Louisiana Derby Preview

March 22, 2019

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Once again George Sette has taken his considerable talent to Past the Wire to preview the Louisiana Derby for us.

Our Geo at work
Fair Grounds Race # 13  The Grade 2  $1,000.000 The Louisiana Derby One Mile & 1/8       
 
It’s the special time of year where every weekend we are blessed to watch a very meaningful three-year-old race leading to the first Saturday in May, and the much-anticipated run for the roses. There’s always a possibility of a real dynamic champion developing from a race like this. Gun Runner and his dominating performance back in 2016 is a great example as he went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic the following year.
So we have a solid, but not overly dynamic field taking on the 9 furlongs and hoping to emerge a contender for any jewel of the Triple Crown and the potential greatness that may develop going forward as an older horse.
The following order is my most precise and most probable of hitting the winning circle and the board. It is actually a pretty decent race because there are some important questions that will be answered, which makes it like many “Kentucky Derby Prep Races”  interesting to not only watch but take a stab at as well.  Here is  how I see it finishing.  It’s an eleven horse field, I suggest always giving added attention to my top 4 listed.
# 6 War Of Will       You know as a seasoned handicapper, I’m always breaking down a myriad of past performance angles, I dip into the pedigree and the behavior of the horses in the paddock. I also observe their habits and their abilities when I do my video handicapping.
This race was no different, and I just couldn’t find a competent reason to go against this colt in this spot.  He’s not only coming off a pair of impressive stake victories over the same Fair Ground soil ( Grade 2 Risen Star) less than a month ago,  but he sports what could be the perfect tactical speed to once again be in perfect position to fire his best as they turn for home.  The solid connections of Mark Casse and Tyler Gaffalione have paired up to winning his last 3 starts, inclusive with breaking his maiden in the slop at Churchill Downs in his final race as a two-year-old. He’s always shown his early foot, even as they began his career with four races on the weeds. I feel this developed him nicely into a more patient stalker type. He’s also keeping fit with decent morning drills.  On paper and based on his propensity to stay close, it’s simply hard to logically go against him in this spot.
I expect window action to produce what could be a 4-5 mutual, anything more than that would be a gift. 
War of Will relaxing in his Fair Grounds stall prior to the Louisiana Derby
# 4 Sueno      Interesting colt who began his career sprinting at Del Mar for maiden claiming tags, and has shown continuous improvement. He has shown surface versatility as he’s raced over 4 strips in his 5 career starts. He’s been competitive in every race, typically saving his best strides late in the final furlong. To me that is always an encouraging sign. He has stretched out well and I feel he is well suited by the distance. Corey Lanerie up for Keith Desormeaux offers added confidence. His chances improve if this shakes out to be a fast pace. It all depends on how fast # 2 Lemniscate gets out and if he’s chased at all. I’m thinking that he’ll sit 4th or so through the first 4 panels, gain position and fire his best with a clear path and perhaps become a menace to my top choice.
He certainly has the ability to complete what could be an $18.00 exacta, not too shabby for a $2.00 wager. 
# 8 Country House     This guy broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park after starting dead last with little interest out of the gate. Then he sparkled and won rather effortlessly at an odds on price.  He followed by placing vs my top choice in the Grade 2 Risen Star, but again he was off slow in what was a large 14 horse field.  So yeah, I have concerns about his habitual slow beginnings, something that will eventually cost you money, but his overall numbers are impressive and they suggest enough talent to continue to improve. I originally had him 5th in my initial handicap, but moved him up.
I trust Mott to get him going, he too should be making his presence felt during the final furlong. 
#10 Spinoff      Any Grade 2 featuring Todd Pletcher and Johnny V will make you give it a longer look. He’s working steadily with consistent breezes, and is coming off a “waltz type”eleven length win at Tampa Bay facing inferior competition. He was able to stretch out and pull away after being bumped, so I can see the talent. It makes him a contender in this spot as he faces his biggest field yet. ( he’s raced in fields of 5 and 4 previously)  I look for him to show some tactical speed, then settle in and look for the best lane to move forward.
He’s capable of moving forward but he really isn’t battle tested yet. 
# 5 By My Standards   He’s been consistent and reliable as a check earner finishing in the money in all four of his MSW starts. Three of them were over this same surface, graduating in his last after being bumped early, but then had a beautiful trip to emerge victoriously. There’s always some concern when facing winners for the first time, but this guy seems fresh and fit and worthy of my 5th place consideration. On his best day he could better my rating.
# 2 Lemniscate       This guy has impressive speed and will likely lead this field through 5 furlongs. The pace will make the race. I just feel he will be pressed some and eventually get tired and falter late. He’s got a nice breeze coming into this race and they stretched him out nicely on the weeds, but because having not raced as 2-year-old limits his strength and overall conditioning. I’m feeling this may be too much of a class jump to pull off a shocker here.
Watch the board but I can’t see him getting much backing
# 11 Hog Creek Hustle     First things first. He drew a bad post for his running style. I do like his works coming to this race, both over the same Fair Grounds soil.  He’s been beaten soundly by my top choice on two occasions. He gets some added consideration because he packs a powerful closing punch. If he gets a perfect trip and the pace is fast, he can perhaps grab a part of the bottom gimmicks.
He needs many things to go his way.
# 3 Limonite      This son of Lemon Drop Kid has the pedigree to get the distance, and the connections of J Ortiz and Steven Asmussen are always appealing especially with what is likely to be window value. He’s another slow starter who I feel may need a race before he does his best running. As much as I have great respect for the great connections.
I will have to pass on them in this field
# 9 Bankit     Just as I mentioned with Limonite, the 2nd starter trained by Asmussen and with the fabulous Irad Ortiz in the saddle is appealing to consider. The numbers are just not there however. I feel his ability should be used in lower stakes caliber fields. This colt does have adequate experience, but he has had many chances to shine and has failed to be impressive.
Watch the board, 20-1 with Irad in the saddle should tell you something.
# 1 Roiland     Slow starter and buried on the rail is not encouraging. He has shown some nice closing ability.
He seems up against it in this spot.
# 7 Mr. Money     His first race as a three-year-old wasn’t very impressive. There are several other horses that look much better in this field.
Save your money, don’t bet Mr. Money, even if # 7 is your lucky number or your last name.
 It should be a nice day of racing in Louisiana,  a great card….. Enjoy the day.
~Geo Sette

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