Lecomte exotics plays and All-Stakes Late Pick 3 for Fair Grounds Jan. 21
Graded stakes heroes Instant Coffee and Two Phil’s are two of the eight three-year-olds entered in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Lecomte S. (G3) at Fair Grounds, a 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby prep that will award points on a scale of 20-8-6-4-2 to the first five finishers.
Below we offer exotics plays for the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes along with a Late Pick 3 ticket covering Races 12-14, which includes the Silverbulletday S. and Louisiana S. (G3).
- #7 Instant Coffee (5-2)
- #8 Two Phil’s (4-1)
- #4 Confidence Game (8-1)
- $10 Exacta: 7 with 8 ($10)
- $5 Trifecta: 7 with 8 with 1, 4 ($10)
- 40-cent Superfecta: 7, 8 with 7, 8 with 1, 3, 4, with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ($9.60)
Lecomte Pick 3 ticket
- $3 Late Pick 3: 5 with 2, 7 with 7, 8 ($12)
Lecomte S. (Race 14) analysis
#7 Instant Coffee opened as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Brad Cox, a 45% winner at Fair Grounds this meet, after the Bolt d'Oro son triumphed in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26 to collect 10 points on the Derby leaderboard. Prior to that start, Instant Coffee finished far back in fourth to Forte in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his only loss in three career starts. The three-year-old is the one to beat among the field of eight and flashed a 105 Late Pace figure last out to get up in the final sixteenth to win going away.
#8 Two Phil's also impressed at Churchill last out when winning the Street Sense (G3) at today's distance on sloppy ground, a track condition we could see at Fair Grounds come race time based on Saturday's weather forecast. The Larry Rivelli pupil romped to a 5 1/4-length win while recording a 93 Brisnet Speed rating — the highest last race speed rating among the field — in the Grade 3 test and posted a 96 Late Pace figure.
For the minor awards, #1 Echo Again held a lead at the second call in his last two but faded to finish seventh in the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois (G3) at Churchill and faltered to third in the Springboard Mile at Remington. The rail post will give him an advantage but distance is a concern here.
#4 Confidence Game is an intriguing longshot to play underneath. Trained by Keith Desormeaux, a 15% winner this meet, Confidence Game is coming off a half-length win at today's distance when wiring an allowance optional claimer at Churchill in which he flashed a 92 BRIS figure. He'll battle with Echo Again to set the early pace but has proven he can handle the stretch out in distance.
Silverbulletday S. (Race 12) analysis
#5 Chop Chop (8-5) disappointed when finishing last of 13 as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in November but will look to rebound while dropping in class. Two back, the City of Light filly finished a nose in second to Wonder Wheel in the Alcibiades (G1) at 1 1/16 miles while posting a 91 Brisnet Speed rating, on par with the average winning speed figure at today’s race conditions. Trainer Brad Cox is a 31% winner with beaten favorites, and the addition of Florent Geroux (a 33% winner at Fair Grounds) is a huge plus. Chop Chop is a viable single to kick off the Late Pick 3.
Louisiana S. (Race 13) analysis
Of the three Bret Calhoun runners entered in the nine-horse Louisiana (G3), #2 Run Classic is my top choice in the field. The Runhappy five-year-old was a head second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer at Churchill then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the $200,000 Tinsel S. at Oaklawn Park, pressing the pace but weakening through the stretch to finish fourth by 3 1/2 lengths. The shorter distance can trigger improvement, along with the return to Oaklawn, where Run Classic broke his maiden when racing at today’s distance back in February 2021. The dark bay is 3-1-1-0 lifetime at the track and 2-1-1-0 at today’s distance. Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. (23% winner this meet) will retain the mount.
Brad Cox will also stable a pair of noteworthy runners: #7 Forza Di Oro and #8 Zozos. Forza di Oro will make his second start with Cox after coming home third as the favorite to Happy American and Mr. Wireless in the $100,000 Tenacious S. at Fair Grounds on Dec. 26. The six-year-old led at the second call but was bested by outer foes in midstretch. He’s eligible to improve in his second start off a layoff and posted a sharp, five-furlong workout on Jan. 14. Florent Geroux will stay in the saddle and is 3-2-0-1 paired with Cox over the last 14 days. Previously trained by Bill Mott in his first eight starts, the Speightstown son won three straight from October 2020 to July 2021, including the Discovery S. (G3), and achieved a career-best 108 BRIS figure when running in the mud in a 1 1/8-mile optional claimer.
Four-year-old Zozos was named the 3-1 morning line favorite and will make his first start of his four-year-old season. The Munnings colt finished second in last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) and earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1), where he finished far back in 10th among a field of 20 after being close to the hot pace early. He was benched thereafter and made one final start in 2022 in an allowance optional claimer at Fair Grounds, where he won by 2 3/4 lengths while posting a 94 Brisnet Speed rating. He now moves back up in class and will keep Corey Lanerie in the stirrups. We'll take a stand against the Derby starter, however, and play Forza Di Oro along with Run Classic in our Pick 3 ticket.