Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Louisiana Derby

Fair Grounds: The $1 million GII Louisiana Derby at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 10-40-20-10)

by Brian Nadeau

Bravazo and Miguel Mena in the Risen Star. Hodges Photography

#1 Bravazo (7-2): Streaking Calumet homebred has turned into a different horse this year for Lukas, as he’s 2-for-2 and enters off an upset win last month in the local prep, the GII Risen Star, so you know right away he’s going to hit hard. Versatile son of Awesome Again pressed from the outside last time but showed in his optional-claiming win at Oaklawn Park two-back that he can settle, and that’s expected to be the right path to the winner’s circle Saturday, as there’s a ton of speed entered. The draw works perfect, and Stevens was aboard for the win two back, and we all know that when the Coach gets them good, they tend to stay that way, so if you want your picture taken, you know who you have to go through; huge chance right back.




#2 Noble Indy (7-2): Up-and-comer was a solid third in the Risen Star, in what was his first stakes start, so there’s a lot of reason for optimism here, even though he seemed a little one-paced in his run to the line and wasn’t gaining on the top two, either, even though they were in a spirited battle all the way around. And maybe that’s why Pletcher, who runs two in here, adds blinkers today, in the hopes of finding a bit more stretch focus for a son of Take Charge Indy who certainly gives the impression there’s more in the tank after just three starts. If there’s a worry, it’s that the hood will have him a bit too keyed up, which won’t help his chances late, but if you believe, the price will be right to come along; would be no surprise.

#3 Marmello (50-1): The lone maiden in the field is a speedy son of Concord Point, but is entered in a more proper spot, an MSW earlier on the card (Race 4), and is expected to go there, and would certainly be triple digits should he start here for Yanakov; no chance if he goes here.

#4 Givemeaminit (20-1): Risen Star also-ran was a distant eighth for Stewart and will need a massive form reversal if he wants to contend here, which seems pretty implausible based on that run and his prior outings, which leave him far behind the best in here on figures. Louisiana-bred son of local legend Star Guitar was actually a close third to Sporting Chance in last year’s GI Hopeful at Saratoga, but that race seemingly becomes weaker and weaker by the day, as Free Drop Billy and the aforementioned ‘Chance have shown middling form this year. This is a barn that has outrun its odds in this race on more than one occasion, and this colt will make some money this year to be sure, but this isn’t the spot that’s going to pad his bankroll; not seeing it.

#5 Retirement Fund (12-1): The first of two for Asmussen bombed in the muddy GIII Southwest at OP last time, in what was his first stakes try after two wire-to-wire wins here to kick off his career, so maybe getting back to Cajun Country should help. If you’re still a fan, you’re getting your guy at a price, and obviously this son of Eskendereya likes it here, and just maybe it was the off-track that threw him for a loop last time, too, so there’s reason to think he could rebound. But that’s before looking at the prospective pace in here, which looks hot and contested, so he’s going to have to run hard every step of the way, and this time there are some legit Kentucky Derby hopefuls trying to run him down, as opposed to some maidens and modest allowance types; pop and stop seems likely.

#6 Hyndford (8-1): The second and less accomplished for Pletcher could be a potential buzz horse here, as he enters off a second to OP’s subsequent GII Rebel winner Magnum Moon, though it must be noted this lightly raced son of Street Cry (IRE) never really made the latter take a deep breath. Well, the acid test comes today, and while he’s tactical and could sit the right kind of stalking trip, he’s also spotting a ton of experience and has never run fast enough to get a big piece in a race like this. And don’t overlook the fact you could have claimed this guy for 50k two back, so while he’s on the upswing, this is not a barn that gives horses away, so to think he can compete here, off a maiden-claiming win just two months ago, is a bit of a reach; comfortable playing against.

#7 Snapper Sinclair (9-2): Underrated sort took all the worst of it in the Risen Star, as he had Bravazo draped to his outside the entire way, but to his credit, he didn’t blink and he lost an impossible photo, in an effort that built on his third-place run in the local GIII Lecomte two-back. Asmussen’s second is much more accomplished than his stablemate, and while he was on the lead last time, this outside draw and the fact he has rated a pinch in the past says he doesn’t have to be on the engine today, which is a good thing, as we’ve already mentioned the pace looks swift. Son of City Zip won’t be the 41-1 he was last time, but he could get overlooked again, so while he’s not at the top of the list in here, you could do worse than looking his way; figures for a share.

#8 Lone Sailor (20-1): One of the more experienced runners will be a big, big number, as he’s yet to run a race that would gain him even a minor share today. Majestic Warrior colt did wake up when second in a local AOC last time behind fellow rival Dark Templar, who isn’t a win threat here, but at least this colt has a stalking/closing style that fits the race flow. It’s not like Amoss to run them where they can’t compete, and the barn is having a banner meet, but this is a reach and then some today; no thanks.

#9 My Boy Jack (5-2): Stretch-running winner of the Southwest sure looks like he’s been maneuvered perfectly by Desormeaux, as all the speed and the long local stretch figure to hit this son of City Zip right between the eyes as he looks to solidify that his big win was no fluke. This will be the first time he doesn’t break from the rail this year, so he could find himself further back than usual while trying to get over and save some ground into the first turn, but with all the heat up front, it shouldn’t hurt this colt in the least. If you’re trying to beat him, then you’re hoping that the slop, and rallying inside on a rail bias last time, moved him way up, and dry land and that a new track today will derail him, but that last work says he’s sitting on go again, and the race flow sure says he’s going to be a real handful; mows them all down once again.

#10 Dark Templar (12-1): Versatile and well-bred son of Tapit looked good wiring a local AOC over ‘Sailor last time after being second to ‘Fund at that level two back and will look to get a decent trip from this outside draw, which could prove troublesome with a ton of speed going from his inside. He has shown in the past that he can rate and still run well, but he’ll have to do it today wile trying stakes foes for the first time, so there are some issues to be dealt with for sure. Walsh is on the verge of becoming a household name, and it looks like he has a useful colt on his hands, but that’s not typically a label associated with a Louisiana Derby winner; tough to endorse.


#9 My Boy Jack

#1 Bravazo

#2 Noble Indy

#7 Snapper Sinclair

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