It’s time to start paying attention to the 3-year-olds and Saturday’s Lecomte S. at Fair Grounds is the latest Derby trail race with Kentucky Derby points at stake.
A full field is scheduled to leave the gate at 6:03 p.m. ET from the New Orleans track in Race 9.
The entries are looking to capitalize on the 10-4-2-1 Derby points available to the top four finishers. The full field will go a mile and 70 yards over the dirt at the Fair Grounds in the first Derby prep race at the Louisiana track. The last Classic winner to win the Lecomte was Oxbow in 2013 who went on to win the Preakness. Hard Spun won the 2007 edition before he went on to a number of solid showings in the classics and Breeders’ Cup.
There are seven races remaining after the Lecomte over the next five weeks which will then wrap up the Prep Season and move to the Championship Series when the points escalate. The points increase to 50-20-10-5 on Feb. 17 right here at the Fair Grounds for the Risen Star, the local prep for the Louisiana Derby.
Here’s a look at the entries for the Lecomte (post position, horse, trainer, jockey, ML odds in parenthesis):
1 – Lone Sailor (Amoss, Mena, 15-1). Has two Derby points on the board for his third place finish in October at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Futurity. Improved in his next effort in the Street Sense, but then went a little backward when stretching out to 8 ½ furlongs in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill. The son of Majestic Warrior has been working well at the Fair Grounds and could catch a piece of the exotics.
2 – Snapper Sinclair (Asmussen, Beschizza, 20-1). Son of City Zip will return to the dirt after three straight efforts on the weeds. He’s one of three Asmussen charges in the race and he’s probably the third best of those.
3 – Wonder Gadot (Casse, Velazquez, 6-1). Casse-trained filly is also cross-entered in the Silverbulletday, where she is expected to run in the Kentucky Oaks points race.
4 – Analyze This Jet (Eoff, Risenhoover, 30-1). Son of Overanalyze looks to be a long shot in this group. Steps up to the big leagues to see what he’s got in the tank.
5 – Kowboy Karma (Jones, Hernandez, Jr., 6-1). One of three for Larry Jones in the race, this son of Kodiak Kowboy comes off a solid performance in a non-graded stake at Laurel. Finished third behind the BC Juvy winner in the Champagne at Belmont in October so has been part of a key race. Dangerous with Brian Hernandez in the irons.
6 – Believe in Royalty (Jones, Albarado, 15-1). Second Jones charge and Tapit colt who will look to rebound from his last performance at Remington Park. Stretches out for Brereton Jones and has ace rider Robby Albardo aboard. Will give him a race before trusting him.
7 – Night Strike (Calhoun, Borel, 30-1). Another Remington Park shipper who will need to improve tremendously to challenge this group of sophomores. Workouts and past performances don’t point towards an upset on Saturday.
8 – Zing Zang (Asmussen, Bridgmohan, 15-1). Maiden winner last time out over the Fair Grounds strip for another son of Tapit out of a Mr. Greeley mare. The Asmussen/Bridgmohan duo at juicy odds of 15-1 with a win at the distance over the track is enough to make me take a second look. Interesting.
9– Zeke (Stidham, Bravo, 15-1). He’s no Jerry West, but he is the only one of two undefeated horses in the race. Steps up into graded stakes company after winning an optional claimer on the FG turf. Stidham wins 21 percent of the time going turf to dirt, and his sire, Gio Ponti was versatile going between surfaces. If it comes up wet, you have to consider him.
10 – Instilled Regard (Hollendorfer, Castellano, 4-1). West coast shipper with the big speed figure from the Los Al Futurity, where he finished third behind two top Derby contenders. Hollendorfer likely looking for a softer spot to qualify for the Derby so he shipped east. Draws Castellano to the irons and should be a contender in here.
11 – Ciaran (Morley, Garcia, 30-1). Son of Malibu Moon sports a sharp workout last week over the Fair Grounds dirt surface. According to the Fair Grounds Press Office, it appears that Ciaran will scratch out of the LeComte.
12 – Principe Guilherme (Asmussen, Geroux, 5-2). Morning line favorite has thrashed his competition by a combined 17 1/4 – lengths in his two career wins. The undefeated son of Tapit is Asmussen’s big Derby threat and has a win over the track. Named for Prince William, he will look to set his sights on Louisville with a win on Saturday.
13 – Prince Lucky (Jones, Leparoux, 8-1). Winner of 3-of-4 races to date and son of miler Corinthian will stretch out and move up in class at the same time. He’ll need to get lucky from the outside post to beat this group.
14 – Ebben (Margolis, Lanerie, 20-1). Son of Trappe Shot won his last at Churchill in Lanerie’s first ride on the gray gelding. He’ll need the race to flow his way to keep moving forward on the Derby trail. Distance limitations in his pedigree could be his downfall.
15 (AE) – Trigger Warning (Lejzerowicz, Doyle, 20-1). Will likely get in with the likely scratch of Wonder Gadot. Little known connections and the far outside post will present challenges for the son of Candy Ride.
Post Time Outlook: 1 –Instilled Regard; 2 –Kowboy Karma; 3 – Principe Guilherme ; 4 – Zing Zang
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace