The Derby Trail shifts to the Fair Grounds
And so the trail from the Big Easy to the Kentucky Derby begins. Kicking things off from its customary starter position is the G3 Lecomte Stakes. Raced at a distance of 1 Mile, 70 yards this stop on the trail has all the fixin’s for a new derby contender to emerge from the field of 13. It is only January but the journey has to start somewhere
For those that have never made it, New Orleans is a city that you have to visit – trust us there are plenty of good times, good food and great places to see. But while the city has been good to most of its visitors, the Big Easy hasn’t been so satisfying for 3-yr-old winners of the Lecomte Stakes. In over 40 years, we have still yet to see a winner move on to capture the Kentucky Derby. The closest attempt at becoming the first was in 2007 when Hard Spun fought gamely before finishing 2nd to Street Sense.
Inaugurated in 1970 at the Fair Grounds, it is a very early and opportune time for trainers to test their young colts. Like many of years past, this field is sure to include quite a few that will flame out on the road to the Derby but will it also include even fewer that make a solid run at qualifying.
Based on the Morning Line odds let’s begin breaking down the field with our top three. .
Even though he enters after the longest layoff of any of the horses in the field, Shared Property assumes the role of Morning Line Favorite. It’s been just over 3 months to be exact since Shared Property made his Grade 1 stakes debut, a 6th place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct 8. The reason he advanced to a Grade 1 in only his 3rd career start was because of very sharp performances his first two times out. After clearing the field for an easy 6F win in his Maiden Debut at Ellis Park, the colt was moved immediately to graded stakes competition, the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. A big win there at a distance of 1 mile is what clearly gives him a leg up on the field and the reasoning behind his 4-1 odds.
Showing only 4 works since his last race, I see this race as being more of a stepping stone for the next two derby preps at the Fair Grounds – Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. I’m not counting out his chances of landing in the winner’s circle but I am leaning towards 3rd or 2nd as the more likely finish. Trained by Tom Amoss, Shared Property returns to race on dirt for the first time since his maiden victory.
Sliding in just behind him at 9-2 is Seven Lively Sins. After finishing 3rd in his maiden debut in August, the colt reappeared for his 2nd start in early October, a 7F win over the synthetic track at Keeneland. Seven Lively Sins showed his stuff and was awarded with an entry into his first career graded stakes race, the G3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs. After a solid 2nd place finish there it was time to try to make some real money in the $1 Million Delta Jackpot. Seven Lively Sins had a rough go over the track at Delta Downs but still managed to hang in for a 4th place finish.
If veteran rider Julien Leparoux remains in the irons, I expect this colt to be ready for his 3-yr-old racing season. Still searching for his first big win, Saturday looks to be his best opportunity so far in his young racing career. Couple his recent works at the Fairgrounds with a name that some won’t be able to resist, I expect Seven Lively Sins to be your post time favorite.
Rounding out the top three is Exfactor at 5-1. A bit of concern surrounding his participation is looming because of a minor but recent hind leg injury. As of now he has yet to be officially scratched so we’ll have to keep you posted on his entry status. If he does run, it will be interesting to see this G3 Sprint winner stretch it out a bit more in his first ever race at distance over 6 Furlongs. He’s 3 for his last 3 so he will be an exciting entry.
If the tightly bunched odds for the top 3 didn’t give you any indication of how wide open this race is then maybe seeing another 3 entries at 6-1 will. Leading this group is Zayat Stables who elected to couple Z Dager with Dan and Sheila. Both horses are lightly raced and enter after thier first career MSW win in December. Z Dager, trained by Steve Asmsussen, remains at the Fair Grounds where his career officially got started. His counterpart, trained by Todd Pletcher, arrives in Louisiana after scoring at Gulfstream Park.
No doubt that the two are lightly raced but they may have higher expectations than any other horse in the field. The two trainers are known for having multiple derby contenders and qualifiers so this pair may represent their early long shot Kentucky Derby qualifier bids. If the odds are ripe they are worth a look and potential play.
Finally, since credit has been given to Hard Spun we would be remiss for not including his trainer, Larry Jones. The 2 time Lecomte winner returns this year with Mr. Bowling. Larry Jones sent his colt out for the first time at Delaware Park this summer before entering him in the Dover Stakes last fall. A nice win there led him to the Iroquois Stakes where he finished soundly for 3rd place. Both races were at a distance of at least 1 Mile but the Dover Stakes was the only race that included two turns. The Lecomte will send the field through two turns so that may inspire Mr. Bowling to find his comfort zone.
Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes | Purse $175,000 | 3 Year Olds | 1 Mile 70 yds | Dirt
|Post||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Morning Line Odds|
|1||Adena’s Chance||G. Dorochenko||M. St. Julien||20-1|
|1A||Hero of Order||G. Dorochenko||I. Diego||20-1|
|2||Dan and Sheila||T. Pletcher||J. Velazquez||6-1|
|2A||Z Dager||S. Asmussen||S. Sellers||6-1|
|3||Ted’s Folly||W. Brown||J. Medina||10-1|
|4||Mr. Bowling||J. Jones||R. Albarado||8-1|
|5||Exfactor||B. Flint||S. Bridgemohan||5-1|
|6||Seven Lively Sins||A. Stall, Jr.||R. Napravnik||9-2|
|7||Alexander Thegreat||B. Barnett||J. Jacinto||30-1|
|8||Hammers Terror||M. Stidham||J. Graham||6-1|
|9||Chalybeate Springs||D. Lukas||B. Hernandez, Jr.||20-1|
|10||Capetown Devil||D. Carroll||C. Lanerie||6-1|
|11||Shared Property||T. Amoss||L. Goncalves||4-1|
It is wide open in 2012 Lecomte Stakes. I like Larry Jones and Mr. Bowling here but I won’t count out playing Julien Leparoux and Seven Lively Sins. I’m almost certain to keep the Zayat Stable duo in the mix as well. There’s going to be a lot of options once the odds start moving, leaving the potential for some really big numbers.
In what should be a great race, I expect a lot of trainers to be very anxious to learn if there young 3-yr-olds even belong on the Derby Trail. The only way to find out is to get onboard the derby prep circuit and see how your colt responds. New Orleans is a great place for a wild ride to begin, good luck to all of the horses in the field and their connections.
Written by: Little Brink