This weekend we’re heading to the Fair Grounds in Louisiana for the state’s premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby: The Louisiana Derby. They’ve got a nice looking card set for Saturday with a slew of stakes action on tap and sunny skies in the forecast. Let’s get started:
Fair Grounds – Race 10 – The New Orleans Handicap (Grade 2)
The first race we’ll take a look at is the New Orleans Handicap for older horses at a mile and an eighth on the main track. This is a splendid example of what a Grade 2 race looks like as nobody in this field strikes me as a Grade 1 type but more are above Grade 3 level. I like Noble Indy to upset this race off the sprint tightener after an extended layoff. His odds will be generous for these connections. Noble Indy won the Louisiana Derby last year and has been working well in the mornings. Trainer Todd Pletcher wins 22% of his sprint to routes and this one looks live.
Second, I like Lone Sailor. His trainer wins 26% of races run off a layoff and he had to close into a VERY slow pace last time. Lone Sailor has only won two races in his career, but this race seems to fit his running style with enough speed signed on.
I like Todd Pletcher’s Noble Indy to finish second at long odds off a sprint tightener. Souper Tapit has been the consistent type and should finish on the board.
Fair Grounds – Race 11 – The Muniz Memorial Handicap (Grade 2)
The Muniz Memorial is a race that drew a field of both hard-knocking older horses and up-and-comers with something to prove. Bricks and Mortar falls into the “up-and-comer” category fresh off his first grade 1 win with only 8 starts under his belt. Bricks and Mortar is trained and ridden by two of the best in the game right now and the only races he’s ever lost, he’s had bad trips under a different rider. He’s primed and ready to take this.
Inspector Lynley will be running second off a layoff after winning at Tampa but he’s not quite as strong as Bricks and Mortar. Divisidero always ends up picking up the pieces.
Fair Grounds – Race 12 – The Fair Grounds Oaks (Grade 2)
Not much to say about this year’s running of the Fair Grounds Oaks other than they all appear to be running for second place if Serengeti Empress runs similarly to her last start in February. She faced most of these and annihilated them. Controlling speed from the rail should be hard to stop. Eres Tu out finishes the rest for second as the field’s best closer and Liora holds third.
Fair Grounds – Race 13 – The Louisiana Derby (Grade 2)
This year’s running of the Louisiana Derby is a fun one and one that looks like it’ll go through morning line favorite War of Will – current leader on the Kentucky Derby Rankings. He’s toyed with his competition in his two starts here at Fair Grounds and he’s a deserving 6-5 morning line favorite. I’m taking a stand against him for two reasons this time. This time he’s likely to be pressed harder than before with the addition of Spinoff to the field. Spinoff isn’t bred for distance but possesses enough speed to sizzle up front and set the table for some longshots to close.
I like Limonite to take full advantage of that setup. Limonite is running second off a November layoff for trainer Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz for the first time (a serious upgrade). Limonite has finished in the money in 4 of 5 starts and is bred to go long. His price will be right and I can see him making some real noise here. I like his stablemate Bankit to run second.
Also trained by Steve Asmussen and also ridden by an Ortiz brother (Irad rides this one), Bankit has had wide trips in his last few and also benefits from a hot pace. He’s another that will take advantage of a quick pace. Mr. Money is another longshot who has proven he fits with these.