03/27/2010 6:19PM

Fair Grounds: Pletcher, Pletcher -- and Pletcher


Two days, four Fair Grounds stakes wins for trainer Todd Pletcher. What's more, he just swept all three of the FG G2s of the meet, taking the NO 'Cap, the Muniz, and the La. Derby consecutively. Wow.

Not favored Discreetly Mine but Mission Impazible who came through for Pletcher. Mission Impazible broke on top, responded to a rating hold, then got a perfect pocket trip the rest of the way. He never showed a huge turn of foot, but finished steadily while clear on the outside in the stretch, and was going away at the finish. He and third-place Drosselmeyer galloped out best.

Wow Wow Wow, who seemed a certain pace factor, seemed to break all right, but was no early pace factor at all. And in the end, the fractions here were sensible. I missed the mile split, but the others were:

23.55, 47.89, and 1:12.07 on the way to a 1:50.32 for 9 furlongs.

By comparison, New Orleans Handicap two races earlier:
23.65, 47.11, 1:11.73, 1:49.33.

So, the first quarter, with horses battling for position, was quick in the La Derby, but the middle of the race was quite slow, which had to hurt the closers. Another point of comparison was the Crescent City Derby for La-breds, an 8.5 furlong race where the 6fs split was 1:11.83, .24 faster than the La. Derby. And again: No real closer has won a dirt race here either of the two racing days this week. The track has not looked or felt biased, but closers just are not making progress.

Stay Put loomed at the quarter pole, but could make nothing like a dent on the top 4 in the final three-sixteenths. Ron the Greek followed him home, just like in the Risen Star. Fly Down, for Zito, was never a factor.

A Little Warm, debuting at two turns, held quite well for a close second, but was wearing down in the final yards, and probably had circumstances in his favor. Discreetly Mine (4th) went evenly, probably prefers a little less distance. And I still would like to see Drosselmeyer (3rd) get a clean trip. He was asked for run to get position out of the gate, then dragged back before the first turn to avoid being hung wide. Had a nice run down the backstretch, but jock went inside (have no problem with that) into the far turn, and that didn't work so well. A Little Warm closed off the rail turning for home, and when Drosselmeyer hunted room on the outside, he found fading Wow Wow Wow scrumming with Mission Impazible. It was back down to the rail, when didn't really open up till the final sixteenth, and Drossel doesn't accelerate quickly enough for that. He was gaining at the end, and as mentioned above, galloped out well.

Final La Derby verdict? Decent race -- not great, not terrible.