Louisiana Derby Preview

VOL. 16 - NUMBER 1
Friday 3/25/16


Observations And A Preview

On Saturday Fair Grounds runs their last Saturday of the 2016 Winter Meet and goes out in style with their biggest day of heat meet. The bettor friendly card includes 8 stakes races, including 4 graded stakes and the highlight of the day, the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

It is safe to say that the Louisiana Derby is both a Key Derby Prep in the sense that it is one of six Kentucky Derby qualifiers which award 100 points to the winner and the first in North America to be run this year (the UAE Derby at Meydan also offers 100 points and will be run a few hours earlier in Dubai.)

However, it cannot be questioned that of the six 100 point Derby Preps run in the United States, including also the Florida Derby (4/2), the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby (4/9) as well as the Arkansas Derby (4/16) the Louisiana Derby is by far the least addressed and the most overlooked of them all. The history of this race would indicate this is a big mistake.

Perhaps the fact that no recent Kentucky Derby WINNER has exited the Louisiana Derby is the reason it is the least considered of these major preps. However, before we preview Saturday's mile and an eight test let's take a look at the impact that Louisiana Derby runners have had on the Kentucky Derby the last 5 years.

For those bettors who rarely go past the most recent past performances, the guys that only look at the most recent line in the past performances, the Louisiana Derby, based on last year's Kentucky Derby impact, will be regardless of which horse wins or runs well, of little interest in 2016.

Likely they will look back to 2015 when neither winner International Star nor runner up Stanford made it to the Kentucky Derby while third place finisher war Story ran 16th and fourth place finisher Keen Ice 7th in their attempt to grab the roses.

But that argument about going past only the most recent line in the past performances should elevate the interest one should have in this prep.

In 2014 the top two finishers in the Louisiana Derby Vicars in Trouble and Intense Holiday had horrific trips and finished off the board. However, Louisiana Derby third place finisher (in a strong rallying performance) was Commanding Curve and all he did was finish second at Churchill to complete the $340.00 Exacta behind favored California Chrome.

In 2013 Revolutionary won the Louisiana Derby and finished third in the Kentucky Derby, Mylute finished 2nd in the race and 5th in the Kentucky Derby and Louisiana Derby 4th place finisher Golden Soul was Commanding Curve redux (both trained by Dallas Stewart) as the colt ran second at 35-1 to complete the $981.00 Exacta and with fellow Louisiana Derby émigré Revolutionary participated in the $6.925.60 Trifecta behind Orb.

In 2012 the Louisiana Derby winner was upstart Hero Of Order ($220.80) a colt that didn't make it to Louisville. Only Rousing Sermon ran in both races and was a no impact 8th in Louisville.

However, in 2011 when Animal Kingdom upset the Kentucky Derby after last running in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, Louisiana Derby 2nd and 3rd place finishers Nehro and Mucho

Macho Man respectively, repeated those finishes in the Kentucky Derby to complete a $329.80 Exacta and $3,952.40 Trifecta.

Maybe you should pay as much attention to the Louisiana Derby as all the other Major Preps in 2016. So let's take a brief look.

GUN RUNNER (3-1) - Logical favorite after strong win in Risen Star here in last...his first as a 3-year old. Lone loss in 4 career races was with a late fade in the slop in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at CD 11/28. Has turned in 4 sharp breezes for trainer Steve Asmussen since his Risen Star win and will be a factor with a repeat.

GREENPOINTCRUSADER (7-2) - was the winner of the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont last fall and was not disgraced when he had to rally 8 wide in the BC Juvenile to complete his 2-year old campaign. Made his 3-year old debut with a strong second behind co-division leader Mohaymen in the Holy Bull and works say he should move forward towards slid juvenile form. Trainer Schettino gets return engagement from John Velazquez.

