01/19/2012 4:13PM

Fair Grounds: Lecomte the next step forward

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Seven Lively Sins, with Julien Leparoux up, wins his maiden race at Keeneland.

NEW ORLEANS – The Grade 3, $175,000 Lecomte Stakes anchors Road to the Derby Kickoff Day on Saturday at Fair Grounds, but do not expect any of the 13 three-year-olds entered in the Lecomte to return the opening kick for a touchdown. The idea here is not to fumble. Next month brings the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, and the $1 million Louisiana Derby is on April 1.

“It’s still just January,” said trainer Al Stall, who will send Seven Lively Sins out for his 3-year-old debut in the Lecomte, a one mile and 70-yard dirt race.

The Lecomte goes as race 11, the last of six stakes on a Fair Grounds program that begins earlier than usual, with the first of 13 fields scheduled to depart the gate at 12:10, Central. The Lecomte is the cashing leg of a pick four with a $100,000 guaranteed pool, a multi-race sequence that begins with a 3-year-old maiden route race before moving through the Louisiana Handicap and the Pan Zareta Stakes. Left out of the guaranteed pick four because of shorter fields were the Gaudin for older sprinters, the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley for older turf route horses, and the $100,000 Silverbulletday, in which 3-year-old filly Applauding will try to stretch her ample speed around two turns.

Seven Lively Sins finished second in the Iroquois Stakes before failing to handle the tricky surface at Delta Downs, checking in fourth in the $1 million Delta Jackpot. Stall reports that Seven Lively Sins has favorably developed during a short winter break, which is a positive, since the winner of the Lecomte will be a horse who has improved from 2 to 3. But which animal will step forward is obscure. At 9-2, Seven Lively Odds is second choice on the Fair Grounds morning line, while the favorite, Shared Property, is listed as a tepid 4-1 chance.

Shared Property exits the longest layoff of any Lecomte starter, having been idle since finishing sixth of 13 as the favorite in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 8 at Keeneland. Before that race, Shared Property sharply won his debut over dirt in an Ellis Park maiden race, and was a snappy winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity, but Shared Property, who drew poorly in post 13, shows only four timed workouts for his comeback, and trainer Tom Amoss readily admits the Lecomte is a stepping-stone kind of race.

Mr. Bowling also is making his first start since October, when he finished third as the 7-5 favorite in the Iroquois Stakes, but he is farther along in his preparations than Shared Property. Mr. Bowling has breezed steadily since early December after recovering from a minor sickness, and his Jan. 9 workout in 58.80 seconds is among the fastest five-furlong works at this meet. From the first crop of the sire Istan, Mr. Bowling won the Dover Stakes at Delaware, his only two-turn race, by more than seven lengths, and trainer Larry Jones thinks the Iroquois’s one-turn mile didn’t suit his horse.

“He didn’t really get the trip there that he needed,” Jones said. “The one turn maybe messed us up. He doesn’t want to be rushed.”

Ted’s Folly, an Oklahoma-bred, doesn’t seem to care about the number of turns. He won five sprints in a row before capturing the $315,000 Springboard Mile, his route debut, with a strong late rally.

Exfactor, a Grade 3 sprint winner at 2, will be making his route debut if he starts in the Lecomte, but a reportedly minor hind-leg injury has jeopardized his participation.

Z Dager beat a decent field of maidens in winning a two-turn race at second asking on Dec. 15 at Fair Grounds, and trainer Steve Asmussen hopes Z Dager can emulate Nehro, another Ahmed Zayat-owned colt who nearly won the 2011 Louisiana Derby the start after a maiden win.

Z Dager is coupled in the wagering with Dan and Sheila, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt who won a maiden race over a one-turn mile last month at Gulfstream Park.

“He’s a big strong colt who acts like he’s dying to run farther,” Pletcher said.

Hammer’s Terror is bred like a grass horse, but won his dirt debut in a two-turn Fair Grounds allowance race last month. Capetown Devil debuted for a $30,000 claiming price, but is unbeaten after three starts and also has a two-turn win over the Fair Ground main track.

“We’re like everyone else in the race,” said trainer David Caroll. “Trying to find out where we belong.”

LeComte S. (G3), Post Time: 4:55 CT Saturday

Purse: $175,000; 1 mile 70 yds

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Adena's Chance

G. Dorochenko

M. St. Julien

20-1

1

Hero of Order

G. Dorochenko

I. Diego

20-1

1

Dan and Sheila

T. Pletcher

J. Velazquez

6-1

 

2A

Z Dager

S. Asmussen

S. Sellers

6-1

1

Ted's Folly

W. Brown

J. Medina

10-1

1

Mr. Bowling

J. Jones

R. Albarado

8-1

1

Exfactor

B. Flint

S. Bridgemohan

5-1

1

Seven Lively Sins

A. Stall, Jr.

R. Napravnik

9-2

1

Alexander Thegreat

B. Barnett

J. Jacinto

30-1

1

Hammers Terror

M. Stidham

J. Graham

6-1

1

Chalybeate Springs

D. Lukas

B. Hernandez, Jr.

20-1

1

Capetown Devil

D. Carroll

C. Lanerie

6-1

1

Shared Property

T. Amoss

L. Goncalves

4-1