Brian’s Derby Preps: The Lecomte

Fair Grounds: The Grade III, $200,000 Lecomte at 1 mile and 70 yards

#1 Roman Unbridled: Delta invader ran off with the Big Drama Stakes last time by 8 ½ lengths at 7F’s, but it’s worth noting that is a two-turn race, which gives him a leg up on most in here. Tactical sort wired at Delta but didn’t go fast early, so with other speed signed up to his outside, he’ll probably just use this ground-saving post and tuck in just behind the early leaders. Son of Roman Ruler is bred to handle this middle distance route, should offer a hint of value, and rates a contender in a modest renewal of this GIII; worth a look in all the slots.

#2 Rainbow Trip: Longshot has been turfing of late and his four dirt runs to start his career leave a lot to be desired. Of course, he might simply be a better, more mature horse now than he was then, and dad Sightseeing certainly relished the main track, but until he proves it, he’s tough to endorse; tough to tout.

#3 Got Shades: Speaking of turf runners, this son of Pollard’s Vision has run exclusively on the grass in his five-race career and will make his dirt debut off a solid but troubled fifth in the BC Juvenile Turf. Dad won the Illinois Derby for Pletcher a few years back, so the pedigree is there to handle the surface, as is seemingly the talent, as this colt won a minor stakes at Louisiana Downs last summer. We’ve already mentioned that this isn’t the saltiest GIII you’re ever going to see, so there’s no reason you can’t look this way at a nice number; price players have their hero.

#4 Gold Hawk: The lone track/distance winner puts his 2-for-2 record on the line as he gets the proverbial acid test to see where he shakes out in the local 3yo stakes ranks. Of course, to be fair, this isn’t the toughest Lecomte we’ve ever seen, so it’s not like he goes to the top of the pecking order with a win, though there’s no doubt he’s the most exciting prospect entered. Bred in the purple, as he’s by Empire Maker out of Caressing, who shocked the BC Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs in 2000, so the sky certainly appears the limit, and his stalking style gives the impression he’ll trip out beautifully from just off the pace; clearly the one to beat.

#5 Smarty’s Echo: Tricky read has run on dirt once, and that was when he was 10th in the BC Juvenile, so you’re allowed to forgive that effort, which came against some of the best of his generation. Son of Derby winner Smarty Jones showed good turf/Poly form prior to that, including a big second in Keeneland’s GI Breeders’ Futurity, so there’s some quality here to be sure. His local works have been nothing short of sensational and he adds blinkers today, which should have him in the right spot off the far turn, so from there it’s just a matter of whether or not he’s good enough; the wildcard has his merits.

#6 Albano: Homebred looked good winning the local Sugar Bowl at 6F’s in his last start and now will try to stretch out as he makes his two-turn debut. Son of Istan is bred for this and trainer Jones certainly knows what to do with a good 3yo, so you better take notice here. The issue, however, is his style, as he wants to be on or near the lead, and with some pure speed to his outside, that’s not a recipe for success. If he can relax a tad and settle just off the pace, he’s got a huge chance, but the race flow might play against him today; siding against.

#7 Vicar’s In Trouble: Speedster hit conventional dirt for the first time here last month and all he did was wire a La.-bred 6F MSW by 13 widening lengths over a “good” track in what was a real “wow” effort, though obviously he steps way up and meets open stakes foes today. Dad Vicar was a two-turn stud back in his day, so he’s bred for this trip, but with  a possible bounce in the works, speed to his inside, and some very capable stalkers, the gut says he’s going to blink when the real running begins; making him prove it.

#8 Silent Ruler: Deserved longshot has yet to officially win a race, though he did break his maiden over the track/distance two-back by 3, only to be disqualified for bad behavior in the stretch. Roman Ruler colt bombed last time with no excuse in a slow MSW when a disappointing third, and this just seems like way too tough of a spot for a horse still trying to get his picture taken for the first time; easy toss.

#9 Plug Catcher: Intriguing price player wasn’t far behind ‘Hawk when third in his seasonal bow last month and now takes the blinkers off in the second start of his form cycle. The third son of Roman Ruler in here goes for a Calhoun barn that is loaded with 3yo prospects, so it’s nice to see the confident move to send him here, and with just three starts under his belt, he’s got plenty of room to improve. The draw isn’t ideal, but the pace should flatter his stalking style, so if he can work out a trip. there’s no reason he can’t turn the tables on the favorite; don’t ignore.

Selections:

#4 Gold Hawk

#9 Plug Catcher

#5 Smarty’s Echo

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