The Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Big Easy starts on Saturday with 11 entered to go in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds.
The Lecomte is one of six stakes races on the 13-race Fair Grounds card and offers up 10-4-2-1 Derby points in the first of three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races at the New Orleans track this season.
The Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 13 will offer 50-20-10-5 points and the marquee event of the meet, the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 20 will award 100-40-20-1 points.
The 3-1 morning line favorite for the Lecomte is the Bad Cox trained Mandaloun, who is perfect in his first two starts and makes his stakes debut for Juddmonte Farms. Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Saud, the owner of Juddmonte passed away on Tuesday.
“He’s got a good base underneath of him off the two starts and now, hopefully, it will work out and he’ll show us what we think we’ve seen from him,” Cox said. “You never know until you try it. We hope he makes a good account of himself on Saturday.”
Mandaloun is currently sitting at +3000 in early Kentucky Derby future wagering at BUSR.
Midnight Bourbon, Proxy Are Threats
The Steve Asmussen trained Midnight Bourbon is the 7-2 second choice in the Lecomte. The colt makes his first start since his third in the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 10.
The well bred Proxy may end up offering more bang for the buck if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line. The Michael Stidham trainee beat Alw-2L company over the Fair Grounds main track in his last outing on Dec. 19.
Both Beep Beep (12-1) and Manor House (8-1) are cross entered in today’s eighth race and are likely scratches, which would bring the field down to nine.
My Best Plays for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Fair Grounds.
Let’s head out to Fair Grounds for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Fair Grounds Race 13 The Lecomte G3 (5:49 CT)
4 Proxy 6-1
10 Mandaloun 3-1
2 Arabian Prince 6-1
1 Midnight Bourbon 7-2
The Stidham trainee makes his debut stake here after beating Alw-2L foes last out over the main track here as the heavy favorite. The colt hit the gate at the break, dueling for the early lead, drifted out under a left handed whip brushing with a foe, drifted out again late as he drew away to win by 2 ½ lengths. After getting beaten a neck in his debut he broke his maiden here two back in his second career outing. This guy has a nice pedigree, by Tapit out of the multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Panty Raid ($1.05 million) who has dropped four other foals to race with three winners including stakes winner Micheline ($545,798). The Godolphin trainee has shown he can handle two turns and while a bit green in his last two starts, he appears to still have plenty of room for improvement.
This colt is likely going to end up lighter than his 3-1 morning line. The Cox trainee broke his maiden going six furlongs at Keeneland and then was a smart looking winner over ALw-1 optional claimers at seven furlongs last out at Churchill Downs. Three runners have exited his last race to run back and two have won. This guy has plenty of pedigree to handle his first trip around two turns. He is by Into Mischief out of the stakes winner Brooch ($217,059) who won a Group 2 and Group 3 at nine furlongs in Ireland. The Cox barn is 27% winners moving runners from sprint to route. The colt owns the top last out speed fig and the extra ground should not be a problem.
The colt made a mild late rally to finish third last out in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over the Churchill Downs main track. He broke his maiden in his debut going a one turn mile and then was fourth in the Street Sense two back in his first start going two turns. He has shown improvement with each outing and should get an honest pace to run at.
WIN: Proxy to win at 9-2 or better.
EXACTA: 4 / 1,2,5,10 and 4,10 / 2,4,10