A total of six stakes, including qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, are part of the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day program at Fair Grounds. The 13-race program concludes with a $100,000 guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 5.
Here are my thoughts on the sequence:
Race 9 – Marie K. Kranz Memorial S.
#5 Dalika and #3 Secret Message are major contenders after finishing first and third in the Dec. 19 Blushing K.D. S. over the course. English import #2 Jeanie B makes her first North American stakes attempt following a sharp allowance win at Woodbine, and the 4-year-old filly should sit a good trip from her inside post for Mark Casse and Florent Geroux. #4 Xanthique, who should appreciate the stretch back out to two turns, will be added to the mix at expected long odds.
Race 10 – Louisiana S. (G3)
#3 Silver Prospector cuts back to a favorable 1 1/16-mile trip (2-for-3 at distance) following a pair of respectable efforts at Churchill Downs following a long layoff. The gray colt appears to be training forwardly in preparation for Steve Asmussen, and he should sit a good trip just off a moderate pace before offering his best. I will single him.
Race 11 – Colonel E.R. Bradley S.
I’m against the top three choices on the morning line. #4 Big Agenda is my top pick for Mike Maker, and #6 Vettori Kin, #7 Split the Wickets, and #11 Mr. Misunderstood will be added, as well.
Race 12 – Silverbulletday S.
The first of three Kentucky Oaks qualifiers at Fair Grounds, the Silverbulletday features a pair of imposing short-priced fillies in #1 Souper Sensational and #9 Sun Path. I will use both on my ticket, but #8 Littlestitious is my top choice.
Littlestitious needed a few starts to figure things out, suddenly coming alive in the stretch to break her maiden going away at Keeneland two starts back, and the Tom Amoss trainee looked professional romping by 10 lengths in the 7-furlong My Trusty Cat S. at Delta Downs most recently. Bred to route top and bottom, the Ghostzapper filly should appreciate the added ground and has some tactical speed.
Race 13 – Lecomte S. (G3)
Worth 17 points (10-4-2-1 scale) toward a Kentucky Derby berth, the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte marks the stakes and two-turn debut for #10 Mandaloun. His debut maiden win at 6-furlongs was solid, and the Into Mischief colt impressively stepped forward when taking a 7-furlong allowance in late November. Mandaloun has plenty of upside for Brad Cox, and I won’t try to beat him in the Lecomte.
All-Stakes Pick 5 Ticket
2,3,4,5 with 3 with 4,6,7,11 with 1,8,9 with 10 ($24)
Whoever you like in the Lecomte, be sure to opt into TwinSpires.com’s Kentucky Derby Prep Race $150k Leaderboard Competition for a chance to win a VIP trip for two to the Kentucky Derby, or a share of $150,000, by earning points based on win bets throughout the winter and spring on 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby preps.