How Scott Shapiro is approaching his Pick 4 tickets

The first of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races at Fair Grounds Race Course headlines a juicy 13-race card on Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.

A $100,000 All-Stakes Pick 4 over the final four races concluding with the LeComte (G3) gives horseplayers an opportunity to end the big day with a bang in the “Big Easy.” Here are my thoughts on the sequence.

Suggested Ticket (If Race 11 remains on grass)

  • R10: 2+8
  • R11: 4+5+7+14
  • R12: 6
  • R13: 9+10

Ticket Cost for $1 wager: $16

Suggested Ticket (If Race 11 is taken off the lawn)

  • R10: 2+8
  • R11: 1+3+12
  • R12: 6
  • R13: 9+10

Ticket Cost for $1 wager: $12

Shap’s Lecomte Stakes Analysis

Race 10: Louisiana (G3)

3-1-morning line favorite #2 Silver Dust has not been seen since a tough neck beat in the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs in late September. The son of Tapit has two wins and three runner-up finishes in six starts over the Fair Grounds main track and finds a field that is void of early speed other than #4 Gun It to his outside. I like the 6-year-old gelding’s chances to get to the wire first after finishing second to Harlan’s Punch in the 2019 edition.

If Gun It and Silver Dust go at it early, #8 Kukullan is likeliest to take advantage. The Mexican-bred clearly has a nose for the wire having won 16 of 20 lifetime tries, including two in the States since arriving here in the winter of 2018. He threw in a dud in the aforementioned Lukas Classic and ran terrible in the slop when overmatched in last year’s Pegasus World Cup (G1), but has the ability to finish with a flurry.

Race 11: Colonel E.R Bradley S.

With rain in the forecast on Friday night and Saturday there is a major chance this $125,000 event is taken off the grass.

If it remains on the sod, I will use several including 15-1 shot #7 Sailing Solo who has a victory in his lone try over this turf course and should be carving out the early fractions and #4 Dontblamerocket who looks to make it three straight wins since being claimed by Norm Casse last year.

If it comes off the lawn, I will narrow it down to a few that have had success over the main track, including #3 Blended Citizen who will likely opt for this spot over the Louisiana.

Race 12: Silverbulletday S.

#6 Finite makes her first start in 2020 after winning three of five in her 2-year-old campaign, including a three-quarter length score in the slop in the Golden Rod (G2). There are others in this affair with early zip, which could be seen as cause for concern, but the daughter of Munnings is drawn favorably towards the outside in this group of eight and has shown the ability to relax just off the pace.

I am not interested in trying to beat Finite, but if you are looking to take a shot against the likeliest single in the sequence #2 Pass the Plate could be running on late. The Silverton Hill filly has not tried the main track yet, but has proven she can get the two-turns and is out of a Great Notion mare that captured 5 of her 6 career victories over the dirt.

Race 13: Lecomte (G3)

There are a lot of horses that like to be on or near the lead signed on for the first Derby prep of the meeting. With #11 Bango, #12 Shashashakemeup, and #13 Sycamore Run drawn to the far outside and #2 Mr. Monomoy and #3 Perfect Star posted along the inside, it is hard to envision the early pace not being contentious. Therefore, I will lean on a couple of runners from off the pace to close out All-Stakes Pick 4.

#4 Scabbard fits this profile and is likely to be sent off as the favorite, but I still have my concerns about this son of More Than Ready being a true two-turn horse. Sure, he finished well to finish second back in Sept. in the Iroquois (G3), but he has the look of a late running one-turn horse to me. 

My top pick in this year’s LeComte is #9 Silver State. The $450,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase was well backed in his debut at Churchill Downs on Sept. 27 and ran a huge race to dead heat for first despite a tardy beginning. He once again struggled out of the gate in his first start versus winners two months later, but again ran well just missing as the 9-5-favorite. The son of Hard Spun should relish two-turns and should get the right trip under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.

I will also include #10 Enforceable at a price. The Tapit colt is one of the few runners in the field to illustrate he can get a route of ground and appears to be training forwardly for his first start since a fourth-place effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on Nov. 30.

With rain in the forecast, it is encouraging that both Silver State and Enforceable have proven they can perform effectively over the off going.