In these uncertain times, an afternoon of distraction can be helpful. Fair Grounds and other tracks across the country will be there to provide as much on Saturday, with the New Orleans course hosting the most significant action with four graded stakes including the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).
Here are horses of interest on the card:
This salty turf maiden for 3-year-olds may be one of those rare opportunities to get a price on a runner from the barn of Matt Shirer, who’s been striking at a rate north of 40% the entire meet. #14 INCARNATION (15-1) is out of a dam that has reared 10 winners from as many to race, most notably dual classic winner and champion Big Brown. This Temple City filly is also a full sister to Grade 3 winner Archaggelos. Has experience and post hurdles to overcome, but again the price should be right.
The second division of the open turf maiden for 3-year-olds includes #3 KOKO’S STAR (10-1), a horse I felt worth using in multi-race wagers in a similar spot on Lecomte Day. Unfortunately, a slow start compromised his chances entirely, though he did show a little bit near the end. That proved a tough race as the winner and runner-up wound up repeating, and feel better yet to come from this Kitten’s Joy full brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Csaba.
Race 10 — Muniz Memorial (G2)
He’s not a frequent winner, but #8 CHANNEL MAKER (6-1) certainly fast enough to win this with some of his stronger 2019 efforts. Even fourth in the Mac Diarmida (G2) was a useful prep off a winter break, and worth noting he’s 0-fer over the Gulfstream lawn while he tends to be a more prominent factor in other non-Breeders’ Cup spots. Capable on wet ground if it comes to that, and could take a forward move here in the second start of his form cycle.
Race 12 — TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2)
Like several colleagues, I was greatly impressed with the effort put in by #3 WELLS BAYOU (6-1) in last month’s Southwest (G3), setting a strong pace and only yielding to the vastly more experienced Silver Prospector. While that rival didn’t flatter the form in last week’s Rebel (G2), this colt remains with tremendous upside and might be too quick for these even though he stretches out an extra furlong. Figures to go off much lower than his morning line price.