©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The mad stampede for coveted Kentucky Derby points continues Saturday at the Fair Grounds Race Course where Intense Holiday, the morning-line 2-1 favorite, heads a herd of ten young Thoroughbreds in the 101st running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G1). The winner of this race will receive 100 points and a guaranteed spot in the Derby starting gate.
Live television coverage of the Louisiana Derby (G1) will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network at 6:30 p.m., ET – post time for the race is 7:10 p.m. Let’s take a look at the race.
Intense Holiday comes into the Derby with a 2-0-1 record in seven starts including a narrow win by a nose in his last race, the Risen Start Stakes (G2). Intense Holiday struggled as a two year old and, despite his poor win record, he’s been keeping good company on the trail with the likes of Havana, Honor Code and Cairo Prince.
His narrow win in the Risen Star was the first stakes win for Intense Holiday whose previous best in stakes competition was a third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2).
Mike Smith, the jockey who rode Intense Holiday to victory in the Risen Star, retains the mount in the Derby. Intense Holiday has been working out good at the Palm Meadows Training Center and a recent bullet work could have him ready to run a good race. I look for Intense Holiday to be competitive.
In Trouble (4-1) ships in from New York for trainer Anthony Dutrow and he comes into the Derby with a 2-0-1 record in three starts including a 2 ¾-length win in the Futurity Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park last September.
After that race, Dutrow gave In Trouble a five-month layoff and brought him back in March as a three year old to compete in the Gotham Stakes (G3) where he finished a respectable third, just one-half length behind Samraat and Uncle Sigh.
In Trouble has the breeding to handle the stretch out to 9-furlongs and he’s been working out good at the Palm Meadows Training Center where he fired a bullet on February 12. He has room to improve in his second start of the season as a three year old and another move forward off of his third-place finish in the Gotham Stakes (G3) will make In Trouble competitive in the Louisiana Derby (G1).
Commanding Curve (20-1) was my long shot pick in the Risen Star and I like him in this race, too. He comes into the Derby for trainer Dallas Stewart with a 1-1-1 record in five starts including a sixth-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (G2).
Despite his sixth-place finish, Commanding Curve came into that race off of a 2½-month layoff and he has room to improve in his second start of the season as a three year old. And Commanding Curve has the breeding to be more competitive as the races get longer.
Master Command, the sire of Commanding Curve, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled an 8-2-2 record in 17 starts with $1,137,188 in career earnings. He made only two sprint starts at 6-furlongs, finishing second in both races, while all of his other races were in routes where he excelled at 9-furlongs.
Of Master Command’s eight victories, five of them were in stakes competition. His most notable stakes wins were in the National Jockey Club Handicap (G3), New Orleans Handicap (G2), Meadowlands Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G2) and the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (G3), all at 9-furlongs, and the 8½-furlong Mineshaft Handicap (G3).
Another move forward could, perhaps, make Commanding Curve competitive enough to factor in the exotics.
Albano (9-2) comes into this race for trainer Larry Jones with a 2-2-1 record in five starts. As a three year old, he’s yet to win in stakes competition, finishing second in both the Le Comte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G3).
Istan, the sire of Albano, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who ran his best at a mile but was able to carry his speed to victory in the 8½-furlong Budweiser Challenger Stakes.
The winner of the Louisiana Derby (G1) will receive 100 points while second place will yield 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points. Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
2014 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. We Miss Artie, 60, Todd Pletcher, $544,000
2. Samraat, 60, Rick Violette, Jr., $450,000
3. Hoppertunity, 55, Bob Baffert, $376,000
4. Chitu, 54, Bob Baffert, $440,000
5. Intense Holiday, 53, Todd Pletcher, $327,500
6. Midnight Hawk, 52, Bob Baffert, $320,000
7. Wildcat Red, 50, Jose Garrofalo, $410,000
8. Ring Weekend, 50, Graham Motion, $210,000
9. California Chrome, 50, Art Sherman, $182,250
10. Tapiture, 42, Steve Asmussen, $420,738
11. Albano, 24, Larry Jones, $150,000
11. Uncle Sigh, 24, Gary Contessa, $150,000
13. Vinceremos, 20, Todd Pletcher, $190,000
14. Vicar’s in Trouble, 20, Mike Maker, $160,000
15. General A Rod, 20, Mike Maker, $140,000
16. Ride On Curlin, 15, Billy Gowan, $154,387
17. Havana, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
18. Cairo Prince, 14, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $470,000
19. Kristo, 14, John Sadler, $56,000
20. Coastline, 13, Mark Casse, $129,679