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2022 Lecomte Stakes Replay And Recap | Call Me Midnight Upsets Derby Prep
Credit: Hodges Photography

2022 Lecomte Stakes Replay And Recap | Call Me Midnight Upsets Derby Prep

Magic and Aaron recap Call Me Midnight upsetting Epicenter and Pappacap in Saturday’s Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, then discuss who they likes moving forward, including any potential longshots. This Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race is worth 10 points to the winner, 4 to second, 2 to third, and 1 to fourth.

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The track press release:

All trainer Keith Desormeaux was hoping entering Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots was that Peter Cantrell’s Call Me Midnight would prove him right, that he was wrong.

“(After his maiden win) I wrongly convinced myself to run him back quickly in Louisville (the Kentucky Jockey Club),” Desormeaux said of his seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). “I wanted to get another start over the track, but it (the plan) was ill conceived. We had plenty of time between that race and today. What gives you confidence is the horse’s confidence. He was exuding that today.”

Settled eighth of nine early under jockey James Graham in the 1 1/16ths mile event, the 28.50-1 longshot Call Me Midnight chased fast fractions of 23.40 and 47.01 set by Gun Runner winner Epicenter, the 1.60-1 second choice. Gaining momentum on the backstretch, he swung six-wide on the turn and sustained his bid to the wire, catching the pacesetter in the final stride to win by a head in 1:44.36, earning ten Kentucky Derby points in the process. It was another ¾ of a length back to the 1.50-1 favorite Pappacap in third.

“They went quick early,” Graham said. “He settled real nice. Halfway down the backside I said, man I’m going to get a piece of this. He was getting to them (the leaders) easy without me having to ask him. Halfway around the second turn I said, well, I just need a spot to go. I wheeled him out down the stretch, gave him all the daylight, and he flew home like he did at Churchill when he broke his maiden. He did it the right way and finished it off perfect.”

Desormeaux and Graham are no strangers to pulling off big upsets in Louisiana Derby (G2) prep races, having teamed up to win the 2012 Risen Star (G2) at 135-1 with Ive Struck a Nerve. 

Even though the early fractions were taxing, Winchell Thoroughbreds Epicenter, who dominated the inaugural Gun Runner Stakes on December 26 at Fair Grounds was valiant in defeat for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“He tried really hard,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “He’s a very big horse, very straightforward, everything he does. I know we got beat but he still ran a nice race.”

The most accomplished horse in the field with a grade two win a pair of grade one placings under his belt, Rustlewood Farm’s Pappacap enjoyed a dream run from an inside stalking position. He engaged Epicenter at the quarter-pole and battled him into the deep stretch, only to be turned away in the final sixteenth.

“He fought all the way down the lane,” jockey Joe Bravo said of the Mark Casse trainee. “Both (he and Epicenter) are special horses. They got into a fight and guess what happens, it set up for somebody else to run by both of us.”

That “somebody” was Call Me Midnight, who boosted his career earnings to $221,806 while winning for just the second time in his career (7-2-1-0). He also banked ten Kentucky Derby points.  After earning 4 and 2 points respectively, Epicenter and Pappacap are tied atop the leaderboard with 14 apiece. Trafalgar earned one point for his fourth place Lecomte finish.

Next up in the Fair Grounds series of 3-year-old series is the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) on February 19.

“I can’t see why not,” Desormeux said when asked about Call Me Midnight’s potential participation. “Hell, it’s a month away. That’s an eternity the way I run ‘em, but yes, absolutely.”