BATTERY (10-1) - If this Todd Pletcher trained son of Bernardini goes off anywhere near his ML odds he would have to be a strong consideration. He has run a pair of two turn allowance races at Gulfstream, finishing second behind Cherry Wine, who showed real well despite a horrendous start in the Rebel last Saturday and then a draw off win at this 9 furlong distance in his last. Definitely ready to try to join the upper ranks...and Javier Castellano makes the trip.

CONQUEST WINDYCITY (15-1) - is in the capable hands of trainer Mark Casse and did win his 2016 debut in an allowance race at Oaklawn in his most recent. However, his speed numbers are a bit below some of the major players in here and would need another step up in performance.

CANDY MY BOY (15-1) - This is a tough one to gauge. The son of candy Ride will be making his 4th straight start over the track and after winning his first two (a MSW test and allowance run) he set the pace in the Risen Star and held on until the sixteenth pole despite breaking from post 11 in the mile and a 16th race. Gets a better post and in a race devoid of early pace could be right there and as dangerous as he was at 34-1 in the Risen Star. The Roger Brueggeman (27% winners at the meet) trainee is tough to ignore.

MR. TOM (5-2) - Other than find his way into trouble the Tom Amoss trained son of Uncle Mo has done little wrong in a six race career. After winning the Lecomte here in January he wheeled back in the Risen Star and was checked sharply before re-rallying and finishing a strong third. He also owns victories in his career debut and in the Street Sense Stakes at CD as a juvenile. His 3rd despite getting stuck on the inside in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Cub Stakes also adds to his solid credentials. Regular rider Corey Lanerie will climb aboard and the added distance can only help.

TOM'S READY (15-1) - Quite the ML odds discreoancy comnsidering this one finished right behind MR. TOM in the Lecomte and did so at 5.5-1. But in the Risen Star he was dreadful with little excuse. But he was also a close second behind Mr. Tom when that one won the Street Sense Stakes at CD last fall. Trained by Dallas Stewart (Commanding Curve and Golden Soul...see above) maybe he'll run an even third or fourth in here and then finish second in the Kentucky Derby at 50-1.

UNCLE WALTER (20-1) - Hard to figure what happened to this son of Uncle Mo in the Risen Star. After a trio of slid efforts in the first three races of his career, including a good third in the Lecomte Stakes he ran wide on both turns and never seemed comfortable over the track despite being handled by Javier Castellano, who must have seen something in the Make Maker trainee. If he bounces back following a pair of solid 5 furlong breezes and the addition of blinkers he might surprise and claim one of the underneath spots in the exotics.

DAZZLING GEM (12-1) - An outsider in both class and matchups with this field the son of Misremembered will be making just the third start of his career and first outside of Oaklawn Park here he won his debut and an allowance race. His final work took place at Oaklawn just 5 days ago so he will be an off the road runner in here. There are many questions, but one of them is not the connections as trainer Brad Cox has won with 35% of his starters at the meet from a sizable 75 race sample as of the beginning of this week. Another that makes this a wide open race.

ZAPPERINI (20-1) - The well bred son of Ghostzapper is still eligible for non-winners of 2 races lifetime after offering no resistance whatsoever in the Risen Star fresh off his maiden breaker. Trainer Greg Foley keeps the faith and has gotten the services of top jock Julien Leparoux, who is in town to ride World Approval in the Muniz memorial on the undercard but based on his current form he'll need more than the jock to improve his fortunes.

FOREVAMO (10-1) - Considering that he was the favorite when second behing Tom's ready when that one broke his maiden at CD, was a winner of the 200K Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs before a tough trip in the mud in the Grade III Delta jackpot to finish his juvenile campaign and then returned to run second behind Candy My Boy in an allowance here in his 2016 debut his 40-1 odds as the runner-up in the Risen Star seemed to be the absolute definition of overlay. The line-maker has him at 10-1 on Saturday. He is an honest runner and might be in the thick of it again...just has to overcome the tough post.

In conclusion...pay attention to this race or don't. But if you wonder where that Louisiana Derby exiting longshot came from when a factor  on the first Saturday in May don't look to us.


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