The road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off in 2018 in earnest with three points races over the next couple of days.
Saturday’s $200,000 LeComte (G3) at Fair Grounds and the $150,000 Jerome at Aqueduct along with Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones offer up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1).
The LeComte will feature a large field of 13 going to the post in the first of three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races held at Fair Grounds.
A field of 15 entered but Ciaran will scratch, and Wonder Godot is more likely to go in the Silverbulletday earlier on the card.
The buzz colt is the Steve Asmussen trained Principe Guilherme, who won his first two career starts by a combined 18 lengths. Flavien Geroux gets the return call on the $600,000 son of Tapit, breaking from the 12 post.
The Jerry Hollendorfer trained Instilled Regard is the second choice on the morning line at 4-1. The colt ran third and was placed second via a disqualification in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his last outing on Dec. 9.
For the latest Kentucky Derby future odds go to US Racing.
I am looking for more of a price with Kowboy Karma (6-1) who stretches back out to a route after a runner up finish at Laurel Park in the six-furlong J.F. Lewis.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine 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 9 The LeComte G3 (Post time 5:03 CT)
#5 Kowboy Karma 6-1
#10 Instilled Regard 4-1
#12 Principe Guilherme 5-2
#13 Prince Lucky 8-1
Analysis: Kowboy Karma returns off a two month break after rallying to finish in the runner up spot in the JF Lewis at Laurel Park going six furlongs. He was fourth in the Champagne (G1) two back where he made a mild late run. The runner up Good Magic came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and the third-place finisher Enticed came back to win the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his next outing on Nov. 25. Three back in his first route he ran a good second in the Sapling behind Bal Harbour, who came back to win the Smooth Air and was one of four to exit that race with a win next out. Jones has won this race three times, most recently with Mr Bowling in 2012. The stretch out will suit this guy and we should catch a fair price.
Instilled Regard was a smart maiden winner at Santa Anita two back and last out was a close up third in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and placed second thanks to a DQ. McKinzie was elevated to the win and then came back to win the Sham (G3) in his next outing on Jan. 6. The Hollendorfer trainee was a $1,050,000 Ocala purchase last March. Castellano takes the call and this guy fits well here if he runs back to his last outing.
Principe Guilherme makes his stakes debut here after trouncing maidens and Alw-1 foes in his first two starts by a combined 18 lengths. The colt took the field gate to wire over the main track here last out in a good looking effort. The $600,000 purchase is by Tapit out of the stakes winner Aubby K ($435,004), her first foal to race. The colt appears to have some serious potential but draws a bum post and may end up a light price.
WIN: #5 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 5,10 / 5,10,12,13
TRI: 5,10 / 5,10,12,13 / 5,8,10,12,13
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