Hanson: Fair Grounds Spot Plays for Lecomte Day Jan. 22
It will be unseasonably chilly at Fair Grounds on Saturday for Road to the Derby Day, featuring the Lecomte (G3), but forecasted sun should provide a fast track and a drying-out turf ready for a strong, stakes-laden card of 14 races.
Here are several horses of interest on the program.
Race 5 - Maiden (2:58 p.m. ET)
The form of #1 Luckman (6-1) blew hot and cold at Woodbine last fall, but he deserves a pass for being overmatched in the Summer (G1) on grass and simply failed to fire when caught behind a slow pace in his season finale. His two runner-up finishes were solid efforts, and chances are this relatively seasoned son of Empire Maker will be even better trying dirt for the first time.
Race 7 - Maiden (3:56 p.m. ET)
First-time starter #5 Non Violence has been working lights out for Bret Calhoun and should take action here, but another debut runner that entices some is #9 Mercy Warren (10-1) for Cherie DeVaux. The daughter of Run Away and Hide shows some sneaky-positive works on her tab and will be ridden by Brian Hernandez, who guided the DeVaux-trained Reagan's Decision to an 18-1 upset on debut in a similar spot Dec. 26.
Race 8 - Duncan F. Kenner S. (4:25 p.m. ET)
#2 Cowan (8-1) has never won on grass in four previous tries, but was beaten less than a length by world-beater Golden Pal in the 2020 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Keeneland, and was even thought enough of to take a swing against older rivals in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) the following March. He plied his trade at a turf-less Churchill Downs last fall, winning one and losing another by a head, and enters under the radar after a dull run at Oaklawn last time.
Race 12 - Colonel E.R. Bradley S. (6:20 p.m. ET)
Although he's endured a couple hiccups during his seven-race turf career, #3 Cavalry Charge (8-1) has consistently overachieved on the surface. A winner in three of his last four after starting his career with a prolonged drought on the main track, the son of Honor Code looks quick enough to contend in what will be his stakes debut, and has shown the ability to fire fresh.