The Michael Stidham trained Proxy looks to turn the tables on Mandaloun when they meet up again on Saturday in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Six that ran in the Risen Star are back for the marquee event of the meeting including the winner Mandaloun, who drew clear to win by 1 ¼ lengths and return $6.20 for the victory. Proxy had to settle for the runner up spot.
The third and fourth place finishers Midnight Bourbon and O Besos are back as well as the sixth-place finisher Rightandjust and ninth place finisher Starrininmydreams.
The race is the first Road to the Kentucky Derby points race to offer up 100-40-20-10 points, assuring the winner earning a starting spot in the gate for the first jewel of the Triple Crown on May 1.
The Brad Cox trained Mandaloun was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. The colt has won three of his four career starts, the lone loss coming in his third-place finish in the Lecomte (G3) in his stakes debut in January.
“The goal is to get the job done on Saturday,” Cox said. “He’s going to have six weeks to recover, if he runs the way we hope he should, to point to the Kentucky Derby. There will be a period there where he can recover then hopefully, we can start cranking him up towards the end of April for the first Saturday in May.”
2021 Risen Star Replay
The colt already has 52 Derby points which should be enough to earn a start in the Kentucky Debry. The colt is currently listed at 16-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at BUSR.
Hot Rod Charlie is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1. The colt was third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita in his three-year-old debut. He is trained by Doug O’Neill who is currently on a 10-day suspension for a drug overage from last October. He will run under the name of his longtime assistant trainer Leandro Mora.
The Stidham trained Proxy will be adding blinkers after his runner up finish in the Risen Star and may appreciate the added ground as well as the new equipment.
“There were just a number of reasons why the blinkers were added,” Stidham said. “If you look at all of his races here at the Fair Grounds, in every race you can kind of see him doing a little erratic stuff, whether it be shying away, drifting out, or losing focus like he did in the Risen Star. You can’t win Kentucky Derbies or Louisiana Derbies by doing that.”
There are eight stakes on an outstanding 14-race card on Saturday at Fair Grounds. The co-feature is the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) which drew a field of eight and serves as a Road to the Kentucky Oaks points race.
My Best Plays for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Fair Grounds and Aqueduct.
Let’s head out to Fair Grounds for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Fair Grounds Race 14 The Louisiana Derby G2 5:44 CT
4 Proxy 7-2
6 Mandaloun 8-5
5 Hot Rod Charlie 3-1
7 Midnight Bourbon 5-1
This colt is one of six in here that exit the Risen Star (G2). The Stidham trainee was bumped coming out of the gate, tracked the early pace, was three wide around the far turn, came five wide into the stretch and finished up well while drifting out, beaten 1 ¼ length by Mandaloun. Two back the colt chased Midnight Bourbon who was able to take the field gate to wire to win the Lecomte (G3). The colt has not been off cleanly in his last three starts and the addition of blinkers could help that and assist in him staying a straighter course in the stretch. He looks capable of turning the tables and can handle the extra ground. He is by Tapit out of the stakes winner Panty Raid ($1 million) who was a Grade 1 winner on turf at 1 ¼ miles.
The beaten chalk in the Lecomte where he had to settle for third, he added blinkers last out and turned the tables on Proxy and Midnight Bourbon winning the Risen Star with a career top speed fig. It was one of the most impressive outings we have seen on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The colt has worked sharply since his last outing with three works over the main track here. This guy also should not have an issue with the added ground. He is by Into Mischief out of the stakes winner Brooch who was a Group 2 winner in Ireland. He draws a better post today and should get a similar tracking trip. The main knock is going to be the light price.
Hot Rod Charlie
The colt is the lone runner in this race that did not make his last start over the main track here. The colt races under the name of assistant trainer Leandro Mora as Doug O’Neill was slapped with a 10-day suspension due to a drug positive from last October. The colt was a solid second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall at 94-1. He showed that effort was not a fluke with a game third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita, beaten a neck and a nose. The winner Medina Spirit came back to run second in the San Felipe (G2) and the fourth-place finisher Spielberg came back to runs second in the Southwest (G2) at Oaklawn Park. The locals seem to have an edge in this race over the years, but this guy looks as if he still may have some upside and has the look of a colt that may appreciate the long stretch here.