How to bet the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
The $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) headlines Saturday's monster card at Fair Grounds. The 1 1/8-mile event for three-year-olds attracted a field of 10 and is the first of seven Triple Crown prep races that rewards the victor with 100 qualifying points on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" leaderboard.
Southwest (G3) winner #9 My Boy Jack leads the field for the 105th running of Fair Grounds' premier event. The 5-2-morning line favorite comes into Saturday off of his first win over the main track and once again appears to have a favorable race shape to set up his late run.
The son of Creative Cause raced over the lawn through all but one of his first seven races, but trainer Keith Desormeaux always believed that his colt could run on dirt as well. He backed up his conditioner in a big way last month in Arkansas and he looks to stamp his ticket to Louisville on Saturday afternoon.
My Boy Jack may be the likeliest winner given what appears to be a lot of early speed types signed on, but that does not necessarily make him an attractive wagering option at his price. He had everything go his way over an off going in the Southwest, but I am not sure it is fair to assume he will replicate that perfect trip effort over a new surface. He is one of two I will use on top in vertical wagers, but I would demand at least 3-1 in the Win pool.
The top three finishers from the Risen Star (G2) also return in the Louisiana Derby. #1 Bravazo and #7 Snapper Sinclair battled to the wire last month with the Calumet Farm colt getting the best of it in the final strides.
Bravazo already has earned enough qualifying points to make the "Run for the Roses" and he finds himself drawn on the rail, which could put jockey Gary Stevens in a precarious position early on. If the Hall of Fame rider can work out a trip from just off the pace he could make it three in a row, but I am concerned about him taking a step backwards after back-to-back career-best BRIS speed ratings.
Snapper Sinclair has earned both of his victories over the turf, but has shown a lot of grit in his two Triple Crown prep races. The Bloom Racing Stable colt will get a rider upgrade to Eclipse Award winner Jose Ortiz and has a chance to be "in the mix" late, but the mile and an eighth and contention on the front end concern me.
#2 Noble Indy finished third in the Risen Star, but he had a much less favorable voyage than Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair. The WinStar Farm homebred got a lot out of his effort last time out and should be set for a career best performance on Saturday. With the addition of blinkers and the presence of John Velazquez this son of Take Charge Indy is a major contender in the 2018 Louisiana Derby.
Outside of the top four choices on the morning line, there are a couple of other runners that could be sitting on a big one.
# 6 Hyndford was no match for Rebel (G2) winner Magnum Moon at Tampa Bay Downs last month, but the son of Street Cry appears to be a horse moving in the right direction based on increasing BRIS speed ratings over his first three starts. The Donegal Racing runner may not be good enough to win the Louisiana Derby, but he is an intriguing option underneath.
#8 Lone Sailor has not won since a maiden victory sprinting in the slop at Saratoga last summer, but he ran against the flow in his last race versus #10 Dark Templar and still finished a solid second. He will need to move forward quite a bit to contend on Saturday, but that seems possible with Tom Amoss handling training duties.
Here is how I will wager on the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby:
$4 Exacta Wheel
2+9 with 6+8 = $16
$1 Trifecta Wheel
2+9 with 6+8 with 1+2+4+6+7+8+9 = $20
$1 Trifecta Wheel
2+9 with 1+2+4+6+7+8+9 with 6+8 = $20
Total Budget: $56