However, the governor’s best prospect for the win is probably Mark Valeski who narrowly lost winning the Risen Star Stakes (G2) by a nose to El Padrino last month at the Fair Grounds.
Both colts are trained by Larry Jones who won the Louisiana Derby in 2009 with Friesan Fire.
I liked Mark Valeski in the Risen Star and I like him in today’s race too. Since that race, Mark Valeski has been working out good and a bullet work out on March 20 could have him ready to run a good race.
Proud Citizen, the sire of Mark Valeksi, won the Lexington Coolmore Stakes (G2) en route to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Fortunate Prospect, the damsire of Mark Valeski, is also the damsire of Musket Man who proved to be a good middle-distance runner that finished third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
The tail-female line (family A1) of Mark Valeski also has some good influence. Silver Fog, the fourth dam of Mark Valeski, was the fourth dam of Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol and the line traces to Ballet who was the ancestress of the classic champions Exterminator and Regret.
A long shot I like in this race is Fire Alarm (20-1) who has shown steady improvement since finishing third in his 3-year-old debut at the Fair Grounds in February. In that race, Fire Alarm was part of a coupled entry with Tiz Moe and the pair went off as the even-money favorite. Tiz Moe finished second, beating Fire Alarm by 2¼-lengths.
In March, the pair was made the even-money favorite in another race at the Fair Grounds but this time Fire Alarm turned the tables on his stable mate and beat Tiz Moe by a neck after a gutsy duel in the final yards of the race.
Miguel Mena was in the irons for Fire Alarm’s first win as a 3-year-old and he returns for today’s mount. Fire Alarm has room to improve in his third start of the season and another move forward will make him very competitive in today’s race.
Cigar Street (7-2) has become the “buzz horse” after his 13¾-length victory in an 8½-furlong maiden race at the Fair Grounds earlier this month. Cigar Street earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure for his maiden win which is one digit shy of the 101 that Mark Valeski earned for his performance in the Risen Star.
One never knows how these young colts will fare after an impressive maiden win but trainer Stephen Margolis must have a lot of confidence in Cigar Street’s ability to improve and move forward.
With Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense as his sire, Deputy Minister as the damsire and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew as the sire of the second dam, Cigar Street should like the stretch out to 9-furlongs. In addition, Cigar Street's second dam Solar Slew was also the dam of the outstanding Thoroughbred Cigar.
If Cigar Street moves forward off of his maiden win he should be competitive in today’s race.
Honorable mention goes to Z Dager (8-1) who finished third to El Padrino and Mark Valeski in the Risen Star. Since finishing sixth in his maiden debut at Churchill Downs last October, Z Dager has been competitive, finishing in the money in three previous races.
A bullet work out at the Fair Grounds on March 19 – the only bullet fired by Z Dager – could have him ready to run a good race.