The Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby closes out Fair Grounds’ Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve with an added wrinkle for some of the top 3-year-olds.
While the other final preps are contested at a 1 1/8-mile distance, the Louisiana Derby is run at 1 3/16 miles, requiring the field to run an extra sixteenth of a mile and provide an added measure of insight into the runners’ chances of handling the 1 ¼-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby.
1. Starrininmydreams (20-1 morning-line odds): His stakes debut was forgettable as he finished ninth, beaten by 27 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and he faces the top four finishers from that race here. He had some trouble, such as breaking slowly and being rank, but he’ll need a vastly improved effort here to be a factor. Getting a jockey switch to Luis Saez helps.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Dallas Stewart
2. Rightandjust (20-1): He set the pace in the Risen Star but faded to sixth at the finish line. He should be pressed by some top contenders once again and the added distance doesn’t help his cause.
JOCKEY: Colby Hernandez; TRAINER: Shane Wilson
3. Run Classic (12-1): Was an impressive maiden winner in just his second start, but he faces an uphill climb making his stakes debut in such a tough and deep field.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Bret Calhoun
4. Proxy (7-2): He’s part of a trio of horses who will be meeting for third time in a Fair Grounds prep. He was second in both the Lecomte Stakes and the Risen Star and should be a main threat here. Adding blinkers could help him work out a winning trip.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Michael Stidham
5. Hot Rod Charlie (3-1): Runner-up in last year’s TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, he was a narrowly beaten third in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, finishing a neck and a nose behind the victorious Medina Spirit despite a troubled trip. California shippers finished 1-2 in last week’s Rebel Stakes, and he certainly has the look of another dangerous runner from the Golden State who can prevail in a major Derby prep.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Leandro Mora
6. Mandaloun (8-5): He won the Risen Star with a sharp effort, moving forward after finishing third in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. The way he drew clear in the stretch and his pedigree bodes well for his chances of handling the extra sixteenth of a mile here and stamps him as the one to beat.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
7. Midnight Bourbon (5-1): He beat Proxy and Mandaloun in the Lecomte while posting a gate-to-wire victory. In the Risen Star at 1 1/8 miles, he pressed the pace in second and tired in the stretch to finish third. The added ground may work against him here, but if he can grab the early lead he might be able to duplicate his Lecomte victory.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
8. O Besos (15-1): He rallied wide to finish fourth in the Risen Star while making his stakes debut. He’s certainly capable of taking a step forward here, but drawing the outside post might work against him in a strong field.
JOCKEY: Marcelino Pedroza; TRAINER: Greg Foley
THE PICK: Mandaloun
LIVE LONGSHOT: O Besos