Horses to Watch on Louisiana Derby Day

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 19th, 2021

A blockbuster 14-race card awaits horseplayers on Saturday when Fair Grounds hosts Louisiana Derby Day. There is no rain in the forecast, so fast and firm conditions should prevail.

While the feature appears in our estimation a showdown between the top two morning line choices, #6 Mandaloun and #4 Proxy, there are some other horses to watch on the undercard, including a couple first-time maidens.

Race 2 -- Maiden (12:48 p.m. ET)

#1 ROAD BIBLE (3-1), who has turned in a couple unconventionally fast works for a barn that typically doesn't ask for speed in the mornings, looks potentially live first out. By Pioneerof the Nile, he's the first foal out of the multiple stakes winner Wonder Gal, who won at first asking by more than 14 lengths in a New York-bred stakes. She later placed several times in Grade 1 company, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Post 1 and winning first off the bat at 1 1/16 miles are things this $610,000 yearling purchase will have to overcome, but none of the previous starters appears a standout on paper.

Race 7 -- Maiden (3:12 p.m. ET)

Not only is first-time starter #9 PLAYED HARD (4-1) by the amazing Into Mischief (a 16% debut sire), but his dam is a full sister to Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Well Armed. Graded stakes winners American Patriot, Mr. Money, and Witty also hail from this female family.

Although the Bauer barn has struggled a bit this meet, they've done rather well with first-time starters of late, including a couple initial strikers among their juveniles at Churchill Downs meet last fall. Morning works suggest this three-year-old colt has some speed and is well meant.

Race 10 -- Tom Benson Memorial (4:42 p.m. ET)

If you believe morning line choice #4 Dalika is vulnerable, as we do, than this race looks pretty wide open. The lightly-raced #12 CATCH A BID (5-1) has some positive, older form lines that involve Dalika and #6 Temple City Terror, and she certainly could have been in need of a race when a fading fourth in the Jan. 31 Jersey Lily S. at Sam Houston, her first start late August and also for trainer Joe Sharp. She's far from being a need-the-lead type, and might have just been a touch fresh when dueling most of the way in that Texas race.

Race 13 -- Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) (6:14 p.m. ET)

Not a whole lot has separated #6 Clairiere and #8 TRAVEL COLUMN (5-2) after two meetings, and perhaps the latter will offer the more attractive odds here after getting pounded down to even-money in last month's Rachel Alexandra (G2). Travel Column inherited the lead approaching the quarter pole and was not seriously asked to respond to Clairiere's bid at the sixteenth pole until it was too late. The filly that has produced the best late kick has come out on top so far in this series, and guessing connections of both will be mindful of that in this rubber match of Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospects.