Enforceable continues ascent with late-running Lecomte victory
Capitalizing on a fast pace, Enforceable delivered a career-best performance in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3) on Jan. 18 at Fair Grounds, where he closed impressively from the back of the pack to score a comfortable victory.Racing for the first time since a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, Enforceable received a patient ride from jockey Julien Leparoux and rated in 11th, while longshots Bango and Shashashakemeup carved out fractions of :23.46, :47.41, and 1:12.20.
Rounding the far turn, Enforceable commenced a rally on the far outside and swept past horses with a quick burst of acceleration. He pounced on the leg-weary leaders at the top of the stretch and forged to a two-length advantage as he passed the eighth pole, at which point the race was all but over. Silver State and Mr. Monomoy gamely gave chase through the final furlong, but Enforceable held them clear by 1 1/2 lengths in the time of 1:43.72 for 1 1/16 miles.
“He broke like he usually does—not as fast as others,” Leparoux said. “We traveled well the whole race, and down the backside he was just dragging me. When we got around the second turn, I got out in the clear, and he had a big run. He’s a horse that I am very excited about.”
Silver State edged Mr. Monomoy by a neck for second place, while Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up Finnick the Fierce produced a mild rally to round out top four. Scabbard, Shashashakemeup, Excession, Halo Again, Bango, Perfect Star, Jack the Umpire, Sycamore Run, and New Eagle completed the order of finish.
Owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, Enforceable earned 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which brings his total to 13. Assistant trainer David Carroll indicated the Feb. 15 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds could be the next target for Enforceable.
“Mark likes to put a good foundation into his 2-year-olds,” Carroll said. “We are so happy for Mr. and Mrs. Oxley. They are terrific owners, and we wish they were here today. I am sure they were watching at home, cheering him on. He trained beautifully down here, and he is starting to mature. He’s a very kind horse to be around.”
Enforceable’s pedigree suggests he will continue to improve. His pedigree is packed with stamina from top to bottom, which introduces a different question. Will Enforceable have the speed and precocity to succeed at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May?
That’s a valid concern. Enforceable's sire is Tapit, whose long-winded foals have won three editions of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (G1). But Tapit’s best 3-year-olds tend to hit their stride later in the season, and sons of Tapit are winless in 10 Kentucky Derby (G1) starts.
One of Tapit’s Derby disappointments was Mohaymen, a four-time Grade 2 winner who finished fourth in the Run for the Roses. Mohaymen and Enforceable are full brothers produced by the two-time Grade 2-winning mare Justwhistledixie, who birthed Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner New Year’s Day and La Jolla Handicap (G3) winner Kingly.
Considering Justwhistledixie has produced four graded winners from four starters—all of them successful running a mile or farther—Enforceable definitely hails from a formidable family. But Justwhistledixie is a daughter of Dixie Union, best known as the sire of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, which reiterates the possibility that Enforceable will peak for the Belmont in late spring rather than the Kentucky Derby