Fair Grounds runs the $1 million G2 Louisiana Derby on Saturday, the final stop on the Louisiana “Road to Louisville” series. Let’s take a look at the field.
1 – Patch (9-2) – Todd Pletcher ships Patch in from Gulfstream where he finished second in his debut going one mile after a slow start and returned to win nicely with a strong 89 Beyer going 8.5 furlongs in his second start. He should get a good trip from this inside post and gives the impression that more ground will be better for him. He also faces a group of horses out of the Risen Star that did not come back overly impressive. He’s a major contender.
2 – Hollywood Handsome (12-1) – This Dallas Stewart runner is a deep closer that finally topped the 70 Beyer mark in his last start with a 75 in a two-turn allowance race, but he’s in over his head here.
3 – Local Hero (7-2) – I thought he ran a good race in the Risen Star, setting a strong pace while well clear and he was run down by the perfect trip Girvin late while Local Hero was making just his fourth career start. Still, he’s going to have to take another step forward and there is some other potential speed in here.
4 – Senior Investment (12-1) – Ken McPeek sends out this runner who won an allowance race here in January before he was disqualified. He then went to Oaklawn, where he won another allowance race by three, and was not disqualified. Stretching to 9 furlongs shouldn’t be a problem, but he’s another, with a career best Beyer of just 78, that will have to take a major step forward.
5 – Monaco (12-1) – He was a $1.3 million 2-year old in training purchase last year that debuted at a very cold 7-2 on Travers Day at Saratoga and was a bad sixth for Todd Pletcher before heading to Florida off a four month layoff, getting beat in a maiden race at 4-5. They sent him up to Tampa where he won a maiden race by 12 but got a 58 Beyer. He adds blinkers for this race, but has just disappointed throughout and obviously would have to run so much better than he’s ever run before.
6 – Guest Suite (4-1) – He’s been progressing nicely for trainer Neil Howard on a speed figure basis and has improved his Beyer figure in each of his last five starts. Still, however, he’s only up to an 89 and his win two-back in the LeComte was slow (82) with a good trip, and his race in the Risen Star was disappointing. In that race, he got some pace, angled out, and didn’t impact in a slow race. We’ve been fans of the horse, but we have to oppose him here.
7 – Sorry Erik (30-1) – Keith Desormeaux sent out a 100-1 runner-up in the Rebel at Oaklawn two weeks ago. Sorry Erik may not be that price, but he also has an uphill climb. He doesn’t have any early speed and and hasn’t yet run a race that is fast enough to impact.
8 – Girvin (8-5) – He’s the favorite off his win in the Risen Star. He had the rail that day and was given a spectacular ride by Brian Hernandez, Jr., saving ground on both turns and tipping out at the top of the lane behind the fast pace. He drew off to win easily in just his third start, but the race didn’t come back especially fast and he’ll be a short price today. Obviously, he’s the horse to beat, but he’s also a horse that we’re willing to oppose here.
9 – Hotfoot (30-1) – Joe Sharp, who trains Girvin, sends out Hotfoot, a speed horse that could be used as a rabbit (they’re both owned by Brad Grady). That would impact Local Hero, but it would help others as well. His best figure of 79 was earned on a sloppy track.
The Pace – Hotfoot is the expected pace-setter (as a likely rabbit) and Local Hero will have to track him from 2nd, something he hasn’t done in either of his two route races (he was 2nd throughout in his 7-furlong debut race).
Analysis – We noted our willingness to oppose Girvin and we will do so with Patch from the inside. From his debut, we noted that he looked like a horse that wanted more ground. Today he gets 9 furlongs and a likely good trip from the inside post. He’s the play.