The Fair Grounds Road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off this Saturday evening with a loaded field of 14 for the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3). Last year, the race was won by War of Will, who later took home the Preakness Stakes (G1). This year’s event is scheduled for race 13 on a loaded Saturday card that also features four other stakes events. Local post time for the Lecomte is 5:55 PM CT.
The two most established horses in the race are Scabbard and Finnick the Fierce; however, neither has found the winner’s circle since last June. Scabbard comes into the race off of three solid efforts, including runner-up finishes in the Saratoga Special (G2) and Iroquois Stakes (G3), before a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). As for Finnick the Fierce, he seemingly came out of nowhere in his last start, finishing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at long odds of 87/1. He’ll break from the rail, while Scabbard will break from post 4.
Local powerhouse trainer Steve Asmussen will send three into this race, including Coronation Futurity winner Halo Again, who moves back to the dirt after winning on Woodbine’s synthetic surface. Also leading the charge is the highly-regarded Silver State, who enters off of a close runner-up finish against allowance company at Churchill Downs. The Asmussen entry with local experience is Excession, who finished third in an allowance event last time out over this track. Excession drew post 5 for the event, Halo Again post 7, and Silver State post 9.
Two years ago, the powerful Monomoy Girl kicked off her 3-Year-Old Filly of the Year campaign in New Orleans. This year, her younger half-brother, Mr. Monomoy, will try to follow in her footsteps. After breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs two starts back, the colt was second last time out in a tough allowance event. Mr. Monomoy drew post 2 here.
The winner of that allowance race, Lynn’s Map, also looks to have a bright future ahead of him. He drew the far outside post of 14 for this event, which will be a challenge that he may not have to face: trainer Mark Casse recently said that Lynn’s Map will also enter the Smarty Jones Stakes (which runs on January 24 at Oaklawn Park). Once that race is drawn on Friday, Casse will decide in which race he will remain entered. Pay attention to this race when it comes to making a bet on the Kentucky Derby 2020.
The full field from the rail out: Finnick the Fierce, Mr. Monomoy, Perfect Star, Scabbard, Excession, New Eagle, Halo Again, Jack the Umpire, Silver State, Enforceable, Bango, Shashashakemeup, Sycamore Run, and Lynn’s Map.
#9 Silver State – It feels like we haven’t seen the best from this horse yet, and the light bulb might come on at the right time. He was impressive on debut (dead-heating for a win at Churchill Downs) before just missing by a nose in his next start against allowance company over the same track. Despite unclean trips, he still showed solid acceleration down the lane in both starts. Two recent impressive local workouts plus stretching out in distance for the first time could equal it all coming together for him at the right moment.
Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers
#4 Scabbard – He is the classiest horse in the field by a decent margin, but he has not won since June 28. Can he actually finish the job and pick up a win as he drops down in class? He did not disgrace himself in his last three starts, all against some of the country’s best 2-year-olds. He will be a fantastic measuring stick for the other horses in this spot. His fellow Breeders Cup Juvenile (G1) competitors have been running strong so far in their next starts.
#14 Lynn’s Map – He appers ready for stakes competition after winning two tough races in a row. Two starts back, he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in impressive fashion. That led to an allowance event at Fair Grounds where, after a determined late rally, he edged clear of the pace-setting Mr. Monomoy to win by a head. The big negative is the post position, though, as he drew the widest of all. We won’t know until at least Friday whether or not he will stay and run here, or if he will skip it in favor of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park next week.
#13 Sycamore Run – It seems like this horse is flying under the radar, which could be a good thing for those who like him in this spot. His only start to date was an ultra-impressive maiden special weight victory by 3 1/2 lengths while going 6 furlongs over this track. He must stretch out in distance for this race, but his pedigree (by Street Sense) suggests that he’ll be able to handle it. Look for him to use his early speed right out of the gate from the 13 post so that he can get over and save all the ground. If he works out a trip, then he’ll be dangerous.
#10 Enforceable – This colt bring plenty of experience into the race, having faced some heavy hitters in his last two starts. He was a Saratoga maiden special weight winner three starts back, then finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland behind the highly-regarded Maxfield. Last time out, he was fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), making continual progress down the lane after steadying at the top of the stretch. He looks like the type that will always be around, ready to make a run.
#1 Finnick the Fierce – Even though he finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in his last start, the jury is still out on him. He was 87/1 that day, so not many people that saw that performance coming. Before that race, his two starts didn’t show a whole lot, which makes this spot his proving ground. He’s logical to play underneath, but it might be smart to take a wait-and-see approach with him on top.
#2 Mr. Monomoy – We’ll see if this half-brother of Monomoy Girl can live up to his pedigree. He was a dazzling winner two races back against maiden special weight company at Churchill Downs. However, he couldn’t finish the job last time out, losing to Lynn’s Map by a head in a tough allowance race. He’ll always garner attention because of his pedigree, but he still has a lot of proving to do on the track.
#12 Shashashakemeup – Look for this horse to give a much better showing of himself after a disappointing effort last time out in the Sugar Bowl Stakes. The stretch out in distance will likely be a big help, and he also got off to a poor start in that last effort. Trainer Keith Desormeaux is fantastic at pulling off upsets along the Kentucky Derby Trail. There is a lot more upside with this entry than what the past performances say.
#7 Halo Again – It’s almost impossible to throw out an undefeated Steve Asmussen runner. He’ll have to improve on the speed figure scale, but he has a lot of class. Last time out, he won the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine against fellow Canadian-breds. Before that, he was a Churchill Downs maiden special weight winner on debut. Wait for decent odds before playing him, but that could happen, considering there are so many betting options in this race.
#5 Excession – He exits a strong allowance race over this track last time out, where he was third to Lynn’s Map and Mr. Monomoy. The effort was solid, but the competition gets tougher here. It’s hard to see him turning the tables on this group.
#8 Jack the Umpire – He has won three of four starts coming into this contest, all of which came at smaller tracks. In his last start, the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs, he got out to an easy early lead that allowed him to cruise home for a 2 3/4-length victory. Don’t expect him to get that trip again here, which makes this a much more difficult challenge.
#6 New Eagle – One of the expected pacesetters, he got out to a nice early lead in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) before fading to fifth down the lane. Several speed horses seem signed on for this event, so he faces a very tough task here.
#11 Bango – This colt is on the improve coming into the race, which is always dangerous this time of year. It’s just hard to see him making enough of a jump to make an impact in this deep field. He also looks to be up against it from a pace standpoint.
#3 Perfect Star – It seems like the turf is where this colt prefers to run, having won two of his last three on the lawn. His only dirt race did not go well at all, which doesn’t make him appealing in this wide-open race.