Wondering when 2012 Kentucky Derby
fever will officially become an epidemic? Look no further than Saturday’s 67th renewal of the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes
as proof that the madness has begun. As the first step on the Fair Grounds path to Louisville, the $175,000 Lecomte has attracted a full and interesting field of 13 sophomore colts ready to embark on a career defining journey. At a mile and 70 yards, the Lecomte precedes Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25 and the $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1.
My top pick for the Lecomte, not surprisingly, is the horse I wrote about
last week, Mr. Bowling
. A winner of two of four starts as a juvenile, the son of Istan began his career at Delaware Park for trainer Larry Jones. After tiring in his career debut, he came back to win impressively in his next two starts, including the Dover Stakes. In that race, Mr. Bowling proved that he can handle two-turns, when winning at the same distance as the Lecomte. The dark bay colt finished off the season in Churchill Downs’s Iroquois Stakes. Running greenly, Mr. Bowling finished third in the grade 3 event. Since then, he is reported to be really coming around for his excellent conditioner in New Orleans. At 8-1 on the morning line, he should offer solid value on Saturday. Robby Albarado will be in the irons.
Chief among Mr. Bowling’s deep cast of competition include the winner of Chicago’s Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, Shared Property
. The son of Scat Daddy is the morning line 4-1 favorite and will be making his first start since a wide and rallying 6th place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity last October. Beaten less than five lengths that day, the loss at Keeneland was the first in three starts for the Tom Amoss trainee.
Former Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Louisiana mainstay, Al Stall will bring Seven Lively Sins
to the Lecomte party. The impressive maiden winner at Keeneland has come back with a 2nd in the Iroqouis, in which he beat Mr. Bowling, and a 4th in the million dollar Delta Jackpot, in his last two starts. Leading rider Rosie Napravnik will be aboard the Stormy Atlantic colt.
Other colts bringing strong credentials to the Fair Grounds feature include Stoneway Farm’s Exfactor
and the Sooner State's Ted’s Folly. Exfactor is the winner of three straight including Churchill’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor in July, and most recently, the local Sugar Bowl Stakes at six furlongs in December. Ted’s Folly
has proven to be the star of Oklahoma. A winner of six straight, the Oklahoman bred son of Wild Tale is coming off his finest performance to date when he defeated a solid field in Remington Park’s rich Springboard Mile last month.
That is only 5 out of the 13 horse field, and honestly it would be hard to throw out any of the other eight. Yes, the Lecomte is loaded. The horse that can handle this field and hit the winner’s circle on Saturday will be well on their way to earning a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May