Stakes picks and alternates on Fair Grounds' Road to the Derby Kickoff Day
A tremendous "Road to the Derby Kickoff" program is in store for bettors Saturday at Fair Grounds, which including six stakes on the 13-race program. For FREE Premium PPs for all Fair Grounds races, CLICK HERE.
We'll concede the first of the stakes, the $75,000 Duncan F. Kenner, to likely odds-on favorite Yockey's Warrior. Here are thoughts on the remaining features.
$75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial (Race 6)
Top pick: GIADA VEGAS (#9, 9-2) ran her win streak to four taking last month's $75,000 Blushing K. D. from off the pace. Clearly likes this course with two wins in three starts over it, with lone loss hampered by a lack of racing room and luck.
Don't overlook: VAGABOND PRINCESS (#10, 5-1) set the fractions in the Blushing K. D., but failed to hold despite setting a slower pace than she had winning an allowance on November 25. Perhaps not quite this caliber, but could still prove dangerous if given a lonely lead again.
$150,000 Silverbulletday (Race 7)
Top pick: HEAVENLY LOVE (#7, 3-1) looked like a star in the making with a facile victory in the Alcibiades (G1), but caved in badly in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) when among the betting choices. Giving her a shot to make amends here against stablemate WONDER GADOT.
Don't overlook: STELLAR MOON (#5, 15-1) figures to improve with experience and distance after one win in three starts sprinting. She's a daughter of Tapit and multiple Grade 1 winner Stellar Jayne
$125,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley H. (G3) (Race 8)
Top pick: SPECIAL OPS (#9, 6-1) is a dual winner over this course and has flubbed only once, to graded stakes-winning stablemate Shining Copper, since being claimed for $50,000 last June by Mike Maker. Retains Leparoux and deserving of this step back up in class.
Don't overlook: GRANNY'S KITTEN (#6, 6-1) won this race a year ago, but hasn't been out since a dull try in the Muniz Memorial (G2) in April. While layoff is a concern, it's been soggy in New Orleans all week and this horse handles wet turf very well.
$200,000 Lecomte (G3) (Race 9) For FREE Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances for the Lecomte, CLICK HERE
Top pick: Relatively untested PRINCIPE GUILHERME (#12, 5-2) has dominated his opponents so far. Doubt we'll see a margin between 6 1/4 and 11 3/4 lengths here, but potentially too quick for these.
Don't overlook: LONE SAILOR (#1, 15-1) didn't get the best of runs in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and also fell far out of it in the Breeders' Futurity (G1), in which he rallied for third. Dual stakes-placed colt has otherwise looked solid and addition of blinkers could help stay more in touch.
$75,000 Louisiana (Race 10)
Top pick: LEOFRIC (#3, 8-1) undoubtedly needed a race in last month's $73,000 Tenacious, where he finished third behind COOPTADO and SHUT THE BOX. Off eight months before that, and previously three-for-three for the hot Brad Cox barn. A much tougher field here, but should move forward second time back and still has upside.
Don't overlook: COOPTADO (#8, 8-1) showed marked improvement in upsetting the Tenacious at 17-1. A graded stakes type on the surface in Argentina and Singapore, he's reportedly kicking down the barn and wouldn't be a surprise if he repeated at a decent price.
(Heavenly Love: Coady Photography)