©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” takes us to Louisiana, Saturday, where Eagle will go to the starting gate as the 3-1, morning-line favorite in the 77th running of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
Eagle, an honorable mention in my 2015 Kentucky Derby Outlook, is a colt I’ve had on my watch list for some time and I’m looking forward to see how he runs in the Lecomte.
Trained by Neil Howard and owned by William S. Farish, Eagle comes into this race with a 2-1-1 record in four starts including a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last November where he lost by only three-quarters of a length to the current Derby point standing leader, El Kabeir.
Eagle has yet to win a stakes race and the Lecomte will be his first test as a three year old to see if he can be competitive at the stakes level. Whether Eagle has any classic potential remains to be seen but he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
Candy Ride, the sire of Eagle, did not race as a two year old but, as a three year old, he was champion miler in Argentina. As a four year old, Candy Ride was shipped to America where ran in three races. In the 10-furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), Candy Ride was able to carry his speed to a 3¼-length victory the in a record time of 1:59.11. During his racing career, Candy Ride was undefeated in six starts.
Mineshaft, the sire of Bond Holder, was an outstanding route racer who won races such as New Orleans Handicap (G2), Ben Ali Stakes (G3), Pimlico Special Handicap (G1), Suburban Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and the Jockey Club Gold Club Stakes (G1).
Brian Hernandez has ridden Eagle in all of his previous four starts and he retains the mount in the Lecomte.
I look for Eagle to run a good race.
The young colt that interests me the most in this race is Another Lemon Drop (6-1). I also wrote about him in my Derby Outlook and he comes into this race with a 2-0-1 record in four starts including a 5-length win running a mile in the slop in his last race at the Fair Grounds.
The finish time of 1:39.12 is not as fast as I like, but Another Lemon Drop won going away and he has a lot of talent that will blossom as he gets older and the races get longer. In fact, two races back Another Lemon Drop finished a respectable third to Dortmund who is the current Derby favorite.
Lemon Drop Kid, the sire of Another Lemon Drop, won the 1999 Belmont Stakes and the three-generation pedigree is further reinforced with the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Kingmambo, King of Kings, Miesque, Seattle Slew, Sadler’s Wells and St. Jovite.
The Lecomte will be the first test for Another Lemon Drop in stakes competition. But, if he lives up to his breeding, he should be competitive.
A long shot I like in this race is the maiden winner, Runhappy (8-1), who won his debut by an impressive 8¼ lengths at Turfway Park last December. He’s never run in a stakes or route race but he has good speed and his breeding suggests that he should be able to stretch out in distance and be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Super Saver, the sire of Runhappy, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and my pick to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby. As a two year old, Super Saver finished his racing season with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) making him, along with Street Sense, among a select group of two year olds to win a major end-of-year prep race that went on to victory in the Derby.
As a three year old, Super Saver finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and he finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in route to victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Broken Vow, the damsire of Runhappy, did not race as a 2-year-old but he was a pretty good middle-distance runner that only finished out of the money once in 14 starts and compiled an 8-2-2 record in 12 route starts.
At the age of three, Broken Vow won the Sir Barton Stakes. As a 4-year-old, Broken Vow won the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G2), Ben Ali Stakes (G3), R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Stakes and the Skip Away Stakes.
With only one race to his credit, it remains to be seen if Runhappy can step up in class to stakes competition. His sire, Super Saver, didn’t run in a stakes race until his third start where he finished fourth in the Champagne Stakes (G1).
Tiznow R J (5-1) comes into this race with a 1-0-2 record in three starts including an impressive 13-length romp at the Fair Grounds last December covering the same distance of ground as that in the Lecomte.
Tiznow, the sire of Tiznow R J, was a multiple graded-stakes winner and an outstanding router who won 10-furlong Super Derby (G1) by six lengths and the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) by five lengths.
The most notable 10-furlong wins of Tiznow came in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) where he defeated the European champion Giant’s Causeway by a neck. In 2001, Tiznow defended his title of champion in Breeders’ Cup Classic when he defeated the European invader and formidable winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sakhee, by a nose.
Broken Vow, the damsire of Runhappy, is also the damsire of Tiznow R J.
If Tiznow R J repeats the performance of his last race, he should be competitive in the Lecomte.
Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. El Kabeir, 21, John Terranova II, $330,792
2. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
3. Calculator, 14, Peter Miller, $180,000
4. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,136,000
5. International Star, 11, Mike Maker, $130,979
6. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
7. Mr. Z, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $473,326
8. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
9. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
10. Dortmund, 10, Bob Baffert, $300,000
11. Leave the Light On, 10, Chad Brown, $240,000
12. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $96,481
13. Upstart, 6, Rick Violette Jr., $300,000
14. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
15. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $221,827
16. Imperia, 4, Kiaran McLaughlin, $163,804
17. Firing Line, 4, Simon Callaghan, $100,000
18. Frosted, 4, Kiaran McLaughlin, $80,000
19. Nasa, 4, John Servis, $40,000
20. Rock Shandy, 4, Peter Miller, $38,000