Happy Louisiana Derby Day!

This is the big day at Fair Grounds with eight stakes races including four Grade IIs. The Louisiana Derby is the feature race, and it awards 100-40-20-10 points for entry into the Kentucky Derby. The card also includes one of the major Kentucky Oaks preps, The Fair Grounds Oaks.
“Laissez le bon temps rouler!”

Race 11 – The Fair Grounds Oaks – Grade II
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt for Three Year Old Fillies

March 26th 2022

Three of the six entrants from the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race meet here again – with Champion two year filly Echo Zulu leading the line.

The Runners

Echo Zulu: She had an undefeated two year old season for Steve Asmussen while winning three grade Is including a five length win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Likes to go to the front and bottom out fields – although she did break her maiden while pressing the pace. She lays over this field. Her worst Beyer is higher than any of the other runner’s best Beyer. The only small question is the layoff. Trainer Stat: Asmussen is a very good 17/69 (25%) off of these type of layoffs in graded stakes. She does not need to be tightened all the way to win here – legit single on horizontals. The Pick.

Turnerloose: Had a successful two year old season on the turf hitting the board in her first three starts. Those efforts led to a start in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, where was finished last. Last month she began her three year old season by winning the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (81 Beyer) on the dirt, defeating Hidden Connection in the process. Not bad for your first career dirt effort. Eligible for an improvement second time on dirt. She is a stalk and pounce type who knows how to find the wire on any surface. Should stalk the pace with an inside trip and then take a shot at the eighth pole. Hits the board.

Favor: Pletcher trained filly has won her last two. She easily bested an N1X group last out as odds on going the flat mile at Gulfstream (75 Beyer). She will need to show improvement to best this group as she goes two turns for the first time and Lasix comes off. Pletcher had the wonderful Malathaat last year, but he has not done well (by his standards) in three year old filly stakes races. Trainer Stat: Pletcher is 8/60 (13%) in three year old filly stakes races over the past five years. Looking elsewhere.

Bernabreezy: This Bernardini filly has won twice from three starts at the Fair Grounds this winter. Both wins employed a similar style where she was far off the pace and then made a sweeping move in the stretch. She was not able to reproduce that move in overnight stakes company two back. She will need to significantly improve her 76 Beyer best fig to win in her first graded stakes attempt – but she will be running late and that may be enough to hit the board. Trainer Matt Shirer has never had a starter in a graded stakes race and is 0/16 in ungraded stakes. Underneath award.

Sequist: Dallas Stewart trained filly is entered here off of a third place finish last month in N1X company (72 Beyer) where he finished well behind Bernabreezy. That day she lacked any punch in the stretch as she tried to close coming down the lane. That was her first start since a fifth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she was no match for that field. She’s a cut below the better ones here. Passing.

Hidden Connection: She began her career by breaking her maiden in August at Colonial Downs and a win in the Pocahontas Stakes (87 Beyer) at Churchill that led to a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly where she was done after about six furlongs. Started her three year old season in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes where she pressed the pace and led at the quarter pole but was run down by Turnerloose. She didn’t have much of an excuse that day and faces an even faster pace today. Likely to be left chasing Echo Zulu.

Race 12 – The Louisiana Derby – Grade II
One Mile and Three Sixteenths on the Dirt for Three Year Olds

March 26th 2022

This has become a premier Derby prep especially since the distance was extended to a mile and three sixteenths. If you want to know if your colt can get ten furlongs – here is your chance to find out as this is only North American Kentucky Derby prep to go longer than nine furlongs.

The Runners

Silent Power: Appears to be a possible case of Derby fever. The only win in eight career starts was going four and half furlongs at Prairie Meadows. Way below these.

Zozos: Undefeated Munnings colt for Brad Cox is two for two in a career that started in January. Last out in a $100k N1X race at Oaklawn he won going two turns as he pressed the pace and drew off impressively to win by ten lengths (92 Beyer). Maiden score employed a similar running style. He should get pace to sit off again. Florent Geroux stays aboard. Legit threat to upset the apple cart. Lasix comes off. Use as a backup in horizontals and underneath in verticals.

Call Me Midnight: Last out in the Lecomte Stakes he was the longshot upset winner at 28-1 (88 Beyer). He sat far off the pace that day and made a big run down the long Fair Grounds stretch to just nail Epicenter at the wire. Prior start was last November in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes where he was a distant seventh but that has turned out to be a very key race that has yielded the winners of the Holy Bull and the Fountain of Youth. He’ll get pace again to run at again. Trainer State: Keith Desormeaux 3/41 (7%) in three year old dirt route graded stakes. Needs another jump forward. Minor award.

Curly Tail: Curlin colt broke his maiden last out in his sixth career start with an 80 Beyer at Oaklawn. That race was second time Lasix – which comes off today. Takes a huge class jump to graded stakes company. Will have to show a big speed fig improvement to get a piece here. I don’t see it.
Kupuna: Crushed a weak maiden field two back as odd on favorite and returned from that win in N1X company last time with a good second (82 Beyer). Stalker who looks ready to go with a bullet work leading into this race. Last two good efforts were with Lasix which comes off today. I have questions – but a possible piece of the action.

Epicenter: He was sharp when he won the Risen Star on the front end with a 98 Beyer. He broke well, set the pace, and never looked back. Prior start was a very good second in the Lecomte Stakes where he was just nipped by closed Call Me Midnight who he faces in a rematch today. He can also win stalking the pace. Asumussen has a nice one here who has fired two bullet works leading into this. Looks to be peaking at the right time of his three year old season – come and catch me. The Pick.

Pioneer of Medina: Ran a very good fourth for Asmussen in his last start in the Risen Star as a 34-1 longshot (93 Beyer). He prompted the pace set by Epicenter but couldn’t keep up in the last furlong with that eventual winner. The problem is that he now has to go longer and faces Epicenter again. That puts him up against it. Gaffalione replaces Saez in the irons. Lean against.

Galt: Failed to finish in the Foundation of Youth as he stumbled over his stable mate who had gone down after clipping heels, but he came out of the incident without injury. Two back in the Holy Bull he ran a decent fourth (89 Beyer) where he made the front but couldn’t but keep up with White Abarrio. Only one timed workout since that spill at Gulfstream. A bit of a mystery horse – but he has shown some talent. Alvarado picks back up the mount as Rosario moves to Epicenter. Potential at a price.

Rattle N Roll: He was a no impact sixth last out in the Fountain of Youth (81 Beyer). That was a first start off a four month layoff as he on the shelf for a couple of months after not making the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to a foot abscess. He will need a hug improvement second time off the layoff for Ken McPeek to hit the board here. Pass.