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Even though the Kentucky Derby (G1) has been delayed to Saturday, September 5, the preps still continue this weekend in New Orleans. The Crescent City’s biggest race of the year is set with the 107th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. A full field of 14 promising 3-year-olds will do battle in this contest, including the LeComte Stakes (G3) winner Enforceable and the second-division Risen Star Stakes (G2) winner Modernist. The Louisiana Derby is carded as the last of 12 races on Saturday, with a post time of 4:49 p.m. CT.
In many ways, this race will still be a proving ground for Modernist, who upset the Risen Star at odds of 12/1. The Bill Mott trainee broke his maiden by 4 lengths at Aqueduct on January 25 before shipping to Fair Grounds for his Risen Star Triumph. Junior Alvarado will have the mount once again, though the colt is now breaking from the far outside 14 post after drawing the rail last time.
The Mark Casse-trained Enforceable has been the most consistent runner at Fair Grounds during the prep season. Two races back, he took home the Lecomte Stakes (G3) in impressive fashion, then had another nice effort while finishing second in Division 1 of the Risen Star Stakes (G2). Julien Leparoux will be aboard for the third straight time when he breaks from post 10.
Another ultra-consistent horse in this race is Silver State, who finished second in the Lecomte and third in Division 1 of the Risen Star. The Steve Asmussen trainee has finished on the board in all four career races. He drew a tough post here (13), so Ricardo Santana, Jr., will have to work out a trip.
The full field from the rail out: Major Fed, Mailman Money, Wells Bayou, Chestertown, Social Afleet, Shake Some Action, Sharecropper, Royal Act, Portos, Enforceable, Ny Traffic, Lynn’s Map, Silver State, Modernist, Mr. Big News, and Farmington Road.
#3 Wells Bayou – We’ll take a shot with Wells Bayou in this spot. He showed up with a solid second last time out in the Southwest Stakes (G3). His early speed will be dangerous on this track and he could improve even further in his second start against stakes company. The jockey/trainer combination of Florent Geroux and Brad Cox is always tough to beat, no matter the track or race. This horse could be improving at the right time and should the one who they’ll have to catch as they turn for home.
#10 Enforceable – This horse has been really solid this year at Fair Grounds, finishing first in the Lecomte and second in Division One of the Risen Star last time out. There is no reason to think that he won’t show up with a solid effort again in this spot, and there is plenty of pace for him to pass as he makes a big run over this long stretch. With a clean trip, he’ll be tough to hold off, but it’s hard to play a favorite like him on top in a 14-horse field.
#13 Silver State – He’s been our top pick for the last two races here, so now that we’ve gone away from him, he’ll probably win. He had some traffic trouble in the Lecomte, but he didn’t have much of an excuse last time out when finishing third in Division 1 of the Risen Star. This horse is very talented, which will always give him a shot, but you have to wonder if he’s just a small cut below the top horses in the class. This post position also does him no favors.
#9 Portos – The Fair Grounds track configuration should suit Portos beautifully and this distance is exactly what he needs. This colt is devoid of early speed, which will always put him at a disadvantage, but he has a solid closing kick. There should be plenty of pace for him to overcome in the long stretch.
#14 Modernist – Mott trained last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and has another hopeful in this colt, who won Division 2 of the Risen Star. This colt does seem have a lot of improving to do, though, before he can be considered a Derby threat. He’s won two straight coming into this event, his Risen Star speed figure came back a bit on the slower side. Still, he’s facing a very similar field to what he defeated last time out.
#8 Royal Act – Last time out, this colt was a close second behind Thousand Words in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2). At the time, that loss looked pretty good, but then Thousand Words ran poorly last time out in the San Felipe Stakes (G2). Still, Royal Act does come into this race with a little bit of hype, and he could improve with this being his second start on dirt.
#1 Major Fed – He ran well in his stakes debut last time out, finishing second in Division 2 of the Risen Star at 9/1. However, the second division of that race didn’t seem nearly as strong as the first, so he still has some proving to do. This horse seems like a grinder who could hang around for a piece of things, though he may not have the talent level to actually win the whole thing.
#11 Ny Traffic – Since moving over to the barn of Saffie Joseph, Jr., this horse has been solid, winning an allowance at Gulfstream Park before running third in Division 2 of the Risen Star. This longer distance seems like something he can handle pedigree-wise, although it would be nice to see him rate off of the early speed a bit in this spot. He should be a player once again here.
#4 Chestertown – If you spend $2 million on a colt, then you want to give him every chance to run in big stakes events. This horse has disappointed his connections so far, but he should have won an allowance race over this track. He was definitely the best horse in the race, but traffic trouble caused him to just miss. This distance should be to his liking and a little bit of improvement could make him a player at a decent price.
#2 Mailman Money – He is worthy of some consideration after a fourth-place effort in his stakes debut last time out. However, his pedigree might be a little iffy for this distance. He does have talent, though, so if you want to play someone from this group, then he is the one.
#6 Shake Some Action – This colt has won two in a row coming into this spot, including a tough allowance race last time out, but there is still some improvement that needs to be shown if he is going to compete with a tougher group of horses.
#12 Lynn’s Map – It’s hard to figure out why this horse regressed after winning a solid allowance race to kick off his meet at Fair Grounds. He beat Mr. Monomoy in that spot, who later won Division 1 of the Risen Star. We know that the talent is there, but he’s really struggled in both of his starts since that victory.
#7 Sharecropper – He’ll make his second start off of the layoff, so he could show some improvement. He’ll definitely need to do so in order to have a shot after a fourth-place allowance effort last time out.
#5 Social Afleet – He’s won two of his last three, including a wire-to-wire victory against allowance foes last time out. His speed figures leave a lot to be desired, though, which makes him an outsider against this group.
#15 Mr. Big News – As of now, he’s on the outside looking in, needing one scratch to draw into the starting gate. If he does draw in, he’ll need to improve off of his 5th place finish in Division 2 of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) last time out.
#16 Farmington Road – Trainer Todd Pletcher announced that he is sending this colt to New York for the Wood Memorial (G2). Previously, he closed well to finish fourth in Division 1 of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) last time out.
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