Fair Grounds | Race 11 | Post Time 5:21 p.m. (CT) | Go To The FREE TimeformUS PPs
Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up here for access to the free PPs
Fair Grounds’ road to the Kentucky Derby concludes on Saturday with the $1 million, Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. The winners of each the first two local prep races – the Lecomte and Risen Star – will be in the starting gate, along with the speedy Local Hero and impressive maiden winner Patch.
The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which should be set by Local Hero (#3). He ran off to a long lead in the early stages of the Risen Star before coming back to the field in the stretch. This time, the Pace Projector indicates that he could receive more early pressure from recent maiden winner Monaco (#5), who won in wire-to-wire fashion and adds blinkers for the first time. Longshot Hotfoot (#9), another front-running type, should also be chasing. An especially quick pace should enhance the chances of Girvin and Guest Suite.
Let’s go through the entire field:
#1, PATCH (9-2): He’s only faced maidens in his two starts, so it’s a positive sign that Todd Pletcher, who has decent stats with this move, already thinks enough of him to ship him to New Orleans for a last-round Derby prep. He got a late start to his career, only making his debut in January, but he has shown real promise from the outset. Racing over six furlongs in his debut, he was sluggish early and greenly dropped back on the turn, at which point it appeared that he would finish far out of the top three. However, once he was swung out into the clear at the top of the stretch, he closed like a freight train to get up for second before quickly galloping out past the winner. Stretched out to a mile in his second start, he showed more speed and professionally wore down a first-time starter to get the money.
That race received an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, which puts him squarely in the mix among the top contenders in this race. While the TimeformUS Speed Figure for the race came back considerably slower (90, and our scale typically runs 20 points higher), the race is marked with an “f,” indicating that there were too many lightly raced horses or first-time starters in the race. In other words, we do not have full confidence in the TimeformUS Speed Figure for this race. Those issues aside, Patch appears to have all the tools to handle this stretch-out to two turns. He’s by Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, and out of a stamina-oriented female family that produced champion and $2.7 million-earner Banshee Breeze. His half-sister Tiz Windy could run all day and excelled at this nine-furlong distance.
#2, HOLLYWOOD HANDSOME (12-1): Dallas Stewart has a knack for sending out live longshots in the Triple Crown races, but I’ll be surprised if this colt makes it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. He’s already had plenty of chances around two turns, and has yet to run fast enough to suggest he can compete at this level. You’ll have to hope for a fast pace that totally falls apart late if you’re looking for this horse to gain a minor award.
#3, LOCAL HERO (7-2): Speed is the name of the game for this son of Hard Spun. He knows one way to run, and he will attempt to lead this field all the way, going as fast as he can for as far as he can. Florent Geroux’s attempts to settle him early in the Risen Star proved futile as he ran off to a six-length lead on the backstretch while setting a demanding pace. He was still well in front by the time the field reached the top of the stretch, but those early exertions took their toll late and he faded to third.
Now Local Hero must stretch out an extra sixteenth of a mile while potentially facing early pressure from Monaco and Hotfoot. While he is unquestionably one of the most naturally talented horses in the race, I have concerns about his ability to get the distance, especially considering that his dam was a confirmed sprinter. His one hope of overcoming those factors would be a greater willingness to ration out his speed in the early going, but he has shown some reluctance to go along with that plan.
#4, SENIOR INVESTMENT (12-1): A disqualification two back prevents him from having won three in a row coming into this race. The colt that he defeated two back came back to impressively win a stakes over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park. This colt has been steadily improving for Ken McPeek, but he is facing a considerably tougher assignment here. I could use him underneath in trifectas or superfectas, but I’ll be surprised if he’s able to knock any of the main four out of the exacta.
#5, MONACO (12-1): One would normally assume that any colt coming off a 12-length maiden romp for Todd Pletcher would be a major contender in whichever Derby prep he chose to target. However, Monaco accomplished that feat against an awful field at Tampa, and both the Beyer and TimeformUS Speed Figures came up quite slow. This $1.3 million 2-year-old purchase has been a disappointment, and I’d be surprised if he were anything more than an early pace factor in this race.
