©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby will take us to the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana where Girvin heads a field of nine young Thoroughbreds as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 104th running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). Post time is 6:21 p.m. ET.
Girvin comes into this race for trainer Joe Sharp with a 2-1-0 record in three starts including a win in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) in his last outing. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GIRVIN brushed the inside of the gate at the start, saved ground on the first turn, settled off the pace, was asked at the half mile pole, rounded the far turn in the two path, was roused inside the three-eighths, rallied under a left handed whip in upper stretch, made a bid while switched to a right-handed whip at the furlong marker, swapped leads back and forth while moving clear to the sixteenth-pole and proved best under strong urging.
Girvin is a proven competitor on the Kentucky Derby Trail and with a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking his Behavior Index makes him competitive in Louisiana Derby (G2).
Tale of Ekati, the sire of Girvin, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 5-1-0 record in 15 starts with $1,182,992 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Tale of Ekati was 2-1-0 in three stars with a win in the Futurity Stakes (G2) and a second-place finish in the Sanford Stakes (G2).
As a three year old, Tale of Ekati was 3-0-0 in eight starts with a win in the 9-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a fourth-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. His other stakes wins include the one mile Jerome Handicap (G2) and the Hill ‘N’ Dale Cigar Mile Handicap (G1).
Tale of Ekati made three starts as a four year old but did not finish in the money.
Girvin has never finished worse than second in his three previous starts and I look for him to run good on Saturday. However, nine furlongs may be at his limit and I’ll be interested to see how well he handles the stretch out in distance.
A mild long shot I like is the lightly-raced Patch (9-2) who’s compiled a 1-1-0 record in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher and he comes into this race off of a maiden win at Gulfstream Park on February 18. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
PATCH was close up early toward the inside, came out three wide nearing the stretch to go after the leaders, caught MEANTIME in deep stretch and drove clear.
Patch looked good breaking his maiden in just his second start and he has room to improve in his third start of the season.
Union Rags, the sire of Patch, was a competitive colt on the trail to the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1), compiling an overall 5-1-1 record in eight career starts with $1,798,800 in earnings.
As a two year old, he won the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (G2) and Champagne (G1) stakes and finished second in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) stakes.
At the age of three, Union Rags won the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) stakes and finished third in the Florida Derby (G1) en route to a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He finished his career with a narrow win by a neck over Paynter in the Belmont (G1) stakes.
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Patch has the breeding to win the Louisiana Derby (G2). However, it remains to be seen if he can make the step up in class in just his third start to win graded stakes honors.
Guest Suite (4-1) comes into this race for trainer Neil Howard with a 3-0-2 record in six starts including a fourth-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
GUEST SUITE went three then two wide on the first turn, settled towards the rear of the field, was ridden along while three wide on the far turn, came four wide into the stretch, angled out near the three-sixteenths and improved position to just miss the show.
Guest Suite was only beaten by 4½ lengths and narrowly missed finishing third by a neck.
Quality Road, the sire of Frank Conversation, easily won his maiden debut, and only race as a two year old, in November of 2008. In his debut as a three year old, he finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January. He followed that in February with a 4¼ length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and in March, Quality Road ran to a 1¾ length win over Dunkirk in the Florida Derby (G1).
In late April, Quality Road developed a quarter crack on his right front foot and that prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby. After a three month break, Quality Road returned to racing to win the Amsterdam Stakes (G2).
Quality Road completed his racing career with wins in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), Donn Handicap (G1), Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1). He finished third in the Travers Stakes (G1) and second in both the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) and Whitney Handiciap (G1).
With a C Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating Guest Suite has the breeding to be competitive and I look for him to run a good race.
Local Hero (7-2) comes into this race for trainer Steve Asmussen with a 1-2-1 record in four starts including a third-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
LOCAL HERO was hustled to the lead, raced in the three then two path on the first turn, opened up a sizeable advantage, came under some strong urging in the two path on the far turn, was asked for more at the quarter-pole, lost the advantage at the furlong marker and weakened while able to just hold the show.
Local Hero took the lead at the start but did not have enough to capture the win at 8½-furlongs.
Hard Spun, the sire of Local Hero, was undefeated in three starts as a two year old, including wins in the Port Penn Stakes and Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. As a three year old on the Derby trail, Hard spun was 2-0-0 in three starts including wins in the Le Comte Stakes (G3) and Lane’s End Stakes (G2).
Hard Spun went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and rounded out his classic campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating, Local Hero should be competitive in this race. However, it appears that this running style on the lead is not conducive to him scoring the win in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
Honorable mention goes to Monaco (12-1) who comes into this race off a maiden win in three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. Here’s the video of that race.
Monaco is a long-striding colt and appeared to win with ease. However, the times were slow and he’ll need to pick up the pace considerably in order to score the win.
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 Louisiana Derby (G2) will receive 100 points, the second-place finisher will receive 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 twenty Derby qualifiers:
2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Thunder Snow, 100, Saeed bin Suroor, $1,621,063
2. Gunnevera, 64, Antonio Sano, $1,042,800
3. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $295,570
4. J Boys Echo, 53, Dale Romans, $255,000
5. Hence, 50, Steve Asmussen, $$481,129
6. Malagacy, 50, Todd Pletcher, $540,000
7. **Fast and Accurate, 50, $320,712
8. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
9. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
10. Untrapped, 34, Steve Asmussen, $210,000
11. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
12. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
13. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $284,000
14. State of Honor, 22, Mark Casse, $119,564
15. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
16. Master Plan, 20, Todd Pletcher, $214,700
17. Iliad, 20, Doug O’Neill, $200,000
18. Sonneteer, 20, Keith Desormeaux, $186,000
19. Blueridge Traveler, 20, $95,000
20. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
**Owner Kendall Hansen has indicated that the late supplemental nomination fee of $200,000 will be paid. Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm. Mastery is off the trail with a condylar fracture.
In addition to the current top 20, Churchill Downs has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to feature the Cattleya Sho Stakes and Hayacinth Stakes as two qualifying races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. The horse with the most points from those races will receive an invitation to compete in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Here’s the video of the Cattleya Sho Stakes. Here’s the video of the Hayacinth Stakes.
2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Epicharis (JPN), 50, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, $450,374
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $154,951
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,801
The connections of Epicharis have stated that they will skip the Kentucky Derby (G1) and may go to the Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).