Saturday’s card at Fair Grounds is headlined by the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). The 1 3/16-mile event offers a total of 170 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby (G1) with 100 going to the winner.
The 2020 Louisiana Derby drew a full field and offers handicappers several ways to go. Here are my thoughts on each runner.
Louisiana Derby contenders
#1 Major Fed– The son of Ghostzapper ran a strong second to Modernist in the second division of the Risen Star (G2). He was likely closer to the pace than he wanted to be that day due to track bias and race dynamics. The presence of Joel Rosario, the rail draw, and an expected honest early tempo make him my lukewarm top choice.
#2 Mailman Money– Had some trouble from his outside draw in the division of the Risen Star won by Modernist. Gets a better post on Saturday, but I have serious concerns about him getting the distance.
#3 Wells Bayou– Enters the Louisiana Derby with the fastest last-out Brisnet Speed rating (95). If he gets left alone on the front end, he will be tough to catch. However, the presence of Ny Traffic makes that unlikely. A must-use nonetheless.
#4 Chestertown– The pricey New York-bred has burnt a ton of money over his first four starts for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. He was likely best last time out in an optional claimer that includes two others in this event, but needs to show more to use on the class hike.
#5 Social Afleet– I have seen Dallas Stewart win big races with longshots before, but this one might top the list. Too slow and badly outclassed.
#6 Shake Some Action– Comes in on a two-race winning streak, including a victory over Chestertown and Sharecropper, but needs a big move forward to be there at the wire.
#7 Sharecropper– Loved the way he finished when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs last Oct. Encountered traffic issues in his first race as a 3-year-old. Pedigree suggests the added distance will be to his advantage. At his price I will make him my underneath exotic key on an expected big move forward for trainer Al Stall.
#8 Royal Act– Runner-up effort in Robert B. Lewis (G3) came back with a strong 91 Brisnet Speed rating, but winner Thousand Words failed to impress in his subsequent start. Mixed feelings.
#9 Portos– Distance should not be an issue for this son of Tapit, but he lacks any real punch. If he can stay closer to the early pace than he did last time in the Withers (G3) he can grind away a minor share.
#10 Enforceable– The deserving 7-2-morning line favorite based on his win in the Lecomte (G3) and equally impressive runner-up performance in the first Risen Star division when he was against the flow and track bias. Tough to swallow a short price in a competitive full field, but equally difficult to toss him.
#11 Ny Traffic– This Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee does not strike me as a colt that wants to go this far, but he will be a major factor in this race. If sent hard from his outside post he will compromise Wells Bayou’s chances.
#12 Lynn’s Map– I was a huge fan of this Liam’s Map colt heading into 2020, but he has disappointed in both Derby qualifiers. I can make excuses for both, so willing to include one more time at a massive price.
#13 Silver State– My longshot bet in Kentucky Derby Future Wager 1 disappointed badly last time out despite finishing third. The trip is not a concern, but he just seems to be a cut below the top colts in the land, including Enforceable. Jumping off him for the first time on Saturday.
#14 Modernist– Has won two straight on the engine, but drew the rail in both of those starts forcing the hand of jockey Junior Alvarado. Expecting him to stalk the early pace from his far outside draw. If he can avoid getting caught up in an early tussle he has a shot to make it three in a row.
#15 Mr. Big News (AE)- Only win came by a nose over this racetrack in Jan. Did not run terrible in the second division of the Risen Star. Can maybe fill out the exotics at a huge price if he draws in.
#16 Farmington Road (AE)- Was against the flow and wide in the first division of the Risen Star, but reportedly did not ship once relegated to also-eligible list.
50-cent Superfecta Wheel
1,3,9,14 with 1,3,9,14 with 7 with 1,3,8,9,10,12,13,14 = $36
50-cent Superfecta Wheel
1,3,9,14 with 1,3,9,14 with 1,3,7,8,9,10,12,13,14 with 7 = $36
Total Budget= $72