After the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile performance from the two year-old colt, CLASSIC EMPIRE, trained by John Oxley and ridden by Julien Leparoux, it’s pretty clear that becoming the favorite for the Kentucky Derby goes through the four-time winner. CLASSIC EMPIRE is pointed to start in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 4th, 2017.
The past couple weeks we have seen some impressive performances in early Derby preps. In the Smarty Jones Stakes, UNCONTESTED, romped home in the slop against what I feel was a soft group, but he did turn the tables on a few horses in the race that beat him in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill this past Fall. GORMLEY nodded AMERICAN ANTHEM to win the Sham Stakes out at Santa Anita Park. The wins earned UNCONTESTED and GORMLEY 10 Kentucky Derby Leaderboard Points each putting them both in the top five.Want to see the full Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, CLICK HERE
This coming weekend, The Fair Grounds, New Orleans, LA hosts the Grade 3 – Le Comte Stakes for three year olds and is worth a total of 17 Derby points for the horses that finish in the top four. (10-4-2-1)
Before we get to the all important three year-old stakes, lets check out all the racing from The Fair Grounds and see if we can’t get you a few winners so you have big money to play on the Le Comte later on in the card.
The Fair Grounds:
Race 1 – MCL12500 – 6 furlongs – Dirt
In this type of race, my advice is you either have to single or go very deep. If you want to get buy this leg in Pick 3’s, Pick 4’s, and Pick 5’s you must go through the races and either define them as a ‘spread race’ or a ‘single race’. Typically, in maiden claiming events it is where you can find a price horse to increase the amount of winnings on your ticket. Let’s breakdown this race and see what we can find.
#1 SONG OF DIXIE (Murill-Richards)
The 3-1 morning line is a little soft considering the dam of the horse has had four foals and none have made it to the winners’ circle. SONG OF DIXIE has posted the fastest pace figures leading up to the race. Particularly last race when she dropped from Maiden Special Weight down to the Maiden Claiming ranks. She showed much better speed and then flattened out to hold on for third. Even though she showed a little speed last time, she is not fast enough to get the lead with a 12.1 high for front end speed. With that being the case, I can’t see SONG OF DIXIE winning the first race coming off the pace.
#2 GOODNIGHT EMILY (Saez-Munna) *FIRST TIME STARTER – w/Lasix*
Sired by WAY OF THE NIGHT, 3 starters, no winners. Damsire LEESTOWN, 97 first time starters, 8 winners – Average Winning Distance (AWD) 6.6 furlongs
The trainer has only started 14 horses at the entire meet. He has four wins and four seconds, which is very respectable considering the size of his barn. Munna has had one winner starting for the first time at this exact level. He has tried it five times. The horse has been training extremely slow but that doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. I am not privied to information about how Munna does things, but I would clearly look at the toteboard tomorrow and decide for yourself whether this one can get in the money. Anything less than 5-1 means its go time!
#3 Caylee’s Star (Torres-D.Schmidt)
Debuted at Louisiana Downs in a five furlong turf sprint and pretty much was at the back the entire way, but if you watch the replay, she rallied in deep stretch and was making up ground past the finish line. It looked like she was asking to go longer. They followed that up three months later taking her off the turf and letting her run 5 1/2 furlongs, and again off the far turn she was gaining the best in the lane. If this race sets up the right way and there is any kind of speed up front to run at. This horse going six furlongs is clearly the one to play in that spot.
#4 APACHE FOG (Riquelme/Mouton)
Has had one start, hesitated at the break, forced very wide on the track from there. Has excuses if he can get a clean trip, but some horses are very good at finding trouble at the gate. Trainer is 1 for 24 at the meet and everything points to it being very tough to win this one unless they find some complete turnaround in the starting gate and finish with a nice run. Possible but unlikely. If interested the breeze two back from the gate in 49.40 was respectable.
#5 PEAUX BOY (Eramia/Johnston)
Showed very good speed in debut while getting bet down to be the favorite at 2-1 in his debut. It’s like Edward Johnston and his crew were screaming this race is ours. That was until a longshot came out of the clouds and ran down PEAUX BOY and the rival on the rail in this race SONG OF DIXIE. One thing to note, if the track is wet, you must consider the #1 and # 5 in this race. I do love the way this horse battled and out finish the foe he needed to before being swarmed in the final 50 yards.
#6 CARLENA (Hernandez-Richards)
Had one start at a higher maiden claiming level. but completely faltered and fell out of touch with the field. This trainer has been known to be a bit sneaky off of a bad loss. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this horse were to run into the exotics late. He has a decent sire rating second time out and his dam has 5 wins in 16 starts from her foals that have made it to the gate. Underneath only, unless you see odds of less than 10-1, then something is up
#7 GREELEY’S DOLL (Marce Pedroza-Schwede)
Sired by Greeley’s Galaxy who wins at about 10% first time out of the gate, but the dam has yet to foal winner. They are 0 for 8.
#8 FIGHT THE LIGHT (Sophie Doyle-Ron Facheaux)
Something really positive to note, this horse posted a 15.4 early speed rating last out which is extremely quick. But then completely stopped with Riquelme in the irons, he obviously has switched mounts in this event for some reason. The jockey and trainer have joined twice and got to the winners’ circle in one of the two. If this horse figures out how to settle midfield and then come with that big speed late. They could easily get a piece of the pie if there is a pace-duel up front.
#9 E.T. Lane (McMahon/Leggio)
Showed moderate speed in debut. Dam has had good success with starters in this exact situation, she has produced 15 wins, must respect that. The works are just not fast enough and there is nothing to say the connections are joining for a breakout victory. I am not using this one.
#10 CARSON’S KATIE (David Flores/Balderas)
Showed amazing gate speed last out to take the lead through the opening half, had every chance to hold on, instead weakened badly to finish sixth. The track has been extremely tiring for horses. Good thing is we have out pace duel set up for the long prices I think we can get in for a piece of this thing. Last thing to note on CARSON’S KATIE, trainer and jockey have never won together and it doesn’t like like she is ready yet.
With definite early speed coming from the outside post positions, I believe that settling in a tracking position where you can save ground along the backstretch and then pounce on the top pair past the quarter pole will lead to victory. The horses I think have the best chance to do that are.
TOP PICK: #3 Caylee’s Star
IN THE MIX: #1 Song of Dixie, #5 Peaux Boy
LIVE LONGSHOT: #6 Carlenas