A big purse of $750,000 is at stake in today's Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, as well as a spot in the starting gate for the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Let's take a look at the prime contenders.
Unlike the situation in the Risen Star, the Louisiana Derby looks to have no shortage of speed horses. The Program, A Little Warm, Discreetly Mine, Wow Wow Wow, and Backtrack could all find themselves up near the lead as the field heads into the first turn. The chances of the Risen Star winner Discreetly Mine getting a nice and easy lead seem very slim which means that to win he's going to have to stalk and pounce. Looking at this colt's previous races it's difficult to tell if he's got type of versatility in the arsenal. In both the Grade 1 Champagne and the Grade 2 Futurity he had to take back and stalk the leaders but in each instance he wasn't able to get up for the win. To be fair, he was beaten by Homeboykris and D'Funnybone in each of those one-turn races, both of which are quality colts. He may have the talent to pull it off but given his low odds I'll be looking for a horse to take advantage of pace.
If the pace is fast, then two horses really stand out to me as having an excellent chance to pick up the pieces in the stretch: 9-Stay Put and 13-Drosselmeyer. Drosselmeyer draws very wide but should have every opportunity to take back and tuck in towards the rail before he hits the first turn. The key to Drosselmeyer winning this race will be if he can get the jump on the closers at the top of the stretch. If he's able to make a solid move on the turn and pass the tiring pacesetters at the top of the lane, while separating from the deep closers, he should be able to hold them off in the stretch. The risk with this horse is using too much energy to catch the frontrunners and weakening during a long drive.
Drosselmeyer is 5/1 on the morning line.
Stay Put is a stone cold closer and yet he was able to run a solid race in the Risen Star despite the slow early fractions. Trainer Steve Margolis and jockey Jamie Theriot work well together at the Fair Grounds, hitting at 31% with a $2.91 ROI. Throw in a couple of solid works leading up to this race and Stay Put looks like a horse could run big. In his last race this colt went wide into the first turn, wide into the second turn, and then closed to finish 5th by 2 ¾ lengths, just behind Drosselmeyer and just ahead of LeComte winner Ron the Greek.
Stay Put sits at 10/1 on the ML and could be a great value play at post time.
With the long Fair Grounds stretch and a field with a lot of early speed, I'd be very surprised if we see a wire to wire winner in the Louisiana Derby.
Drosselmeyer over Stay Put