03/28/2013 3:32PM

Louisiana Derby: With full field, wide-open race is a bettor's delight

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NEW ORLEANS – Strange, this 100th running of the Louisiana Derby. The prep, the Risen Star, was won by the longshot Ive Struck a Nerve, who subsequently was injured and is off the Kentucky Derby trail. And since the Risen Star field found the first eight finishers separated by less than four lengths, five of them are signed up for another go-round Saturday. Why not?

Compelling, this Louisiana Derby. A full field of 14 is entered, and there’s something for everyone. From a betting standpoint, it’s the best gambling race of the Derby preps so far, with the invading Revolutionary the 3-1 favorite of track linemaker Mike Diliberto, who has only four others less than 10-1.

But, most significantly for owners, trainers, and jockeys, the Louisiana Derby holds rich rewards. First prize in the Grade 2, $1 million race is worth $600,000, and with 170 points on the line toward a berth in the May 4 Kentucky Derby, the winner’s share of 100 points is more than enough to secure a spot in the 20-horse field at Churchill Downs.

So, the race is a little like this city itself – strange, compelling, and with a whole lot of visitors.

[LOUISIANA DERBY: Get Fair Grounds PPs, watch video previews]

If anyone can empathize with a pub crawl down Bourbon Street, it’s Revolutionary, who overcame a nightmarish trip when knifing between rivals to win the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 2, looking as though he were trying to find a safe haven from drunken revelers.

Off since then by design, Revolutionary is a tough horse on which to get a read. While he did prevail under adverse conditions, the Withers field looks inferior to what he’ll face here. This will be his first start outside New York.

What he did gain last time, though, according to his trainer, Todd Pletcher, was experience, and lots of it.

“The experience he got allowed us to check off a lot of boxes: Can he handle a big crowd of horses? Can he take dirt in his face? Can he split horses?” Pletcher said by telephone Thursday. “Watching the race, I went from thinking, ‘This is a nightmare,’ to being very impressed he won because of all the adversity.”

Pletcher also will send out Palace Malice, third in the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star in his first start around two turns.

“I thought he ran well,” Pletcher said. “He was a little farther back than I anticipated. The way he’s trained coming into this race, I think he’s capable of a stronger performance than last time.”

Pletcher will not be here, though. He is remaining at Gulfstream to saddle Shanghai Bobby in the Florida Derby, so assistant Whit Beckman will supervise here.

Code West, second by a nose in the Risen Star, returns for trainer Bob Baffert, who thinks “the farther, the better for him.”

“He just goes steady,” Baffert said. “The distance should help him.”

The other Risen Star alumni are Golden Soul (sixth), Mylute (seventh), and Proud Strike (eighth), all of whom finished no more than 3 1/2 lengths behind Code West.

“We know we have to run good if we want to run in the Kentucky Derby,” said Tom Amoss, the trainer of Mylute. “This is a good spell-check to see if we belong.”

Like Pletcher, trainer Al Stall Jr. sends out two runners – Departing and Sunbean – and though both are making their graded-stakes debuts, they are in top form, have trained well this week, and were made late nominees to the Triple Crown last weekend for $6,000 each.

Departing is unbeaten in three starts.

“He’s always drawing off,” Stall said. “I like the way he’s been finishing. He’s been doing everything in hand. He just does everything so right.”

Sunbean, a Louisiana-bred, is a nose away from being unbeaten in four starts.

“He acted like he’d be speed crazy when we first had him, but he’s learned to switch off instantly,” Stall said.

Another live local threat is Ground Transport, 2 for 2 since going two turns. He drew poorly, however, landing post 13 of 14.

Outside of him is Nina’s Dragon, second in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate last time out.

“It’s going to be a tough post,” said his rider, Julien Couton.

Titletown Five is making his second start following a layoff of more than four months. He never has gone farther than seven furlongs but should at least be prominent during the early going.

Brazilian Court was second on synthetic at Ocala last time out, his second start since being claimed and his first try around two turns. He pummeled maiden claimers at Gulfstream in his prior race.

Whiskey Bravo was a soundly beaten fourth behind Departing in the Texas Heritage at Sam Houston on March 2.

Hip Four Sixtynine took seven starts to beat maidens, which he did most recently in a sprint.

