Revolutionary, winner of the G3 Withers Stakes, is the morning-line favorite on the 100th running of the G2 Louisiana Derby to be run this Saturday at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La.
The Louisiana Derby is part of the last tier of races on the the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points series that determines starters for the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. It awards 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers in the race.
This fact might be the main reason why for the first time in over 50 years it has drawn a full field of 14 starters. A very deep and talented field where the top trainers are represented with potential winners to consider.
Revolutionary has definitely earned the honors as the favorite for the race. The Todd Pletcher-trainee had to overcome big traffic problems and surged late through horses to win the G3 Withers in his last start.
He had to grow up on the fly in that race, and jockey Javier Castellano showed extreme confidence in him. He finished the race full of run and galloped out very well, showing that the added distance should be no problem for him.
While he showed a lot of grit and determination, the competition then was nowhere near the quality he will face on Saturday.
Still, Revolutionary is still the only horse in the race to earn a triple-digit Beyer Figure (102); something he did when he broke his maiden two races ago. He is primed for a big race, working on Sunday in company with G2 Remsen Stakes winner Overanalyze. Both were clocked at 48.20 for four furlongs.
Palace Malice is the other Pletcher-trained horse in the race. On his last start, he rallied in the G3 Risen Star to finish third just half-a-length beaten after having to run slightly wide all the way around.
He worked out in company with BC Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby last Sunday and visually outworked him. They were both clocked at 1:00.82 for five furlongs, but he did it with less effort than his stablemate.
Last month, he worked in company with the now-retired G1 winner Violence last month and could not be separated at the wire. This is a talented horse that needs to transfer his morning workout form to afternoon race time form.
If he achieves this, he will be very tough to beat on Saturday. Rosie Napravnik was aboard for his last start; but with her traveling to ride Shanghai Bobby at the Florida Derby, veteran Edgar Prado gets the mount.
Bob Baffert's Code West lost by a nose his last time out at the G3 Risen Star here at Fair Grounds. He battled for the lead since the start, and came back to almost win after falling to fourth place at the top of the stretch.
He showed he can handle this track, and worked a sharp 1:00.20 for five furlongs as preparation for this race. Jockey Martin Garcia has been aboard on his last three races and gets the return mount.
Trainer All Stall Jr brings two interesting local colts to this race, Departing and Sunbean.
Departing is unbeaten in three starts and won the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston by 2.75 lengths in his last start on Mar. 2. He earned a 97 Beyer figure for that effort, and his 47.20 four furlongs workout shows he is in excellent shape coming into this race.
He has great tactical speed and regular jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. back aboard. Even when he is stepping up in class for this race, this improving colt is one to watch out for on Saturday.
Sunbean is a winner in three of his four starts. His only loss was by a nose in his debut last Dec. 8. He captured the $60,000 Gentilly Stakes by 4.75 lengths on Feb. 2 and the $105,000 Louisiana Futurity on Dec. 31, both ungraded stakes here at Fair Grounds
He has not accomplished as much in terms of Beyer figures or the quality of the competition beaten like his stablemate. But he has run all his four races locally and with some improvement he could contend for the win. Regular jockey Colby Hernandez returns to ride him.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is hot on the Derby trail and has likely pace-setter, Titletown Five, representing him on the race. He comes from finishing second in the ungraded Gazebo at Oaklawn Park back on Mar. 2.
While he has shown talent, this will be his first time stretching father than seven furlongs and in tough company. He will play catch me if you can, but he will need to have a very easy lead to have a shot here.
Proud Strike had Gary Stevens fly in to ride him in his last start at the G3 Risen Star. Prior to that race he had been improving in large chunks with his Beyer Figures on each of his three races. But he was forced to go to the lead early and had nothing left at the end, finishing eighth.
Still, he was beaten by just 3.5 lengths in that race, so look for this horse to run just off the pace on Saturday. Trainer Steven Asmussen has jockey Corey Nakatani fly in to ride him with Gary Stevens in Dubai for the DWC.