#6, GUEST SUITE (4-1):
It’s hard not to be a little disappointed with this colt’s effort in the Risen Star. He appeared to be progressing so nicely coming out of his win in the Lecomte and had shown an affinity for the Fair Grounds surface. Sent off at odds of 7-2 in the Risen Star, he was more sluggish than usual in the opening stages of the race and dropped far off the pace. He actually reached a contending position at the top of the stretch and appeared poised to tackle the leaders, but then he just flattened out. It was especially inexcusable that he was not able to get by the tiring Local Hero in the late stages. The extra half-furlong figures to work in his favor, and his speed figures have continued their forward progression. He has a great chance to hit the board, but among the major players this colt in particular will need everything to break perfectly in order to come out on top.
#7, SORRY ERIK (30-1): He was never a factor in the Risen Star and appears to be overmatched once again.
#8, GIRVIN (8-5): It’s hard to find any major faults with the Risen Star winner. Sure, he worked out an absolutely perfect trip in that race, saving ground every step of the way before angling out around Local Hero in the stretch. However, he still finished off the race with good energy, sustaining his move after thrusting into the lead at the eighth pole. His 93 Beyer is the highest speed figure in the race, and his 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure is second only to the number Local Hero earned for his maiden victory.
Some may question how far he’ll ultimately want to go, given that his lone half-sibling, Cocked and Loaded, could handle a mile but was better sprinting. However, given what this colt has already accomplished, I believe that many of those fears have already been put to rest – at least far as this test is concerned. He is a deserving favorite, but as is so often the case with the latest “buzz horses” on the Triple Crown trail, he is going to be an awfully short price this time. I’ll certainly use him, but others figure to offer better value.
#9, HOTFOOT (30-1): His only dirt race that gives him any sort of chance was accomplished over a sloppy, sealed track. It’s unlikely that this one-dimensional front-runner will be able to deal with Local Hero’s early speed and still stick around for the finish.
Girvin (#8) is the horse to beat, but Patch (#1), Local Hero (#3), and Guest Suite (#6) also have legitimate chances to win. Given the expected underlay status of the favorite, the horse that interests me most out of that group is recent maiden winner Patch, who should be the biggest price. I think this horse is going to love the added ground that he gets to work with, and I’m just not convinced that we’ve seen the strongest group of 3-year-olds contesting these Fair Grounds preps, so I’m open to a new face.
Exacta key box: 1 with 3, 6, 8
Trifecta: 1 with 3, 6, 8 with 3, 4, 6, 8
Vexatious could be the key to Fair Grounds’ All-Graded Stakes Pick-4
Race 8: New Orleans Handicap (G2)
Noble Bird (#9) is obviously the most talented horse in this race when he’s on his game, but he can be somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde, and you never know which version is going to show up. I have to use him, but I want more coverage. Breaking Lucky (#1) has run dirt races that give him a chance to beat even the good Noble Bird, so he must be included. Given that the Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, I’ll also throw in closers International Star (#3), who put in a wild late rally through the stretch last time, and Hawaakom (#6), who has been in career form lately.
Race 9: Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2)
Kasaqui (#8) feels like the horse they all have to take down. He’s kept the best company and earned the fastest speed figures. I think we can lean on him in multi-race wagers, but I would want some backup coverage given the favorite inexperience with the local turf course. I will also use Enterprising (#1), Roman Approval (#4), Oscar Nominated (#10), and Special Ops (#11).
Race 10: Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)
In my opinion, this race provides the key to this Pick-4 sequence. Farrell (#6) will be a deserving favorite given her dominance of the local prep races, but I think she faces a formidable new face in California shipper Vexatious (#5). This Neil Drysdale-trained filly ran much better than it appears last time in her three-year-old debut. Facing colts, she became headstrong on the backstretch before getting shuffled back behind tiring runners at a critical point on the far turn. Despite the fact that she lost all of her position and forward momentum, she still re-rallied to finish third. I don’t think we’ve yet seen the best of this full-sister to Creative Cause and Destin.
Race 11: Louisiana Derby (G2)
Patch (#1) is my top pick, but I will also use his main rival, Girvin (#8), as well as other logical contenders Local Hero (#3) and Guest Suite (#6). See full analysis for more on this race.
THE PICK-4 PLAY
$0.50 Pick-4: 1,3,6,9 with 1,4,8,10,11 with 5 with 1,3,6,8
$0.50 Pick-4: 1,3,6,9 with 8 with 6 with 1,3,6,8
$0.50 Pick-4: 1,3,6,9 with 1,4,10,11 with 6 with 1