Mar 26, 2010
Louisiana Derby Should Answer Many Questions
By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Discreetly Mine heads a field of 13 in Saturday's first Louisiana Derby to be run at 1 1/8-miles since 1987. The Risen Star winner was installed as the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite over A Little Warm (4-1), Drosselmeyer (5-1) and Ron the Greek (6-1).
Recent history suggests the winner of this race will not be a factor on the first Saturday in May as the last Louisiana Derby champion to be draped in the blanket of roses was Grindstone back in 1996. Black Gold was the only other horse to pull off the double victory but that was 86 years ago. Regardless of past history, this race could give the general public a good idea about which region of the country is the strongest.
Mission Impazible comes over from Arkansas after competing in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Fly Down ventures to Louisiana after defeating First Dude in back-to-back races, first at Churchill Downs then at Gulfstream Park. Bob Baffert brings The Program over from California after a third-place finish to Alphie's Bet in the Sham and Wow Wow Wow comes to Louisiana after getting squashed by Awesome Act in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
Discreetly Mine is the only member of the field that has secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby due to $310,000 of graded earnings. However, being assured a spot in the Run for the Roses doesn't automatically lead to a win in this race. Remember, Todd Pletcher recently sent Rule to the Florida Derby and that colt failed to finish first or second.
It's quite possible the same thing could happen here, especially since Discreetly Mine will face severe pressure on the lea, something that did not occur in the Risen Star Stakes when he coasted gate to wire to win by 1 1/2- lengths.
The speedy Wow Wow Wow will more than likely clear the field from post 10, so it will be up to Discreetly Mine to rate behind the probable pacesetter. Unfortunately, he has not to show he's capable of such an assignment over a fast track.
There's also the question of handling the nine furlongs. It's one thing to wire the field at 1 1/16-miles with slow early fractions, but it's an entirely different story going 1 1/8-miles for the first time having to chase and then be chased.
Drosselmeyer is the only Louisiana Derby entry that has been the distance twice before. However, the probable second choice has the unfortunate task of breaking from the far outside post (number 13).
After winning two straight races over the winter, Drosselmeyer failed to fire vs. Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star. The slow pace had a lot to do with his fourth-place finish, but don't forget, he still couldn't get past 53-1 shot Northern Giant inside the final furlong.
Since the first four finishers that day held the very same positions around the far turn, the race played out like a follow-the-leader game. Stay Put, winner of his two previous attempts, couldn't even hit the board, finishing fifth.
Nevertheless, the stone-closer did rally from 10th position (9 3/4-lengths behind) after a slow 48 3/5-second first half-mile, to wind up fifth, beaten only 2 3/4-lengths. The chestnut colt should benefit from the added early pace this time around.
The Program is another colt that could upset the favorite, especially since this will be his first attempt on traditional dirt after eight races over synthetics. He's got the tactical speed to sit just off the leaders and also the pedigree to excel at nine furlongs.
Even with Stay Put and The Program as viable longshots, the Louisiana Derby winner will be Fly Down from the Nick Zito barn.
The two-time winner came back running off an 85-day layoff to defeat First Dude by a head in a February 21 allowance race at Gulfstream Park. First Dude, if you remember, ran into all sorts of problems at the top of the stretch in the Florida Derby and still ran a credible fifth to Ice Box.
Three other reasons why Fly Down is a great bet in the Louisiana Derby: 1) jockey Jose Lezcano remains with the colt, 2) the expected quick pace should help his cause, and 3) he put forth a bullet four-furlong workout last Saturday at Palm Meadows, the same maneuver Zito used for Ice Box a week before that colt won the Florida Derby.
Selections: 1) Fly Down; 2) Stay Put; 3) The Program.
LANE'S END STAKES
Todd Pletcher has another morning line favorite in Connemara, who won the El Camino Real Derby in his last start. More importantly, the chestnut colt already sports a victory at Turfway Park with a five-length score in his debut last October.
The only concern for Connemara is his tendency to break poorly from the gate. Still, the lack of quality in this field should help him overcome any obstacles he might face during the running of the race.
Kettle River, his chief competitor, comes to Kentucky after a miserable trip in the Sham. Squeezed slightly at the start, the son of Congaree settled into last early on and remained in that spot after checking slightly around the final turn. Jockey Brice Blanc had him trapped behind a wall of horses entering the stretch and the Eoin Harty-trained colt showed little down the lane finishing a disappointing eighth. An appropriate rider change to James Lopez, who recently posted his 1,0000th career victory on a horse at Turfway Park, will certainly help Kettle River's chances to upset Connemara.
Doubles Partner is another colt to watch as he makes the transition from turf to dirt. He comes into the Lane's End off a huge win over Lentenor (fourth in the Florida Derby) and Saint Eligius at 1 1/8-miles on the turf at Gulfstream Park last month.
The son of Rock Hard Ten made a huge middle move in his lone race on Polytrack last fall at Keeneland only to falter through the stretch. However, he has improved since then and could have a major impact on Saturday.
Selections: 1) Kettle River; 2) Connemara; 3) Doubles Partner.
THE UAE DERBY
The undefeated Mendip squares off against Musir in the UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
Mendip prepped for the race with a win in the Al Bastakiya by 6 1/4-lengths over a pair of South American colts on March 4. The son of Harlan's Holiday looks to be Godolphin's lone chance to make it to Churchill Downs since Vale of York is sidelined with a bout of colic.
Musir, bred in Australia, has won his last three, including a victory over Frozen Power, who came back to win the Meydan Classic at one mile on the turf.
Look for Musir to outduel Mendip in the stretch to win this 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 event.
In the $10 million Dubai World Cup, go with a pair of longshots in Gloria De Campeano (the second-place finisher in last year's race) and Crowded House to upset Gio Ponti and Gitano Hernando.
SUNDAY'S SUNLAND DERBY
Conveyance and Tempted to Tapit, the morning line top two choices, should run one-two for most of the race since they are the two main speeds. Nevertheless, there are a number of other colts that could force the issue on the front end, namely Classical Slew and Nacho Friend.
Look for recent maiden winner Endorsement to log a very good trip and possibly nail Conveyance at the wire.
The son of Distorted Humor was a highly sought after yearling fetching $450,000 at the Keeneland September 2008 sales. It took him three tries to find the winner's circle but he could surprise the big boys at a very decent price.
Selections: 1) Endorsement; 2) Conveyance; 3) Tempted to Tapit.
<< Back To Newsletter