A field of nine will line up on Saturday at Fair Grounds in the marquee race of the meeting, the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs toward entry into the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Leading the pack is Girvin, who was installed as the 8-5 favorite. The Joe Sharp trainee picked up 50 Derby points for his victory in the Risen Star (G2) in his last out, so his ticket to Louisville is already stamped. The colt is currently in sixth place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings.
His current betting odds in early Kentucky Derby wagering at US Racing is +2500.
He faces a trio of runners he beat in the Risen Star including third place finish Local Hero (7-2) and Guest Suite (4-1), who was fourth.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends in an intriguing pair of recent maiden winners in Patch (9-2) and Monaco (12-1).
Girvin is looking to become the third straight Risen Star winner to go on and win the Louisiana Derby, following in the hoofsteps of Gun Runner last year and International Star in 2015.
Seven of the last 10 winners of the Louisiana Derby came out of the Risen Star and Hero of Order used the local Black Gold Stakes as his final prep.
The only two winners that prepped outside of New Orleans in recent years is Revolutionary, who came in 2013 off a win in the Withers (G3) and Mission Impazible, who was third in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his final prep.
Gun Runner is the lone runner from the race to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby las year, checking in third.
Fair Grounds has a 15-race card on tap for Saturday with six supporting stakes including the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2) and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2).
Let’s head out to the Bayou for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Fair Grounds Race 11 The Louisiana Derby G2 Post time 5:21 CT
6 Guest Suite 4-1
8 Girvin 8-5
3 Local Hero 7-2
1 Patch 9-2
Guest Suite checked in fourth behind the morning line favorite in here last out in the Risen Star (G3), The colt was farther back early that I expected, coming with a three-wide bid and finishing evenly, beaten 4 ½ lengths for the top spot. The gelding won the LeComte (G3) two back with a good late rally. He has been working sharply in the mornings for trainer Neil Howard and Albarado may have him closer to the pace in this spot.
The extra ground here should suit this guy, who is by Quality Road out of a Ghostzapper mare, her first foal to race. He can turn the tables here and will end up offering more value for the top spot.
Girvin stalked the early pace, made a good move around the far turn and finished up well to take the Risen Star by two lengths in a mild upset, sent off at 8-1. He broke his maiden on dirt going six furlongs and then was second in the Gee Memorial on turf in his stakes debut. The colt has been working sharply for his return with the trainer’s wife Rosie Napravnik working this guy in the mornings.
The $130,000 purchase is a half to dirt sprint stakes winner Cocked and Loaded ($491,660). He is by Tale of Ekati out of a Malibu Moon mare and nine furlongs should be within his scope. With just three starts under his belt and one going long on dirt, this guy still may have some upside. Four of the last nine winners of the Risen Star came back to win this race including the last pair.
Local Hero opened up a big lead early in the Risen Star and weakened in the stretch to finish third, beaten 4 ¼ lengths. He broke his maiden two back in gate to wire fashion in his two-turn debut, rolling to a 7 ¼ length win. He has the two Pletcher runners that look quick enough to be an early factor as well as longshot Hotfoot who has some early zip, but the it looks as if the pace should not be too hot for him here.
He has some pedigree to handle nine furlongs, by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Liam’s Dream ($194,760) who was best sprinting on dirt but is by Saint Liam who won the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Asmussen has won this race three times including last year with Gun Runner.
WIN: Guest Suite to win at 3-1 or better.
EXACTA: 6,8 / 1,3,6,8
TRIFECTA: 6,8 / 1,3,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8
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