Grading out last weekend's 2020 Kentucky Derby preps

January 20, 2020 09:26am

It was relatively quiet on 2020 Kentucky Derby trail with just one points prep to speak of. But I also noticed chatter from those believing the best 3-year-old prospect actually ran on the Lecomte Stakes (G3) undercard. A few thoughts on key races Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course...


The Lecomte Stakes (G3)


Winner: Enforceable

On the Board: Silver State, Mr. Monomoy

Distance/Time: 8.5f, 1:43.72

Winning Beyer: 89

Grade: B


Analysis: The speed figure will do little to impress, but that's fine given Enforceable's running style, running wide to pick off almost every rival in this field of 13. He, along with others on the board in this race, gave themselves a solid start and plenty to build on to open 2020.

Enforceable offers an impressive methodical, grinding running style. He improved his position at every call in the Lecomte, starting 9 ½ lengths back before cutting the margin to 7 ¼ at the half-mile mark, 3 ¼ after six furlongs and taking control by the stretch call. 

Watching the race, you could see his steady progression, which hit its peak when he went from mid-pack entering the final turn to just off the lead off the bend. This type of move has won several Derbys. Considering his pedigree, distance should not be an issue moving forward. 

Looking at Silver State and Mr. Monomoy, I wouldn’t count either of these two out in future starts. Both did most of their running behind horses, with Enforceable getting first jump on Silver State with his rally. Mr. Monomoy appeared to pass a distance test, finishing willingly once uncovered in the stretch. Both could move up with better trips.

Fair Grounds Allowance


Winner: Blackberry Wine

On the Board: Digital, Chestertown

Distance/Time: 8.5f, 1:43.22

Winning Beyer: 94

Grade: C


Analysis: At first glance, it’s easy to see why some came away considering Blackberry Wine's victory to be more impressive than some of the top Lecomte efforts. The final time was faster and the Beyer registered, for starters. But why'd I grade him lower than Enforceable? 

Simply, what Enforceable and his Lecomte company accomplished was much more difficult than Blackberry Wine's allowance test.

Blackberry Wine was left on an uncontested lead through most of his race, where he got to set moderate fractions. If the horse on the lead has any bit of class, this type of set up typically leads to a quick final time. Granted, Blackberry Wine showed heart and determination when he battled back inside of Digital after that one briefly took the lead in the stretch. However, he this was under ideal conditions to do so.

Finally, while many will hone in on the raw final time, I focus on finishing splits. Blackberry Wine completed his final quarter mile in 23.91 seconds, according to Trakus, which was faster than Enforceable. However, despite being fully extended, his final 1/16 of 6.42 seconds was actually slower than Enforcable’s 6.28.

This suggests that while Blackberry Wine has a dangerous turn of foot in addition to early speed, he may not be able to extend it as long as other members of his class. We'll learn more about him in the Risen Star (G2) when all horses mentioned here figure to meet.



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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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