The $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) anchors an All-Stakes Pick 4 at Fair Grounds Saturday. An overflow field of 16, including a pair of also-eligibles, was entered, and the 1 3/16-mile race serves as a 170-point qualifier (100-40-20-10 scale) for the Kentucky Derby, which has been rescheduled for Sept. 5.
All four stakes are graded, including the $400,000 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), a qualifying race for the Kentucky Oaks on Sept. 4.
Here are my thoughts on the sequence:
Race 9 – New Orleans Classic (G2)
After winning the Louisiana (G3) and Mineshaft (G3), Silver Dust will seek a sweep of the major events for older horses. He stretches out to 1 1/8 miles (0-for-4) after a hard-fought win in the Mineshaft, earning his second straight declining Brisnet Speed rating (94) winning by three-quarters of a length, and faces some new opposition in the nine-horse field. I will try to beat the 6-year-old gelding at short odds.
#3 Fearless is my top choice. A debut winner in mid-December at Gulfstream Park, the 4-year-old gelded son of Ghostzapper stretched out to two turns with an impressive 8 1/2-length score on Feb. 1, registering a field-best 107 Speed rating and completing 1 1/16 miles in nearly the identical time as Holy Bull (G3) winner Tiz the Law the same afternoon. It’s a big jump from an entry-level allowance to stakes company, but Fearless won’t be facing the toughest rivals and possesses good speed in a field lacking pace. He’s bred to handle wet conditions as well.
#8 By My Standards exits a sharp comebacker, rolling to a six-length allowance triumph at Fair Grounds on Feb. 9, and last year Louisiana Derby winner shows a half-mile bullet work in preparation for Bret Calhoun. The Goldencents colt should be in position to pounce if the top choice falters.
Race 10 – Muniz Memorial Classic (G2)
The turf could have some give to it with showers in the forecast, and #1 Dot Matrix exits a commendable front-running win in the John B. Connelly (G3) at Sam Houston over less-than-firm conditions. The Brad Cox-trained gelding has run well on the Fair Grounds turf (3-2-1-0), and he’s 2-for-3 at the 1 1/8-mile distance. Dot Matrix is well-drawn on the inside, and should receive a favorable trip on or close to moderate fractions. I will give him the edge in the 13-horse field.
I will also use both Chad Brown runners, comebacker #4 Rockemperor and in-form #6 Instilled Regard; Grade 1 victor #8 Channel Maker; and Fair Grounds S. (G3) winner #9 Factor This.
Race 11 – Fair Grounds Oaks
#6 Finite will be a popular single following an outstanding 4 3/4-length win in the Feb. 15 Rachel Alexandra (G2), but her 91 Brisnet Speed rating does not lay over a couple of rivals.
#4 Bonny South received an 89 Speed figure when capturing a Feb. 15 entry-level allowance event, and was flattered when runner-up Shedaresthedevil came back to win the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park. #5 Stop Shoppin Tammy earned an 87 Speed rating when breaking her maiden wire-to-wire on the Rachel Alexandra undercard, and the gray daughter of Tapit looks like the one to catch with Corey Lanerie.
Race 12 – Louisiana Derby
#3 Wells Bayou opened 2020 with a smart front-running allowance win at Oaklawn Park, registering a 96 Brisnet Speed rating posting a four-length decision on a muddy track, and recorded an excellent second when making his stakes debut in the Feb. 17 Southwest (G3), digging in determinedly when challenged by Silver Prospector to wind up more than five lengths clear of the rest.
By Lookin at Lucky, sire of 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House, Wells Bayou looks more than capable of another forward move here in his third start off the layoff for Brad Cox. The other speed is drawn toward the outside of the full starting gate, and the bay colt has the best speed-rider in the game presently in Florent Geroux. I like Wells Bayou wire-to-wire.
If the speed comes up short, #10 Enforceable can be along in time. I like the improvement he’s shown at age 3 for Mark Casse, posting a 1 1/2-length score in the Lecomte (G3) before a rallying second in the tougher first division of the Risen Star (G2), and the gray son of Tapit shows a couple of swift works in preparation. If he can avoid dropping too far back in the early stages, Enforceable can make a serious impact in the latter stages with Julien Leparoux.
50-cent All-Stakes Pick 4 Wager (races 9-12)
- 3,8 with 1,4,6,8,9 with 4,5,6 with 3,10 = $30