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Louisiana Derby Handicapping

The $1,000,000 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) is the first of seven Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races that awards 100 points to the winner, 40 points to the second-place finisher, 20 points to the third-place finisher and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher.

It will be run Saturday at the Fair Grounds going nine furlongs and it attracted a field of eleven. A well rounded field will present plenty of interesting wagering opportunities.

Six starters raced in the prep for this four weeks ago, the Risen Star Stakes (G2), and it remains to be seen how their form will hold up. The race was average in time and the winner only earned a BRIS speed rating of 96. If some of the new shooters can jump up, the field looks ripe for an outsider.

LA Derby Handicapping Notes

The Louisiana Derby is often a gumbo pot of diverse contenders, assembled from near and far at Fair Grounds. That can present an additional handicapping challenge to compare runners from various circuits.

The natural starting point for analyzing the contenders is the Risen Star, the final local prep, which has produced nine of the last 14 Louisiana Derby winners. Yet it is significant that only three Risen Star winners have turned the double. As a result, Risen Star losers warrant a close look here, especially if they had an excuse last time.

When evaluating shippers who will be trying Fair Grounds for the first time, consider which ones stand to benefit from the long stretch. Connections have been known to dispatch deep closers here because Fair Grounds could be more conducive to their running style. The historic New Orleans track has also been hospitable to shippers from all over, with Southern Californians and East Coasters alike performing well.

As always, the Brisnet PPs are indispensable for your handicapping homework. The projected pace scenario could tilt in favor of a classy speed horse with little in the way of early challengers, or conversely, an abundance of pace types could set the table for a closer.

The BRIS Speed figures also help to compare the merits of promising sophomores who are facing each other for the first time. They can help to determine if the Risen Star was up to its usual standard, or if a highly-touted shipper is more hype than substance.