Sunday, April 1, 2012

Louisiana Derby Racing Roundup

Former Kentucky Governor Brereton C. Jones has high hopes in his coupled entry of Mark Valeski and Mr. Bowling, the 2-1 morning line favorite, to win the 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

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.

With Fusaichi Pegasus as his sire and Tiznow as the damsire, Fire Alarm should run better as the races get longer.

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.


  1. Hi Calvin...nice piece on The LA derby. I also like Mark V, Z Dager (well, they are my MKB horses) and didn't know about Cigar Street. Will be watching this race with much interest.
    As always, it's nice to stop by and see whats new :)

    SR Vegas

  2. Calvin,

    I too liked Mark Valeski and I understand he may have thrown a shoe. However, he looked more tired than distressed at the end of the long FG stretch, comparable to CD. If his shoe was still hanging on then that is a different conclusion. Sometimes you just can't account for the vagaries of a 108 to one shot.


  3. SR Vegas, RonZ,

    Thanks for following the blog and contributing with your commentary. SR Vegas, it's always good to hear from you my friend.

    This year's trail has been "different" for sure with an unusual high number of injuries that sidelined some colts that may have had an impact on the Derby trail.

    Currently, Howe Great tops my list of contenders and I'll be watching to see how well the Derby hopefuls fare in the final preps leading to the first Saturday in May.

  4. Calvin
    sheesh, you got that right! name a few Algorithms, Sky Kingdom, Consortium, Discreet Dancer, So Brilliant and my best bet was Stephanoatsee as my 'long shot under the radar' pick way back in December.
    Oh well, we will see if they recover and go on to a late summer campaign.
    If they do, it could make for some interesting 4 yo competition next year. We can only wish.

    Looking forward to the preps in the next few weeks. I also have Howe Great in my watch list and have hope for Went the Day Well.
    Good luck!

    SR Vegas