Louisiana Derby: Contenders & Overview of the Field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Prep Race

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Here comes Cajun Cha-Ching.

Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana pays more purse money than any track in the United States on Saturday, $3,125,000, for a blockbuster series of Kentucky Derby preps and 4-year-old encores.

Not only does it showcase the $1 million Louisiana Derby, which will send the winner and probably the second-place finisher to the May 6 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

But names familiar to horse-racing bettors mark the supporting cast.

A four-race, late-afternoon package contains $2.2 million of the big purse payout.

It runs at post times spanning 5:04 p.m. to 6:42 p.m. ET and is a great succession of betting races.

Gamblers can access the entire package, along with the strong all-day card of races throughout the country, via FanDuel TV.

2023 Louisiana Derby Field

Here is the field for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby.

PPHorseML OddsJockey Trainer
1Shopper's Revenge12-1Ricardo SantanaSteve Asmussen
2Instant Coffee2-1Luis SaezBrad Cox
3Curly Jack12-1Edgar MoralesTom Amoss
4Sun Thunder5-1Brian Hernandez, JrKen McPeek
5Disarm10-1Joel RosarioSteve Asmussen
6Kingsbarns6-1Flavien PratTodd Pletcher
7Cagliostro12-1Cristian TorresCherie DeVaux
8Single Ruler15-1David CohenKeith Desormeaux
9Tapit's Conquest10-1Manny FrancoBrad Cox
10Denington12-1Junior AlvaradoKen McPeek
11Jace's Road20-1Florent GerouxBrad Cox
12Baseline Beater20-1Corey LanerieNeil Pessin

Saturday’s Fair Grounds Racing Schedule

Here is the late afternoon Grand Slam, in order:

  • $500,000 New Orleans Classic, 1 1-8 miles, dirt
  • $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic, 1 1-8 miles, turf
  • $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for filles, 1 1-16 miles, dirt
  • $1 million Louisiana Derby, 1 3-16 miles, dirt, serving as a Kentucky Derby prep

New Orleans Classic Contenders

Look who shows up but none other than Art Collector, who scored a nice upset victory at 15-1 in the $3 million Pegasus at Gulfstream Park in January. On Wednesday, he was installed as the 8-5 morning-line chalk.

Art Collector has won 6-of-8, including the Pegasus and two victories in the Charles Town Classic. He is six years old and aging like fine wine. Bettors will love seeing this showcase for older horses hitting a late-stage prime.

West Will Power (2-1) will be another major contender, graduating from second in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap on the same track. He was compromised by a speed duel and faltered around the far turn. He will run strongly again, but the question is how relaxed he can be.

Rattle N Roll had two nice wins in the fall, including the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby. He’s been off since November after a strong 2022.

Pioneer of Medina was 19th in the Kentucky Derby last year. Yes, he was next to last, but at least he was in the big race. He won the Mineshaft Stakes last month, which indicates good fitness.

Mr. Wireless finished second to him in that race.

Happy American was 8th in that event after capturing a stakes race at Fairgrounds one race earlier. He will have his hands full here.

Treasury has not been able to thrive beyond allowance company but has run well at the host track. He’s been getting narrowly beaten by Zozos, who ran 10th in the Kentucky Derby in 2021.

New Orleans Classic Betting Overview

Art Collector and West Will Power make all the sense to finish in the top 3. Watching the board can help you determine what the exacta payout will be — if that’s how you want to go.

Gamblers may consider putting them each in a $1 trifecta box (cost $6) and hope that a price horse can either beat them or split them by finishing second to enhance the payouts. Based on early prices, you can wager one and maybe two of these boxes and make a small profit.

If you think either of the contenders can finish off the board, taking the other one in a trifecta key with some longshots is another consideration.

Muniz Classic Contenders

Atone (5-2) will be heavily bet off a sweet rallying victory in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational turf at Gulfstream in January. If he’s ready, he’s the best in this field of 10.

Two Emmys, Spooky Channel, Gentle Soul, English Tavern, and Another Mystery have taken turns beating each other at varied tracks and distances over the past several months.

They are all, in theory, right there. Some from this group are going to hit the board.

Muniz Classic Betting Overview

Get a price. Very little separates the horses in this group. Some will rise and decline slightly off past performances.

One of your favorites in an exacta box with Atone is not a bad way to go either for a side bet.

Fair Grounds Oaks Contenders

Think a five-horse field can’t create drama?

This one can. It even involves a trilogy.

Hoosier Philly, who stumbled at the start of the Rachel Alexandra and finished third to Pretty Mischievous, gets another crack at it here. The horses are 1-1 versus each other in their young careers. That was Hoosier Philly’s first loss.

Pretty Mischievous ran a good race in evening the score with Hoosier Philly.

The Alys Look finished second to Hoosier Philly in the Untapable and tries to make a difference at the longer distance of 1 1-6 miles.

All three of these range between 8-5 and 2-1 on the morning line. 

Southlawn seized a Fair Grounds win at allowance optional claiming at this distance and now moves up. 1:45.16.

Christian d’Oro has the task of shipping from Sunland, going up in class and stretching to 1 1-16 miles. Tough ask.

Fair Grounds Betting Overview

There’s not much money, so a win slam is probably all you have. Favorites all make sense. 

The good news is that there are not too many variables. The flip side is that bettors must be precise.

Louisiana Derby: Contenders & Overview of the Field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Prep Race
Jockey Luis Saez (here aboard Wajaab) rides Instant Coffee in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. (AP Photo/Martin Dokoupil)

How the Louisiana Derby Stacks Up

Since 2016, the eventual winner has always been amongst the top 4 after half a mile. That could cause a dilemma — and a betting wrinkle — here because the top horses in this race are closers. That includes favored Instant Coffee, Sun Thunder, and Tapit’s Conquest.

Jockeys may have to use the contenders more than they would like early in the race. Positioning is paramount.

Horses that figure to break near the lead include Kingsbarns and Jace’s Road.

From a recent form perspective, it is Instant Coffee’s race to lose. He has two nice recent victories, including the Lecomte at 1 1-6 miles. But even the favorite has variables because the size of the field has doubled from six in that race to 12.

Sun Thunder has the best performance in the richest prep, finishing second in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. The pedigree of his opposition, combined with a mile stretch from 1 1-8 to 1 3-16 miles, guarantees his share of betting money.

Kingsbarns is 2-for-2 and has the look of a special horse, albeit at lower company.

Disarm has a nice victory over Rocket Can, who later won the Holy Bull and finished second in the Fountain of Youth. But Disarm’s big moment came in August. Those who fade him will believe he’s not ready to run a big one yet.

That’s only part of the field in this great race.

Louisiana Derby Betting Observations

Sprinkle several mid-to-high priced entries into your exotics tickets. The win bet also should be excellent value because of the immense betting. It can be easy to be distracted with exotics because of large pools all day that will spike prices. That’s fine, but win bets are important and place prices often pay better than expected on days like this.

Also read: What is the Triple Crown of horse racing?

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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Writer
Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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