The Louisiana Derby is the ninth race on a 13-race card that begins at 1 p.m. Central. Post time for the Louisiana Derby is 5:44 p.m., and it will be shown on the NBC Sports Network in a one-hour telecast beginning at 5 p.m. Central that also includes the Florida Derby.

There are three other Grade 2 stakes at Fair Grounds, beginning with the Fair Grounds Oaks, a major prep for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks. Unlimited Budget and Flashy Gray head that field. Next comes the New Orleans Handicap for older horses, featuring Mark Valeski, Graydar, Flat Out, and Bourbon Courage.

Following the Louisiana Derby is the Mervin Muniz Handicap for older turf horses, including Amira’s Prince and Optimizer.

Those four stakes comprise a pick four that has a guaranteed pool of $150,000.

But wait, there’s more! In celebration of this being the 100th running of the Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds will open the infield for a music festival featuring local favorites Cowboy Mouth and Flow Tribe and food trucks. General admission infield tickets are $25.

Jay More than 1 year ago
What a bunch of idiots.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Does dry bets allow wagering on fairgrounds.?i don't see it on the wagering pad
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Drf bets
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
no they do not
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Back to tvg
Gerard Doise More than 1 year ago
DRF channels Fair Grounds through Xpressbet. They are part of the Churchill Downs family, so Twinspires also carries them. I hate to see anyone pay TVG just to wager.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
BTW: For all of you Orb folks in the La Derby, I noticed Titletown Five finished in front of him last August in a Maiden race. However, in all fairness to Orb, Titletown Five had a couple races under his belt and Orb was making his first start ever.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
The Fla Dby that is...my bad...
Mark More than 1 year ago
Orb spotted them 3 lengths at the start of that maiden race . Watch replay.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
Hello Charles. There is a huge difference from a two year old racing, and three. Heck, some of the really good three year olds in the past, had poor records as a two, and some never raced. As a former owner, our experience has always been to wait for their three year old season.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
I agree. They are growing so fast at 2...they want take those new muscles and over-extend their skeletal capacities. I am not a big fan of 2YO racing. I find it appalling that the Keeneland meet will feature some of these 4.5 furlong Maiden races and some of these horses will actually seem brilliant winning them...and then you never hear from them again. I would like you to share some of your insight with me...if you would... If you have a "linkedin" page, send me an invite to connect. I will share with you the mathematics I have been dealing with lately. They are a lot of work and I am not sure how much longer I am going to be providing them. I acquired a small group of guys that are interested in these, and now we all copy each other on our endeavors. One guy is writing a book that should be released soon. I am sure all of us can benefit from each other's input.
Dennis Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Departing & Mylute are my picks the closing horses will be tough here at Fairgrounds luck to all HOT ROD
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
Mylute for my loot $$$..have FUN like me
B More than 1 year ago
I would be very surprised if the Derby winner comes from this race as I don't think there is anything special here. If I had to bet, and I won't on this race, I'd go with either Revolutionary or Departing.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