Mylute is a battle horse that always shows up with a good effort. His last race at the G3 Risen Star was a seventh-place finish, but just 3.25 lengths behind the winner.
He had romped to a 10-length win in an optional claimer race last December under Rosie Napravnik. Prior to that, he finished third, just three lengths behind Derby points co-leader Goldencents at the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) this past November.
He still needs to improved on those efforts to win here, but he could be a fair play for the exotics.
Golden Soul comes from running evenly all the way at the G3 Risen Star, finishing sixth. He had no late kick at the end, but did improve big in his stakes debut. If he improves again he could show up late.
Ground Transport is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. He lost his debut to Departing and won his next two after that. He works bullets in the mornings; if he can duplicate them in the afternoon he will contend here.
Brazilian Court romped to a 19-lengths win breaking his maiden two races ago. He finished second in the OBS Championship his last time out, but this company here is much tougher than any he's faced so far.
Nina's Dragon has run well in three races over the synthetic surface at Golden Gate. He finished second in the El Camino Real Derby in his last race, but trying dirt and a better competition is a tough spot to race on for him.
Hip Four Sixtynine just broke his maiden in his seventh try. This is race for him will be like jumping from Class A to the Big Leagues in baseball.
Whiskey Bravo won a $50,000 maiden claiming race at the Fair Grounds in Jan. 25, But he has been beaten soundly in his three other races, which include wins by rivals Departing and Ground Transport.
I expect Palace Malice to finally break through with a big race here. He is just due for that race, and veteran jockey Edgar Prado knows how to win the big races. Code West will battle again and be a game second-place finisher.
Revolutionary will run a good race but will fall short finishing third. The horse to watch is Departing. Expect him to be near the lead and will have first crack at the leader; from there on he will be the horse to catch.
Win: Palace Malice (2)
Place: Code West (8)
Show: Revolutionary (3)
Honorable Mention: Departing (7)
Louisiana Derby | Grade 2 | Purse: $1 million
Fair Grounds | 9th Race | Post Time: 5:44 p.m. CT
Distance: 1800 Meters (9.0 furlongs)
|1 ||Hip Four Sixtynine||Jamie H. Theriot II||Bobby C. Barnett||30-1|
|2||Palace Malice||Edgar S. Prado||Todd A. Pletcher||5-1|
|3||Revolutionary||Javier J. Castellano||Todd A. Pletcher||3-1|
|4||Golden Soul||Calvin H. Borel||Dallas Stewart||20-1|
|5||Whiskey Bravo||James Graham||J. Keith Desormeaux||30-1|
|6||Sunbean||Colby J. Hernandez||Albert M. Stall Jr||12-1|
|7||Departing||Brian J. Hernandez Jr||Albert M. Stall Jr||8-1|
|8||Code West||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||9-2|
|9||Proud Strike||Corey S. Nakatani||Steven M. Asmussen||10-1|
|10||Titletown Five||Jon K. Court||D. Wayne Lukas||8-1|
|11||Mylute||Shaun X. Bridgmohan||Thomas Amoss||12-1|
|12||Brazilian Court||Miguel Mena||Michael J. Maker||30-1|
|13||Ground Transport||Mark Guidry||Michael Stidham||20-1|
|14||Nina's Dragon||Julien Couton||Lloyd C. Mason||30-1|
Top Recent Workouts
|Horse||Date||Track/Surface||Distance||Time ||Day Rank|
|1- Hip Four Sixtynine ||Mar. 16 ||
FG ||4F ||48.00 ||2/52
|2- Palace Malice||Mar. 24||PmM||5F||1:00.82||6/34|
|7- Departing||Mar. 24||FG||4F||47.20||1/65|
|8- Code West||Mar. 24||SA||5F||1:00.20||5/63|
|13- Ground Transport||Mar. 16||FG||5F||59.40||1/43|
Morning Line odds by drf.com.