LeComte Stakes Analysis: Guest Suite holds sway after sustained run on sealed, muddy track at The Fair Grounds

New Orleans, LA –

A field of 11 made it to the starting gate in Saturday’s Grade 3 – LeComte Stakes at the Fair Grounds. The morning line odds maker at the track had a tough time deciphering who deserved favoritism in this race, but the public narrowed it down to the three year-old colt, GUEST SUITE, trained by Neil Howard, ridden by Robby Albarado, and owned by Lora Jean Kilroy and W.S. Farish. GUEST SUITE went off at odds of 5/2, not a heavy favorite by any means, but the next closest horse taking money was RUNNING MATE who was 9/2.

It wasn’t the greatest of trips for GUEST SUITE considering he was caught four to five wide the entire way around the track. I don’t have the Trakus figures in front of me, but I am guessing that he ran a significant amount of extra feet compared with some of the others in the race. That could be a significant angle to use playing this horse moving forward. If he was good enough to hold sway in deep stretch while having to run all that extra ground, how good could he be with a good trip?

On the other hand, it’s really hard to breakdown how good this field really was after this race. The early fractions in the race were relatively quick, the first quarter mile was a tad bit slower than the second.(:23.42,:23.25) But, when you look at quarter-mile times later in the race, they drop way off, and it could be that the track was extremely tiring. Or, it could be that it just wasn’t much of a group. (:25.72 1/2-3/4,:26.65 3/4-1m) My honest opinion after looking at all the quarter fractions in route races for the day at The Fair Grounds, it wasn’t a really slow group in the LeComte. The latter fractions were in the :26 to :28 range for pretty much all of the route races. The fraction for the third quarter in the LeComte was a bit slow, but RUNNING MATE was backing up on the front end and that had a lot to do with it.

My top choice in the race was SHAREHOLDER VALUE who went off around 7/1 which I was happy with. I thought it was fair considering that most of the field had lots of positives moving into the race, and it was hard to gauge which races were more classy than others. When I watched the replay (I was busy working at the Golden Gophers basketball game, so I couldn’t watch live), I was thinking that my horse was in perfect position. After a bit of ruckus at the start, he settled near the rear, but I knew he had the pedigree to pick off some of the horses in front of him. The two problems that we had, Shaun Bridgmohan and navigating all the stopping horses. Both ended up effecting the outcome. SHAREHOLDER VALUE was forced to attempt to circle the field. He did close ground, but he looked a little awkward doing it. He got the left-handed whip a few times and ARKLOW drifted out and rubbed on him a bit in deep stretch, kind of the same bumping that happened at the start of the race with CARLENA that the Equibase Chart Caller notated in the short comments. I think the early bump was noteworthy and the late bumping is something the horse can learn from moving forward.

The horse that I thought would be favored, UNTRAPPED, stayed right at his morning-line of 5/1 and performed okay in defeat. It wasn’t anything special in my eyes. He say the perfect trip just behind the pacesetter, he then moved forward on the far turn in the two path, but jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. for some reason decided to stop his run a bit, slow down, angle out into the 3-4path and try to re-rally from out there. Needless to say, it didn’t work. UNTRAPPED could have won this race, I think if any jockey made a mistake in this race it was Santana Jr.

WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE LeCOMTE?

Truthfully, I am not sure the race really had any ‘Wow-factor’ to it as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned. With the Grade 2 – Risen Star coming up at the end of February we are likely to see at least half of these horses again. Hopefully, the track condition doesn’t play as signicant a role in the race as it did today.

I honestly think SHAREHOLDER VALUE and UNTRAPPED both had performances in which they could learn a lot moving forward. I also thought ARKLOW ran an interesting race considering his early position.

If you are a newcomer to this process, watch replays, watch each race two or three times, take notes. It will help you in the long run.

NEXT WEEK:

The Withers (The Aqueduct)

KENTUCKY DERBY POINTS:

GUEST SUITE (10 points – tied for 5th in standings)

UNTRAPPED (4 points – tied for 14th in standings)

TAKEOFF (2 points – tied for 24th in standings)

ARKLOW (1 point – tied for 34th in standings)

 

TOP TEN KENTUCKY DERBY QUALIFIERS

RANK HORSE TRAINER POINTS EARNINGS
1 Classic Empire Mark Casse 30 $1,149,250
2 Gormley John Shirreffs 20 $260,000
3 Practical Joke Chad Brown 14 $690,000
4 Uncontested Wayne Catalano 11 $99,300
5 Gunnevera Antonio Sano 10 $738,600
6 Lookin at Lee Steve Asmussen 10 $275,600
7 Mastery Bob Baffert 10 $240,000
8 Mo Town Tony Dutrow 10 $180,000
9 McCraken Ian Wilkes 10 $165,048
10 El Areeb Cathal Lynch 10 $150,000
11 Guest Suite Neil Howard 10 $120,000
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