Six weeks remain to study Kentucky Derby, start with Louisiana Derby

Mar 20, 2018 3:00 AM

The 2018 Kentucky Derby is six weeks away. It’s been a fun prep season with quite a few interesting runners emerging. There have been some excellent performances and a few races won by horses that were difficult to find. All in all it is shaping up as an evenly matched Derby with a myriad of serious win candidates.

This coming Saturday is the $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. This is the richest prep race so far this season and is very deep top to bottom. Almost all of those entered in this race have a chance to win. Here is a quick glance from the rail out.

BRAVAZO: Upset winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star at 21-1 over some of the runners in this race. He is now 2 for 2 in 2018 and the D. Wayne Lukas colt reunites with Gary Stevens. He was Grade 1 placed as a two-year-old and comes into this with a very sharp worktab. Obvious contender and might end up favored. Will need some racing luck from the inside post.

NOBLE INDY: Todd Pletcher colt won his first two starts before an even effort in the Risen Star when 3rd, beaten just two lengths as a 5-2 second choice. Pletcher wins Derby preps in bunches and won this race in 2013 with Revolutionary and was 2nd in 2014, 2015 and 2017. He adds blinkers for this which will enhance his speed. Can’t discount the highly successful connections.

MARMELLO: Maiden is also entered in the 4th race, a maiden special weight, and it would be a surprise if he runs in the Louisiana Derby. If he does stay in this race, he looks like a rank outsider. Ran well on the lead in his last race before tiring in the lane. Would have to see him show he is talented enough to face this kind of competition. Toss.

GIVEMEAMINIT: Nibbled in Grade 1 company as a two-year-old for trainer Dallas Stewart. He is a deep closer that will benefit from what appears to be a fast early pace. He was 22-1 in the Risen Star and did little when 8th, beaten 10 lengths. He did get bumped at the break. Picks up Castellano for the first time and the trainer is known for hitting the board with longshots.

RETIREMENT FUND: Steven Asmussen runner was two for two at the Fair Grounds to start his career. Both of those efforts were from the rail and wire to wire. He was far back in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park but that did come on a muddy track. There is already enough speed in the race and it’s unlikely he’ll get an easy trip. Would look elsewhere for top honors.

HYNDFORD: Another Pletcher runner was second in his last start behind last Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel winner, Magnum Moon. He was beaten just two lengths in there but Magnum Moon was mostly in hand and the rest of that field was pretty weak. Won a maiden claiming race prior to that. Top call rider for Pletcher, Castellano, is on another in here. Would be a surprise.

SNAPPER SINCLAIR: Lost a tough head bob to Bravazo at 42-1 in the Risen Star. He held the lead throughout when traveling on the inside part of the track and was just tagged on the wire. Absolutely massive rider move from a relatively unknown to one of the best in the country, Ortiz. Asmussen colt figures in here but might be a bit overbet. Consider.

LONE SAILOR: Tom Amoss colt is going to be a longshot in here but he has a huge chance to win. He was 3rd in a Grade 1 in 2017 and then finished second in a stakes ahead of Bravazo. He was 5th in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, a key race, and beat a few of the main foes in this race on that day. Added blinkers two back and that failed so they were immediately removed. Ran an excellent second in an allowance prep race when closing into a slow early pace. Deep pedigree that goes back to millionaire Althea (won the 1984 Arkansas Derby). Has worked very well in the morning since his last race. He’s 125-1 to win the Kentucky Derby at the Wynn. I’d bet him before Saturday as he is my pick to win the Louisiana Derby.

MY BOY JACK: He was the 9-1 winner of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes for the Desormeaux team. He rolled up the rail to win going away. That Oaklawn Park track was muddy and had a heavy inside bias, which benefited his run. Was a well-beaten 3rd in the Sham at Santa Anita prior to that but that should be considered a prep. Desormeaux is known for bringing his runners forward slowly. Deep closer will be passing them late. Major player in here.

DARK TEMPLAR: Just beat Lone Sailor in the allowance prep for this. However, he was uncontested on the lead in that race and they went 48.4 and 1.13.2, pretty slow on that track. He’s a $475,000 purchase and has been in the money in all four starts. He’s had a tough time breaking from the gate and that won’t help him from the outside post. He’s clearly talented but I think the post and trip might be against him. Would still toss into exotics at long odds.

Play of the week

The pick besides Lone Sailor in the Louisiana Derby, is in the 7th race at Oaklawn Park on Thursday. This is a 6 furlong maiden special weight for three-year-olds. No. 9 GETTING EVEN might be overlooked in this spot. He ran second in a similar race two starts earlier and the winner of that race returned to win again in allowance for Steven Asmussen.

This one clearly didn’t handle the muddy track in his last start. He’s 8-1 on the morning line and could conceivably go off at 10-1 or higher in here. It’s a pretty strong race but Getting Even offers some value in the exotics. Post time is 2:14 PST.