Mike McCarty’s Proud Strike breezed a half-mile Monday morning in 50.40 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in final serious preparation for the 100th anniversary edition of the $1 million Louisiana Derby this Saturday at the Crescent City oval.
Proud Strike is conditioned by 11-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen, who is currently tied for leading trainer honors this season with nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss with 36 wins apiece entering Wednesday’s local racing program.
Asmussen also only needed only four wins at the conclusion of Sunday’s races to pass Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg and move into second-place among the world’s all-time leading trainers.
Proud Strike disappointed in his last start Feb. 23 in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes when he finished eighth after making the pace briefly in an unanticipated change of running style. The Smart Strike colt had broken his maiden with a 7 1/2-length tally at previous asking Jan. 12.
Out on the West Coast, Gary and Mary West’s Code West worked five furlongs handily in 1:00.20 at Santa Anita Sunday in advance of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. The son of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid is trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and was beaten a nose when second in the Risen Star Stakes.
Down in South Florida at the Palm Meadows Training Center on Sunday, Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice, third in the Risen Star when beaten a half-length for the win, breezed five-eighths in 1:00.80 for five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and will be returning to New Orleans for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby.
Also expected for the Louisiana Derby is WinStar Farm’s Revolutionary, who breezed a half-mile in 48.20 at Palm Meadows Sunday. Revolutionary, also trained by Pletcher, won Aqueduct’s Grade III Withers Stakes at last asking on Feb. 2.