Here are the FPS ratings for the Louisina Derby. The number in parentheses is the length of the race segment in furlongs. The number that follows is the average FPS adjusted for variant minus 44 FPS. The number that follows that is enclosed in pipe characters ( "| |") is the estimated FPS at the end of the race segment. Therefore, the last number is an estimate of how fast the horse was moving when he hit the wire. Hip Four 69: (2) 14.2 |56.4|, (2) 11.5 |54.6|, (1) 11.4 |56.1|, (1) 9.1 |50.0| Palice Malice: (2) 9.9 |54.2|, (2) 10.3 |54.4|, (2) 10.1 |53.7|, (2.5) 8.6 |51.6| Previous: (2) 13.4 |56.9|, (2) 12.7 |56.4|, (2) 10.3 |52.2|, (1) 8.1 |52.0| Revolutionary: (2) 8.8 |54.2|, (2) 10.8 |55.5|, (2) 10.1 |52.8|, (2.5) 8.7 |52.7| Previous: (2) 10.1 |54.8|, (2) 11.1 |55.5|, (2) 10.9 |54.3|, (2) 9.2 |52.0| Golden Soul: (2) 10.0 |54.4|, (2) 10.6 |54.8|, (2) 9.5 |52.1|, (2.5) 8.2 |52.3| Previous: (2) 7.4 |54.5|, (2) 12.1 |57.7|, (2) 9.3 |49.0|, (2.3) 6.6 |52.1| Whiskey Bravo: (2) 9.3 |53.7|, (2) 9.9 |54.1|, (2) 9.7 |53.3|, (2) 9.0 |52.6| Previous: (2) 9.7 |53.8|, (2) 9.9 |53.9|, (2) 8.4 |50.8|, (2.3) 6.2 |49.6| Sunbean: (2) 9.2 |55.8|, (2) 13.1 |58.4|, (2) 9.7 |48.9|, (2.3) 7.1 |53.3| Previous: (2) 9.8 |54.1|, (2) 10.3 |54.5|, (2) 8.9 |51.4|, (2.3) 8.2 |53.1| Departing: (2) 9.9 |54.0|, (2) 10.0 |54.0|, (2) 9.7 |53.4|, (2) 10.2 |54.9| Previous: (2) 8.5 |53.3|, (2) 9.7 |54.1|, (2) 8.7 |51.4|, (2.3) 9.6 |55.8| Code West: (2) 11.0 |54.5|, (2) 10.2 |54.0|, (2) 10.0 |54.1|, (2.5) 8.1 |50.0| Previous: (2) 11.3 |55.1|, (2) 11.0 |54.9|, (2) 10.7 |54.5|, (2) 7.4 |48.4| Proud Strike: (2) 11.2 |54.4|, (2) 10.1 |53.7|, (2) 9.3 |53.0|, (2.5) 7.8 |50.6| Previous: (2) 11.1 |54.5|, (2) 10.3 |54.0|, (2) 9.5 |53.0|, (2.5) 8.2 |51.4| Titletown Five: (2) 14.7 |56.6|, (2) 11.6 |54.5|, (1) 8.9 |51.3|, (1) 7.7 |52.1| Previous: (2) 13.2 |56.4|, (2) 12.0 |55.6|, (2) 10.6 |53.6|, (1) 10.1 |54.7| Mylute: (2) 10.4 |54.4|, (2) 10.4 |54.4|, (2) 10.2 |54.1|, (2.5) 7.5 |48.9| Previous: (2) 8.8 |53.5|, (2) 9.9 |54.2|, (2) 10.2 |54.2|, (2.3) 9.5 |52.8| Brazilian Court: (2) 8.5 |54.2|, (2) 11.1 |56.0|, (2) 10.6 |53.2|, (2.5) 7.6 |49.9| Previous: (2) 11.6 |57.0|, (2) 13.6 |58.3|, (2) 9.7 |49.1|, (2) 5.7 |50.3| Ground Transport: (2) 10.5 |53.8|, (2) 9.5 |53.2|, (2) 8.5 |51.8|, (2.3) 9.1 |54.4| Previous: (2) 12.1 |55.2|, (2) 10.7 |54.3|, (2) 7.4 |48.6|, (2.3) 6.9 |53.2| Nina’s Dragon: (4) 9.8 |54.1|, (2) 10.3 |54.4|, (2) 7.2 |48.0|, (1) 5.2 |50.4| Previous: (2) 6.2 |52.7|, (2) 10.0 |55.3|, (2) 10.6 |54.0|, (2) 11.0 |55.9| To be honest, I haven't had a lot of time to handicap this one. I give the edge to Departing. Also watch the horses coming out of the Risen Star because that race was one big traffic jam. Of these, I think Mylute is the most dangerous because he ran a good conditioning sort of race by being up close for the first few calls, having been off for 2 months prior. To give you an idea of just how much of a traffic jam the Risen Star was, look at Palace Malice and note that he was 8th and 9th his first 2 calls and yet only 3 lengths from the leaders.
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
Great research, Chuck! I agree with your pick of Departing.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
What is FPS - feet per second? Also, if vertical numbers in a scheme like this should be consistently lined up, try using "---" to keep them aligned. Fake numbers used: XYZ: (4) 12.1---(2) 13.5---(3) 45.4 KJH: (7) 13.6---(5) 13.4---(6) 56.4)
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
As you surmised, Feet Per Second...
Matt More than 1 year ago
Nina's Dragon will overcome the tough post and shock the World!!
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
The post and jockey worry me.needs to tuck in and hope for a decent pace ,then the Red Sea needs to part.im rooting for the connections ala kieth desormeaux
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Two horse race...Departing and Revolutionary.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
The Fair Grounds Oaks is usually a very productive Kentucky Oaks prep and the NO Handicap is a very productive Stephen Foster prep