How to Bet the Hagyard Fayette Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 25th, 2018

When seven accomplished runners line up to contest the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (gr. II) on Saturday at Keeneland, the feature race on the last day of the meet, most eyes will be focused on the lone three-year-old in the field, #6 Hofburg.

That’s certainly understandable, since the Bill Mott-trained son of Tapit has compiled a promising record this year, most notably finishing second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). During the summer, he won Saratoga’s restricted Curlin Stakes by five lengths, and he’s posted triple-digit BRIS speed figures in four of his last five starts.

However, the Fayette Stakes will mark Hofburg’s debut against older horses, and the fact remains that he’s yet to win a graded stakes race even while facing his own age group. Furthermore, I was a bit disappointed in Hofburg’s most recent effort, a distant fourth-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. I) at Parx Racing. He never really threatened at all that day, and when you consider that he beat a field of questionable quality in the Curlin, I think you can make a case that Hofburg will be over bet while facing older rivals in a race that doesn’t contain much early speed to set up his late rally.

For those reasons, I’m drawn to the chances of #5 Leofric. Trained by Brad Cox, the son of Candy Ride hasn’t finished out of the trifecta in nine starts over the last two years, and that includes a gutsy third-place finish in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) last month at Saratoga, in which he battled the lead and was beaten just two lengths by the talented pair of Yoshida and Gunnevera.

Previously, Leofric had utilized his early speed to win the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer with a 103 BRIS speed figure. He shouldn’t face much pace pressure in the Fayette Stakes—#1 Prime Attraction, shipping in from California, figures to be the only one to give him a tussle for early command—and since Leofric is drawn outside of Prime Attraction, I envision him working out a perfect trip setting or stalking the pace before kicking on in the homestretch to prevail.

Prime Attraction should be set for a similarly ideal trip under jockey Kent Desormeaux, and while his most recent effort was a little dull—a fourth-place finish in the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita—he was facing top-class competition that included the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) contenders Accelerate and West Coast, and last November he fired off a 112 BRIS speed figure while winning the Native Diver Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar with a pace-pressing trip. The drop in class for the Fayette could be all he needs to challenge for victory.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$6 exacta: 1,5 with 1,5 ($12) $1.5 trifecta: 1,5 with 1,2,5,6 with 1,2,5,6 ($18)

Good luck!