BY: JOSHUA PRAIN
This Saturday War of Will tries for the complete sweep of the three Kentucky Derby prep races held at Fair Grounds Race Course. The Mark Casse trained son of War Front has already taken down the Grade 3 LeComte and Grade 2 Risen Star in overwhelming fashion. Those two victories put him at the top of the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard. He is already guaranteed a spot in the Derby starting gate, no matter the outcome of this weekend’s race. Can his competitors turn the tables this weekend or will we see another dominant performance from the points leader? A total of 180 points will be on the line for this contest with 100 going to the winner. The top two finishers should lock up a date at Churchill Downs this May. The Louisiana Derby will cap off a 13-race card that features a whopping eight stakes, four of which are Graded.
|Race 13 – Louisiana Derby (G2) Post Time – 5:13 PM|
|Purse $1,000,000. For Three Year Olds. One and One Eighth Miles.|
|1||Roiland (KY)||3/C||L||J Graham||122||T M Amoss||12/1|
|2||Lemniscate (FL)||3/C||L||B J Hernandez, Jr.||122||K G McPeek||15/1|
|3||Limonite (KY)||3/C||L||J L Ortiz||122||S M Asmussen||20/1|
|4||Sueno (KY)||3/C||L||C J Lanerie||122||J K Desormeaux||8/1|
|5||By My Standards (KY)||3/C||L||G Saez||122||W B Calhoun||12/1|
|6||War of Will (KY)||3/C||L||T Gaffalione||122||M E Casse||6/5|
|7||Mr. Money (KY)||3/C||L||A Beschizza||122||W B Calhoun||20/1|
|8||Country House (KY)||3/C||L||L Saez||122||W I Mott||9/2|
|9||Bankit (NY)||3/C||L||I Ortiz, Jr.||122||S M Asmussen||20/1|
|10||Spinoff (KY)||3/C||L||J R Velazquez||122||T A Pletcher||8/1|
|11||Hog Creek Hustle (KY)||3/C||L||M Mena||122||V L Foley||12/1|
In last weekend’s two divisions of the Rebel Stakes we saw both favorites go down and it triggered some big payouts. I’m a big fan of War of Will, but as a bettor I need to make the smart move and take some shots against him.
I very much doubt you get anywhere near the morning-line price of 8/1, but #10 Spinoff looks like the play in here. Distance shouldn’t be a problem for this well-bred son of Hard Spun, who is out of the G1W mare Zaftig. This colt showed talent early on, breaking his maiden on debut last summer as a two-year-old. He made his second start in the Saratoga Special, finishing a decent 3rd before he went up on the shelf for the remainder of the year. Pletcher elected to bring him back in an allowance last month at Tampa Bay where he won by double digit lengths. Interestingly John Velazquez also made the trip that day and these two will pair up again on Saturday. If you happened to forget, Pletcher and Velazquez were victorious in last year’s Louisiana Derby with Noble Indy. Look for Johnny to hustle out of the gate and establish decent position from the 10-hole going into the first turn. If he has the talent, we’re going to see a horse race in the final eighth of a mile.
#8 Country House was my pick in the Risen Star Stakes, and he gave me a glimmer of hope as he was closing in deep stretch. That hope didn’t last long because the Bill Mot trainee began to lug in behind War of Will, who had a two-length lead at that point. Luis Saez was not able to get the son of Lookin At Lucky straightened out in time and he glided home in hand to finish 2nd. Now I’m not sure he was going to pass the winner that day anyhow, but if he’s able to avoid that on Saturday then maybe he can flip the script. If the pace sets up like that of the Risen Star, he could make it interesting as he gets an extra sixteenth of a mile to work with here.
As I said, #6 War of Will is the horse to beat, but I think those two above are the ones that can do it. You also must consider that this horse has already racked up enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate and that’s the goal for these connections. I don’t expect Mark Casse to back off on his training tactics, but I don’t think he wants to ruin his chance at the roses either. He’s had three breezes since his last start, the last of which was a sharp half mile in :47.3. He gets a better post draw then his last contest and Tyler Gaffalione has shown that this horse is able to utilize his tactical speed and then pounce when the time is right. I don’t expect that to change, but maybe he gets a little stiffer challenge her. I’m looking forward to it!
After these three there is really a few different horses that could fill out the superfecta. #1 Roiland and #11 Hog Creek Hustle closed well in the Risen Star. #2 Lemniscate, #4 Sueno, and #5 By My Standards, all look to break onto the scene. The horse I’m interested in however is the #3 Limonite. This horse had to check multiple times in the stretch of the Risen Star and finished well after finally getting clear. You get a positive rider upgrade from Brian Hernandez to Jose Ortiz and he has the chance to improve 2nd off the layoff, a 20 percent angle for trainer Steve Asmussen. It’s also possible the son of Lemon Drop Kid will relish the extra ground. Those are my picks!
10 w 6,8 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 = $8
10 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 w 6,8 = $8
6,8 w 10 w 6,8 w 1,3,4,5 = $8
6,8 w 10 w 1,3,4,5 w 6,8 = $8
6,8 w 6,8 w 10 w 1,3,4,5 = $8
Bonus Play: $500,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 10-13)
3,6,9,10,11 w 7 w 2,6,8 w 3,6,8,10 = $30
3,6,9,10,11 w 2,3,6,7 w 2 w 6,8,10 = $30
Not a member of Watchandwager? Sign up today here and receive a 100% match on your first deposit up to $150!