Five horses who stood tall in Louisiana Derby winner's circle

March 25th, 2016

The Louisiana Derby (G2) has been around a long time, yet only two of its winners have gone on to capture the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Black Gold, a local legend whose remains are interred in the Fair Grounds infield, was the first to pull off the double in 1924, and it would be more than 70 years before the feat was replicated by Grindstone in 1996.

Here are five other winners of the Louisiana Derby that also deserve a bit of recognition:

Peace Rules (2003)

Campaigned primarily on grass at two when he was a multiple stakes winner, he made his three-year-old debut in the Louisiana Derby and registered a 9-1 upset over, among others, eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Funny Cide.

Also the winner of the Blue Grass (G1), Peace Rules finished third in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness to Funny Cide but split the season series with his champion rival when taking the Haskell Invitational (G1). He later finished second in the Travers (G1).

Peace Rules blew hot and cold at age four, but did score victories in the New Orleans H. (G2), Oaklawn H. (G2), and Suburban H. (G1). He twice defeated Funny Cide and future Horse of the Year Saint Liam that season.

Dispersal (1989)

Arguably the second best horse trained by Bud Delp (the first, of course, being Spectacular Bid), the chestnut was by Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo and out of a mare by 1976 Louisiana Derby hero Johnny Appleseed.

A non-participant in the Triple Crown, Dispersal scored a second big win at three in the $500,000 NYRA Mile (now the Cigar Mile) and narrowly missed in the Blue Grass (G1), American Derby (G1), and Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), the latter by a half-length.

At four, he racked up Midwest victories in the Cornhusker H. (G3) at Ak-Sar-Ben and Canterbury Cup (G3) before posting a mild upset in the Woodward H. (G1) at Belmont over the likes of Horse of the Year Criminal Type and Quiet American.

Golden Act (1979)

One of the best in his crop not named Spectacular Bid, this California-bred landed the Louisiana Derby/Arkansas Derby (G2) double before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness behind 'The Bid.' In the Belmont (G1), he finished second to Coastal as Spectacular Bid finished a tired third in his quest for the Triple Crown.

Golden Act found his true calling on the grass in the second of his three-year-old season, reeling off three straight in the Secretariat (G2), Lawrence Realization (G2), and Canadian International (G1), the latter over turf female champion Trillion.

Master Derby (1975)

The only winner of the Louisiana Derby between Black Gold and Grindstone to win a classic, he upset Foolish Pleasure in the Preakness after running fourth behind him in the Kentucky Derby. Other highlights at three included a win in the Blue Grass and a third-place effort in the Belmont.

Unplaced only five times in 33 career starts, his four-year-old campaign included victories in the New Orleans H. (G3) and Oaklawn H. (G3), and placings in the Metropolitan H. (G1) and Trenton H. (G2).

Greek Ship (1950)

A bit lower in the pecking order behind Horse of the Year Hill Prince and dual classic winner Middleground, his sophomore accomplishments are nonetheless amazing by modern standards.

In addition to wins in the Louisiana Derby and Choice (the precursor of the Haskell) at Monmouth Park, Greek Ship made a habit of beating older horses at three with top level victories in the Met Mile, 1 1/4-mile Monmouth H. (now the Iselin), and 1 5/8-mile Gold Cup at Jamaica, the latter a race won by five champions (Stymie, Citation, One Count, Counterpoint, and Crafty Admiral) in its short seven-year history.

Previously in the series, I selected five underrated winners of the Gotham (G3) and San Felipe (G2), and recognized the quintet of Rebel (G2) winners campaigned by Loblolly Stable.

(Master Derby photo courtesy of Fair Grounds)