The Brock Talk

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lecomte Has Kentucky Derby Opportunites For Horses and Fans

The trail to the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) passes through New Orleans Saturday as 13 aspiring young thoroughbred line up in the $175,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. The 1-mile and 70 yards Lecomte is the first serious prep race for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) April 1, itself a major prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

While some may discount races this early in the year as not having much of an impact on the Derby compared to races in March and April (tell us some more fascinating and useful information there Captain Obvious), it should be noted that the 2009 Lecomte was won by future Kentucky Derby favorite Freisan Fire and Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun in 2007. Between those two, Z Fortune won the Lecomte on his way to starting in the Derby.

Last year 13 of the 20 starters in the Run for the Roses had a January race in their past performances. It should also be noted that 2011 Champion and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen makes a start next weekend at Gulfstream Park and as recent as Barbaro in 2006, the winner of America’s most prestigious horse race ran in the preceding January.

According to Daily Racing Form, Wynn Casino and Sports Book Las Vegas has given future win odds to some 320 potential Kentucky Derby starters with only 42 (13%) of those having odds of 85-1 or less. Two Lecomte starters make that group of 42. Exfactor at 5-1 in the Lecomte morning line and Hammers Terror (6-1) are both 75-1 to win the Kentucky Derby according to Watchmaker.

Interestingly, Lecomte favorite Shared Property is 4-1 to win Saturday, but has much higher Kentucky odds at 175-1 than Exfactor and Hammers Terror. If one likes to place future book wagers, there might be added value there.

Shared Property is trained by Tom Amoss (photo left) who has won two of the twelve runnings of the Lecomte. Amoss won the first Lecomte in 1999 with Some Actor and won again with Ron the Greek in 2010. Shared Property makes his third career start in the Lecomte after breaking his maiden at Ellis Park in July, winning the Arlington Washington Futurity (gr. III) in September before finishing sixth in the grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity in his last race Oct. 8. The son of the young stallion Scat Daddy breaks from the far outside in the field of 13 but jockey Leanardo Goncalves should have less trouble getting further inside because Shared Property has preferred to win from the back of the pack in previous races.

Exfactor has won four of five career starts including the grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and more recently the $158,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fairgrounds in December. Trained by Bernie Flint, Exfactor breaks from the more favorable four post with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. Exfactor will be making his first trip around two turns in the Lecomte, so distance may still be a question for the son of Exchange Rate, himself a winner of the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fairgrounds in 2000.

Hammers Terror has already won at the mile and 70 yard distance at Fairgrounds, but that was against allowance/optional claiming company. The Michael Stidham trainee makes his stakes debut in the Lecomte after also breaking his maiden at Keeneland in his second try last year.

Seven Lively Sins is the second choice in the Lecomte morning line at 9-2 and makes his third try in stakes company after finishing second in the grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill in October and fourth Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) in November. Seven Lively Sins is 175-1 in the Daily Racing Form line to win the Kentucky Derby.

Of the others in the Lecomte, only Alexander Thegreat (30-1 in the Lecomte morning line) and Adena’s Chance are not listed in Watchmaker’s Daily Racing Form Derby possibilities.

The Lecomte is a solid race on its own merit, but it could easily produce a Kentucky Derby contender to follow for the next three and a-half months. It has some apparent opportunities for those who like to bet Kentucky Derby future books too.

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