What ever happened to Life At Ten? How good of a field is the Louisiana Derby? Where will Kathmanblu run in her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks? All that and more in Monday's Quick Thoughts.
- I don't know how many of you have had a chance to take a look at the PPs for this Saturday's Louisiana Derby, but I made a quick pass of them last night and quickly came to the following conclusion: the field may have 13 horses in it but the quality is as thin as a piece of tracing paper.
Only two of the thirteen horses have every won a graded stakes race (Wilkinson/LeComte, Mucho Macho Man/Risen Star). Only three have every placed in a graded stakes race (Wilkinson, Mucho Macho Man, and Elite Alex/Southwest). Three horses are coming straight out of maiden races, including one that is still a maiden (Le Mans). And finally, one horse is about the easiest throwout a handicapper will ever come across (Liondrive). On paper, this looks like an incredibly weak field.
- Sixty percent of Saturday's $1 million Louisiana Derby purse will go to the winner, a hefty $600,000 that will ensure a spot in the starting gate of this year's Kentucky Derby. The place horse will receive 20%, or $200,000, which will likely put any horse right on the cusp of the top 20 in graded earnings. With several of the Derby preps upping their purses to $1 million this year (LaDerby, Wood, SA Derby), the threshold for cracking the top 20 will probably be a bit higher than in year's past. Additionally, we've only had one high-profile defection at this point in the spring (Boys At Tosconova), making the Top 20 even more compact.
- Is it Dubai World Cup time already?
After last year's first go-around with the Tapeta surface at Meydan, I can say with 100% confidence that I'm going to give a lot more weight to horses that have run successfully on the main track on previous occasions. The days of American dominance of the main track races in Dubai are clearly over (although U.S. trainees are still a powerful force in the sprint group).
- The LaDerby might be on the soft side, but the New Orleans Handicap came up as an excellent betting race. Demarcation at 4/1 on the ML? I don't particularly care to play stone-cold closers in a tough races like the NO Hcp, but I make exceptions at the Fair Grounds where coming from off-the-pace in two-turn races is not a disadvantage.
- All the talk about Life At Ten over the last six months has centered around her performance at the Breeders' Cup and the ensuing investigation, but what ever happened to this filly? Well, she's down in Florida working at Palm Meadows and appears to be nearing a return to racing in the near future.
Kathmanblu, one of the leading contenders for this year's Kentucky Oaks but a filly that had to work a little harder than she should to win the listed Rachel Alexandra Stakes last time out, is currently being pointed towards the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 9th. (I've got a Keeneland Spring Meet preview in the hopper.)
I think the switch back to the Polytrack is a good move for this filly over the near term. A good, solid race at Keeneland, whether she wins or loses, should help to develop aditional stamina heading towards the Oaks. Plus, given her previous versatility, why not put her back on a track where she's run well in the past, as opposed to the Fair Grounds main track where she had to work a bit harder than most would have expected in winning the Rachel.
- While the Louisiana Derby garners a lot of the attentions this weekend, two other tracks will also card graded stakes races for three-year-old colts. Turfway Park will feature the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at nine furlongs on the Polytrack. The total purse for the Spiral Stakes is $500,000.
At Sunland Park, the $800,000 Sunland Derby will highlight Sunday's racing. The large purse of the Sunland has turned what used to be a obscure race into a "win and you're in" affair for the Kentucky Derby. (I wrote a bit about this last spring.)