Typically you can count on the New Orleans circuit to spit out a couple legitimate Derby contenders every Spring. Last year, Friesan Fire took all the hype heading into the first Saturday in May.
This year its a little different story as the two favorites, Ron the Greek and Stay Put, were caught near the rear with slow fractions being set by Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star Stakes on February 20th.
A 13-horse field has been assembled to start in the Louisiana Derby at The Fair Grounds on Saturday afternoon. Ron the Greek and Stay Put will get their chance for redemption in the more important of the two prep races run in New Orleans.
The question most are asking, 'Was Discreetly Mine's victory in the Risen Star lightning in a bottle? Or, can the front runner steal the show and head into the Derby as one of the leading contenders?
Opening up at odds of 7-2 isn't a huge bode of confidence for the Todd Pletcher trained colt. After having some traffic trouble in the slop during the Spectacular Bid Stakes from Gulfstream Park in January, Javier Castellano took him straight to the front and never looked back in the Risen Star.
The second choice on the morning line is A Little Warm (4-1). A rider change to David Cohen for Anthony Dutrow could make a difference with this Virginia-bred colt.
It's tough to tell whether his second-place finish in the $150,000 Hutcheson was a good second or only close because D'Funnybone was in hand for a majority of the stretch. Either way, A Little Warm is going to need a quick pace to run at. In addition, this time around he will have a couple of the local trainees to deal with as closers as well.
The sneakiest of horses drew the unlucky 13 post. Drosselmeyer owned by WinStar Farms has had some of his hype disappear since his second-place finish in the Risen Star. He is 5-1 on the morning line from the far outside.
If the plan for trainer Bill Mott is the same as in his previous start, the post position is really irrelevant. The colt closed impressively on the slow pace set by Discreetly Mine to only miss by 1 3/4 lengths.
Mott hasn't been the luckiest of trainers when it comes to finding Derby talent, but he is well respected among the best in the game. If his colt can get the jump on some of the other closers in the race late, he would be a definite late-blooming contender in Louisville.
Others with a shot include the aforementioned Ron the Greek (6-1) and Stay Put (10-1). Also in the mix is Mission Impazible (8-1), another Pletcher-trained colt. He was a $200,000 yearling sale and is looking to make a big statement on Saturday. Nick Zito will enter Fly Down (8-1), a three-year old Mineshaft Colt with some interesting aspects to his game.
A longshot to be reckoned with could be Island Soul (20-1), Robby Albarado will be in the saddle for Steve Asmussen. There is not a whole lot of breeding to note, but he was a $230,000 purchase as a two-year old.