with one or two good ones come Derby season and he’s been particularly good with these connections over the past few years. I’m going to give #14 Admire some love on my tickets at a big morning-line price of 20/1. I don’t love his post and Robby Albarado will need to will need to work out a trip from the far outside. The son of Cairo Prince does have some early speed and should be somewhat forwardly placed. I really like the fact that his maiden win came at one and one eighth miles.
#4 Mr. Money will have to rebound after his poor performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and it looks like his connection have given him ample time to do just so. The son of Goldencents has posted some solid workouts in recent weeks over the Fair Grounds surface and I expect Bret Calhoun to have this one ready to go.
Joe Sharp missed out on the Derby last year after arriving on the scene with Girvin in 2017. Perhaps the young trainer can find his way back with #2 Malpais who stretches out to two turns for the first time. The homebred colt is out of Hard Spun who won the LeComte himself back in 2007 and was also 2nd in the Kentucky Derby that year. I’ll believe this one could excel with the stretch out which is why I’ll be using on my tickets.
#3 Tackett is one of only five horses in this field to have beaten winner and he has posted the 2nd best beyer speed figure of all the runners. Joe Bravo will ride the Michael Stidham trainee for the 2nd time. I would expect this one to establish early positioning on the front end.
$1 Exacta Box
2,3,4,8,14 = $20
8 w 2,3,4,14 w 2,3,4,14 w ALL = $13.20
8 w 2,3,4,14 w ALL w 2,3,4,14 = $13.20
Bonus Play: All-stakes Pick 4 (Races 9-12)
1,3,4,7 w 8 w 3,4,5,7 w 2,4,8,14 = $32
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