Nine three-year-old colts will line up in the starting gate at the Fair Grounds to contest the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes (Post time: 5:23 pm Eastern/TV: HRTV) on Saturday, January 18th, all of which are attempting to take a small but necessary first step towards the 2014 Kentucky Derby. The Derby is still a long ways off in terms of "horse racing time", but I suppose it's never too early to start taking stock of this season's crop of three-year-old colts.
The Lecomte isn't the first Derby "prep" of the season, but given the extremely small field in last weekend's Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, and the fact that most of the other prior scoring races were run in 2013, this weekend seems like a good time to start ramping up the unofficial/official start to the season.
Gold Hawk, a dominating winner at the Fair Grounds versus allowance company last time out (a race in which he had a rough, rough trip), leads the field of nine from post position number four. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this son of Empire Maker is a perfect two-for-two in his brief career and looks like he could develop into a really nice looking colt over the next few months.
Albano, trained by Larry Jones, comes into the Lecomte off of a score in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds back on Dec. 21st. This is his first try at two turns and, against a different field, He's a colt that you could envision attempting to wire this field. Unfortunately for Albano, he drew to the immediate inside of the other true-blue speed horse in the field: Vicar's in Trouble*, a Mike Maker colt that blew the doors off of a Louisiana-bred Maiden Special Weight in mid-December.
*Vicar's in Trouble is one of those rare Ken & Sarah Ramsey colts that isn't a product of Kitten's Joy and isn't a home bred. Wonders never cease!
If Vicar's in Trouble wasn't in this race, I'd be tempted to take a chance on Albano wiring this group but he's not going to get anything handed to him early. And when you toss Rosie Napravnik into the irons of Vicar's in Trouble, well, I just don't see Rosie letting another speed horse steal this race from her speed horse.
The rail horse, Roman Unbridled, has also shown a bit of speed at times, especially in his last start when he won by 8 ½ at Delta Downs. But I think you could make the argument that he inherited the lead from a slower pace as opposed to breaking fast and taking command. My concern is that he'll get used up a bit early trying to get the lead with two other speed horses drawn further to his outside.
The most intriguing horse in the field, from my perspective, is Got Shades, the son of Pollard's Vision making his first start on dirt after five tries over the lawn. His most recent start came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf where he was a decent fifth out of 13. If this colt were to improve on the move to the lawn (and that's always a big "if"), I think he fits right into the mix with the best in the field. His recent works over the main track, including his Monday move at the Fair Grounds, suggests he might be able to make a relatively seamless transition.
(Check out the Lasix pattern with Got Shades: Lasix for the first three starts of his carer and then none for both the Zuma Beach and the BC Juvenile Turf (with the latter a no choice situation), but stays off of Lasix for this race.)
The Lecomte is part of the 2014 Road to the Kentucky Derby points systems, with the top four finishers of the race receiving 10, 4, 2 and 1 point, respectively.
Below are the entries and post positions for Saturday's Lecomte Stakes.
|1||Roman Unbridled||K. Smith||C. Cook||8/1|
|2||Rainbow Trip||C. Landeros||D. Pish||12/1|
|3||Got Shades||R. Albarado||D. Pish||8/1|
|4||Gold Hawk||S. Bridgmohan||S. Asmussen||3/1|
|5||Smarty's Echo||J. Graham||A. Smith||8/1|
|6||Albano||K. Clark||J. Jones||7/2|
|7||Vicar's in Trouble||R. Napravnik||M. Maker||9/1|
|8||Silent Ruler||M. Guidry||J. Desormeaux||15/1|
|9||Plug Catcher||M. Meno||W. Calhoun||6/1|