The trio of graded stakes races for three-year-old colts at the Fair Grounds -- the Lecomte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby -- kicks off on Saturday with the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at a mile an 70 yards on the main track. The race has drawn a field of nine and will go to post at 5:55 pm Eastern time.
Last year's stakes series for 3yos at the Fair Grounds was high on numbers but lacking in depth of class. The Lecomte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby struggled to attract the best of last year's three-year-old crop, as evidenced by the ranking of each race relative to all other graded stakes races for three-year-old colts in 2011. Based on the Divisional Rankings I put together (which you can read about here, if you are unfamiliar with the system), the winning performances of the horses in the three race were, overall, below average.
Of the three races, only El Padrino's win in the Risen Star clocked in as an above average performance, based on a comparison of speed and performance figures. And if you compare only pre-Kentucky Derby graded stakes races, the Risen Star is still the only above average winning performance of the group and the Lecomte, won by Mr. Bowling, ranked as the worst of all. (Take Charge Indy's win in the Florida Derby ranked as the median performance of the spring; see chart below.)
Lecomte: Mr. Bowling (79 Beyer, 95 Bris, 92 Equibase, -22 Performance Figures)
Risen Star: El Padrino (98, 101, 101, -53)
Louisiana Derby: Hero of Order (90, 95, 107, -45)
Median 3YO Graded Stakes (96 Beyer, 101 Bris, 108 Equibase, -47 Performance Figures)
Median Pre-Derby 3YO Graded Stakes (95, 102, 105, -43)
|OP||Southwest (Div 2)||Secret Circle||187.50|
|SA||San Felipe||Creative Cause||162.50|
|KEE||Blue Grass Stakes||Dullahan||160.71|
|PRX||Smarty Jones||Easter Gift||155.36|
|SA||Sham||Out of Bounds||151.79|
|FG||Risen Star||El Padrino||119.64|
|SA||Santa Anita Derby||I'll Have Another||105.36|
|SA||Robert Lewis||I'll Have Another||103.57|
|GP||Florida Derby||Take Charge Indy||100.00|
|SUN||Sunland Derby||Daddy Nose Best||98.21|
|GP||Fountain of Youth||Union Rags||94.64|
|AQU||Jerome||The Lumber Guy||94.64|
|TP||Spiral Stakes||Went the Day Well||85.71|
|GG||El Camino Real||Daddy Nose Best||78.57|
|FG||Louisiana Derby||Hero of Order||76.79|
|KEE||Lexington||All Squared Away||69.64|
|TAM||Tampa Bay Derby||Prospective||58.93|
|OP||Southwest (Div 1)||Castaway||55.36|
|HAW||Illinois Derby||Done Talking||48.21|
|TAM||Sam F. Davis||Battle Hardened||16.07|
As recently as 2007, the LeComte produced a top Kentucky Derby contender in the form of Hard Spun, runner-up to Street Sense at Churchill Downs. In 2009, Freisen Fire, a colt that swept the Lecomte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, went to the Derby post as the betting favorite. He finished 18th. Ron the Greek won the Lecomte in 2010 and Wilkinson in 2011.
Overall, the Kentucky Derby preps at the Fair Grounds tend to produce solid efforts by horses with solid, or at least average, Derby credentials. So the Fair Grounds is looking for a bit of a rebound this year with it's 3yo stakes calendar, beginning with the 2012 LecCmte Stakes on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Below are the entries and post positions for Saturday's Lecomte Stakes.
Morning line odds will be added when released.
|G3-Lecomte Stakes; Post Time: 5:55pm Eastern|
|1||Malibu High||M. Mena||C. Borel||5/1|
|2||Heitai||R. Eramia||S. Breaux||10/1|
|3||Fear the Kitten||S. Bridgmohan||M. Maker||8/1|
|4||Oxbow||J. Court||D. Lukas||8/1|
|5||Hawaakom||L. Goncalves||D. Peitz||20/1|
|6||Avie's Quality||R. Napravnik||J. Carroll||5/2|
|7||Golden Soul||B. Hernandez||D. Stewart||5/1|
|8||Circle Unbroken||M. Guidry||G. Simms||7/|
|9||Ive Struck a Nerve||K. Desormeaux||J. Desormeaux||12/1|
A quick look at some of the LeComte entries:
- 3-Fear the Kitten gets another try on the dirt after a lackluster effort in the G2-Kentucky Jockey Club back on Nov. 24 when he finished fifth. The trip notes indicate that he was eight wide coming off the far turn during that race but a check of the Trakus data suggests that while he lost ground racing wide, he didn't lose as much as some other rivals in the field. Fear the Kitten covered 5,677 feet during the Kentucky Jockey Club, that's a 18 feet greater than the winner, Uncaptured, but 10 to 20 feet less than place and show horses Frac Daddy and Dewey Square.
- 4-Oxbow could be a good candidate to pop a good effort in this race after finishing a distant fourth in the G1-CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 15. His two tries on synthetic surfaces are not quite as strong as his last two dirt efforts, especially in relation to the amount of early speed he's displayed. I'm hesitant, however, by the presence of D. Wayne Lukas, as the Hall of Fame trainer has only five wins in his last 227 graded stakes starts (2% Win%, 23% In-The-Money%, $0.16 $2 ROI). It's hard to bet a horse with confidence when the trainer sports ugly numbers.
- 6-Avie's Quality did absolutely nothing wrong during his juvenile campaign up at Woodbine but he's trying the dirt for the first time on Saturday. If he can transfer his synthetic form to the Fair Grounds dirt, he'll be a legit top contender for win honors. But that's a big "if" at this point.
- I love the look of 7-Golden Soul, a son of Perfect Soul (IRE) out of a Mr. Prospector mare (Hollywood Gold) that rolls into the LeComte off of a big 7 ¼ length victory against maiden special weight company at the Fair Grounds back on Dec. 30. Golden Soul is a half-brother to dirt router I Testify and Quinton's Gold Rush, so it's not surprising he won his first attempt at two-turns.
- 8-Circle Unbroken ran some solid races as a juvenile and then went to the sidelines in August. He's making his first start in about five months and he'll be going two turns for the first time. Suffice to say, there might be some fitness questions with this colt.
I'll have more on the Lecomte later this week.