Guest Suite took the LeComte Stakes (G3) on Saturday at Fair Grounds, the first race on the road to the Louisiana Derby in March. The race featured a strong pace that was coming apart late, and didn’t come back especially fast, but it’s still January, so there’s a lot of time for these to improve, though they will have to.
The race was run over a muddy track after some heavy rain hit the area in the preceding 24 hours.
Here is our preview for the race. We liked Shareholder Value, who ran just ok, and even though he had to go wide, probably should have finished a bit better considering he got some pace to run into.
Fractions – 23.42, 46.47, 1:12.19, 1:38.34, 1:43.20 (1 mile 70 yards)
Winning Beyer – 82
Winning Margin – 1 1/4 lengths
Pace and Flow – Phat Man went out to the lead and was pressed all the way by Running Mate. Both dropped back and were not around at the finish. Takeoff, who wired a maiden field in his previous start, was closet to the pace among the five at the finish, running third. Guest Suite and Untrapped, the runner-up, rallied from sixth and fifth after a half mile. The pace would have to be considered solid, though not supersonic.
On the Winner – Guest Suite had a nice trip, two-wide early, angling out, 4-wide into the lane, and getting the jump on some others. He does give the impression that he wants to go farther and the 10-furlongs of the Derby won’t be an issue. As we noted in the preview, trainer Neil Howard brings his horses along slowly, so getting a nice win this early is a positive. He’ll have to improve, but this was a solid performance.
The Others – Runner-up Untrapped had an inside-out trip, but did have to wait for room while Guest Suite swept by him at the top of the lane. Considering he’s out of a Giant’s Causeway dam, and had only two sprints to his credit, he might be the one you want out of this race for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Third-place finisher Takeoff was noted above and ran pretty well, being closest to the pace among the five at the finish.
Arklow, the fourth-place finisher, had a nice inside-out trip into the lane, but when he got to the outside, he got bumped by Untrapped, and then hemmed in by Shareholder Value. He could have been closer.
Shareholder Value was well back, swung out wide, but was pretty flat in the lane. He probably should have done better.
What’s Next (Louisiana) – The Louisiana Derby trail continues on February 25th with the Risen Star Stakes. All of these horses are based at Fair Grounds (there were no shippers allowed in for this race due to the quarantine, which is ending…expect some for the next leg).
What’s Next (Derby Trail) – The full Derby Prep schedule can be found here. There’s nothing this coming weekend on the Derby trail, with the racing world focused on California Chrome and Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream.
Then, beginning February 4th, there are Derby points races each weekend through April 15th. On that day, there are races at Gulfstream (Holy Bull, likely featuring Juvenile Champion Classic Empire), Aqueduct (Withers), and Santa Anita.