The Road to the Kentucky Derby goes through New Orleans on Saturday, as a field of 11 will line up in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3).
The race offers up 10 Derby points to the winner and serves as the first of three key Derby preps held at the New Orleans racetrack. Coming up is the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 21, followed by the marquee event of the meeting, the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 28.
The Neil Howard trained Eagle, who was a close up third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), is the 3-1 morning line favorite, but drew the 11 post. He was three-quarters of a length back of the winner El Kabeir, who returned to win the Jerome Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct in his next outing.
I am going with the Todd Pletcher trained Savoy Stomp, who has just three starts under his belt. The $875,000 purchase broke his maiden in his debut in impressive fashion, but caught a muddy track in the Nashua (G2) in his first go against winners where he checked in a well-beaten fifth.
His third against first level optional claimers looked better when the winner Bluegrass Springs came back to win the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Pletcher has not won the Lecomte, but is a familiar face in New Orleans. In the past five years, he has won with 14 of 35 starters, all the winners coming in stakes races.
Among those wins were victories in the Risen Star three times (Discreetly Mine in 2010, El Padrino in 2012 and Intense Holiday last year). Pletcher has also won the Louisiana Derby three times, the last time with Revolutionary in 2013.
My Best Plays for Saturday includes my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds including all of the stakes action.
Let’s head out New Orleans for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Fair Grounds Race 11 The Lecomte G3 (Post time 5:24 CT)
6 Savoy Stomp 8-1
11 Eagle 3-1
10 Another Lemon Drop 6-1
1 International Star 8-1
Analysis: Savoy Stomp ships in from Florida for the Todd Pletcher barn and bounced back with a better effort in a third place finish against Alw-1 optional claimers last out after getting outrun in the Nashua (G2) two back in his stakes debut. The winner of his last race was Bluegrass Springs. who returned to win the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 3
His Nashua poor showing could be blamed on a wet track. He comes back here with lasix added to the mix here and should be a decent price. The colt was an $875,000 purchase, by Medaglia d’Oro out of an A.P. Indy mare.
Eagle draws a tough post breaking from the far outside and going back five years horses breaking form this post at this distance have gone just 3 for 97. Last out the colt staled the early pace, came with a run but had to steady briefly while down along the inside, angled out and finished up well for third, beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot.
The winner El Beirut came back to win the Jerome (G3) in impressive fashion in his next outing. The Neil Howard trainee owns the top last out speed fig but will need to work out a trip.
Another Lemon Drop also drew a tough post just inside of our second choice. The colt beat non-winners of two optional claimers last out in the slop in a race washed off the turf rather easily. Two back in his first go against winners he ran third behind Dortmund, who returned to win the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his next outing. He has shown improvement in each of his starts and looks as if he will appreciate some extra ground.
WIN: #6 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 6,11 / 1,6,10,11
TRI: 6,11 / 1,6,10,11 / 1,2,6,10,11
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