03/26/2012 3:57PM

Fair Grounds: Louisiana Derby attracts field of 14

Lynn Roberts
Mark Valeski (right), second to El Padrino in the in the Risen Star, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Sunday's Louisiana Derby.

NEW ORLEANS -- The starting gate for the Louisiana Derby on Sunday at Fair Grounds will be crammed full of 3-year-olds. Fourteen of them were entered during Monday’s post-position draw, and if all start the field will be the race’s largest since 1962. But it seems fair to wonder whether there is much strength in those numbers.

Mark Valeski, the 2-1 morning-line favorite on the line Fair Grounds oddsmaker Mike Diliberto, definitely looked like a talented animal finishing second by a nose to El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes, his first two-turn race. But El Padrino is not coming for the Louisiana Derby, nor, it was discovered Monday, is his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate, Discreet Dancer, and the 7-2 second-choice in this $1 million Kentucky Derby prep is Cigar Street, who has won all of one race in a two-start career.

The lack of multiple top-class prospects helps explain the massive field, which includes horses as little proven as Flashy Sunrise, a maiden who was beaten almost 14 lengths by Cigar Street earlier this month. Mark Valeski, though, was lucky at the draw, landing post 8, just outside his entry-mate, Mr. Bowling, who won the Lecomte Stakes here but disappointed in the Risen Star.

“That’s a good draw,” said trainer Larry Jones. “We’ll be able to get out there and kind of watch what other people are doing.”

Rosie Napravnik, who won the 2011 Louisiana Derby with Pants On Fire, has the mount on Mark Valeski. Robby Albarado rides Mr. Bowling, who worked a bullet five furlongs on 1:00.40 in company with Fair Grounds Oaks starter Believe You Can on Monday morning.

Cigar Street landed post 4 for his first try against other winners. Because his blowout maiden win came so recently, on March 10, Cigar Street had also been under consideration for the Arkansas Derby and the Illinois Derby, but a solid five-furlong work in 1:01.20 Sunday morning cemented Cigar Street’s participation here this weekend.

Z Dager, second in the Lecomte and third in the Risen Star, drew post 11, while another local with at least a minor chance, Shared Property, will break from post 6. Afford, who got post 14, and Fire Alarm, who breaks from the rail, took the worst of the draw.

Pletcher has picked out Windsurfer, a Feb. 18 maiden-route winner at Gulfstream, as his Louisiana Derby starter. Windsurfer and John Velazquez break from post 2, while another Florida shipper, Finnegans Wake, has post 3. Finnegans Wake got to town early and worked five furlongs here Saturday in a snappy 59.80 seconds. Arm Force, another Florida-based maiden winner, breaks from post 9 with Julien Leparoux named. Rousing Sermon, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, is the only California shipper; he and jockey Mike Smith drew post 12.

The Louisiana Derby is carded as race 10 (post time 4:55 p.m. Central) on a 14-race program that begins at 12:10 p.m., and is one of three Grade 2 races on the card along with the Mervin Muniz and the New Orleans Handicap. The Muniz, headed by defending champion Smart Bid, drew a competitive field of 11. The New Orleans Handicap, however, looks especially appealing, with 2011 winner Mission Impazible scheduled to square off against Nehro, Nates Mineshaft, Toby’s Corner, Redeemed, Pants On Fire, and three others.

The card also includes three other stakes races, among them the $150,000 Duncan Kenner, a sprint that features the third meeting of the winter between evenly matched Gantry and Cash Refund.


Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Rousing Sermom , is by far the most proven Colt for the Louisiana Derby . The jockey change to Mike Smith has to be a huge plus , which I thought they would have made that switch in the San Felipe Stake . Never hapeen , but the talk was already out their . I have to admit , no jockey would have riden this Colt to the winners circle against Creative Cause . But I believe the switch to Mike Smith would have been better then , rather than now . Now you have a talented Colt that is a California Bred traveling out-a-state , and I just dont care for this type of angle . Not for a Win any-how . I seriously believe Rousing Sermon will defeat both - Mark Veleski and Mr Bowling the 1 1a entry . For some odd reason , I see WINDSURFER making a name for himself in the Louisiana Derby . Does not raise the eyes of viewers , but has been a tiger for nearly 3 weeks now , and Pletcher has to get him in a race soon , before he tears his stall down . His works have been more than ideal - nearly perfect , with nice long gallop out to show that this distance should suit him jst fine . So , since im not too fond of the entry , and im thinking Rousing Sermon just maybe a tab short yet , I have got to go with Windsurfer and roll the dice at 12 - 1 . W / P / S would be a good - take - chance - wager payinging roughly 26.80 - 10.40 - 6.60 ............................ So even lets just say a wager 200.00 W / P / S , if by chance Windsurfer runs 3rd , ya still should have enough to go out and buy yourself a nice Steak and wine and break even by taking a chance . If runs 2nd , you could pay two month rent huh ! If Windsurfer upsets this field , you could play the rest of the year probably off your winnings . If Windsurfer loses , then that does not make me too wise nor smart . This is horse racing , so we all know the risk and rewards this business brings . I would not bet on a Colt in this Derby that has odds lower than 4 - 1 for a Win ticket . I truly believe this race is ( WIDE - OPEN ) for an Upset . Just By Whom ............................................. I will not be able to respond to any remarks after this morning due to me flying to DUBAI from Lexington , Ky . I will be back after the DUBAI WORLD CUP . Everyone - God Bless , Be Safe , and Keep Baffert in your prayers . Good Luck at the races .......................................................
Rodney Dangerfield More than 1 year ago
I wish Mr Bowling wasn't coupled with Mark Valeski, you might have been able to get a decent price on him. The Jones's have been pretty tight lipped about him, and getting Robby Albarado again is a plus. Well at least a nice big field, so that should help with the prices.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Louisiana Derby : this race seems very Interesting in my opinion ! Of course - many El Padrino fans eyes will be on Mark Valeski for good reasons . That is if you believe in what ya seen in El Padrino . I myself was not sold . But none - the - less , has sparked many analysis reporters eyes . Has already ranked El Padrino in the top 4 on the Kentucky Derby list . I can not see this Colt being ranked above the likes of ( All Ready Proven ) Creative Cause and Hansen . I just dont see it , but im no professional analysis . O K back to the Louisiana Derby . . . . My opinion , there are seven Colts that I truly believe have the ability to complete the Superfecta . And I believe there are four that have a good chance at completing the exacta . ( Mark Valeski - Mr Bowling , Rousing Sermon , Cigar Street , Windsurfer , Finnegans Wake , Arm Force ) ............................... I am going with a Long-Shot at morning - line of 12 - 1 Windsurfer ! This Colt has been working lights out , and his gallop - outs have been so impresive . Very Impresive , indicating that a route of groud will be to his liking . Rousing Sermon , I liked this Colt alot last year , very game in Graded Stakes , but as a 3 yr old - in my opinion , has some-what lost a step it seems . But this will be his third race of the year , and normally that is the time they show best , so maybe he peaks in the Sunday . Cigar Street , has been raising many eyes thru-out their stable and analysis . Finnegans Wake , may be a sleeper with the likes of Dale Romans . I truly believe this years Louisiana Derby will be an upset - im just not too sure whom . I am not drawn to the entry of 1 1a for the Win .
Mike Lee More than 1 year ago
I think after a few sub par performances by Rousing Sermon facing stiff competition,shipping to Fair Grounds for the La Derby is just what the doctor ordered!...In a race loaded with early speed,most prominent Cigar Street (99 beyer) in last race,and Mark Valeski coming from just off the pace,Mike Smith may shuffle Rousing Sermon to the rear early,then make a late run coming down the stretch...ML
Lynn Spencer More than 1 year ago
Chris Baughman More than 1 year ago
There will be a lot of Kentuckians at the race as the Final Four features Louisville and Kentucky the day before. Should be a big crowd.
Chris Baughman More than 1 year ago
With the Final Four featuring Louisville and Kentucky, expect a lot of Kentuckians at th tte the race on Sunday.....
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
The point is : the size of field that they drew ....... The huge disappointment was the size of field that the Sunland Derby drew . At least here , many are willing to take a stand . Just think , before the Spiral Stakes , who would have picked Animal Kindom . So these are the kind of races that are exciting because at least it draws a full field , and who knows what happens next .
Richard Catalano More than 1 year ago
wow! what a disappointing field, i can't see any of these horses being competitve in the derby, unless someone other than mark valeski comes through with a really big effort. now the n.o. handicap thats adifferent story, good betting race with quality horses
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Because of the purse , why take a chance in the Wood Memorial or Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby or even the Toyota Blue Grass when there are already Top Notch Colts already Aimed for those races . This is a perfect Prep race for these types since there are no super-stars that have entered . The Illinois Derby would be another perfect example . The Question I have is WHY NOT TAKE ( Take Charge Indy ) to the Louisiana Derby or Illinois Derby where the company isnt so competitive . I am sure the owner / trainer have their reason , as a racing fan its mind puzzling
Kenny H More than 1 year ago
Because they want to find out if he belongs......and if he does...he'll get the earnings.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
They already have a general idea that Take Charge Indy belongs . What I meant was , since he is lacking the earnings big-time - then why not take him to a much softer Prep race to gather the earnings such the likes of the Louisiana Derby , Illinois Derby , or maybe even the Arkansas Derby . At this point and time , playing catch up and eyeing the Florida Derby in hopes of making the grade hummmmmmmm , that is asking too much . I can see ( MAYBE ) running second at best behind Union Rags , because I am by all means not too thrilled or sold on El Padrino . Many people are , I truly believe this Colt has so much yet to prove , and by all means does not deserve to be ranked above the Highly Regaurded Creative Cause and Hansen ! By No Means . Not Yet Anyways . Based on what - would be my question ! The Beyer Figures Are Abit Miss-Leading . So maybe this will show up what I my opinion is after the Louisiana Derby becomes final , and Mark Veleski does not run as well as El Padrino brought him out to be . Come Sunday , I guess will tell some-what more about El Padrino .
Julie More than 1 year ago
Should be an interesting race to bet.