Head to Head: Lecomte Stakes 2020 handicapping

January 16, 2020 01:35pm
Head to Head: Lecomte Stakes 2020 handicapping
Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Fair Grounds opens the gates on its first of three prep races toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby on Saturday with the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes. A full field 3-year-old colts and geldings will contest the race's elongated, 1 1/16-mile distance, with the Top 4 finishers receiving Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Notably, the last five Lecomte winners were horses who sat third or farther back early. A last-out start at Churchill Downs benefitted four of those horses, while 2018 winner Instilled Regard came from California. The typical Lecomte winner has made four or more previous starts, and the favorite has won or filled out the exacta in four straight years.

Laurie Ross of Horse Racing Nation's 
Pedigree Power blog and myself sorted out the contenders from the pretenders.

LAURIE

ASHLEY

 
1. FINNICK THE FIERCE
 

The one-eyed longshot went his final 1/16 of a mile in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in 6.38, faster than the 6.41 of winner Silver Prospector. Brisnet Speed Ratings for the son of Dialed In are improving, and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes has been a key race for the Lecomte in recent years. I don’t like post No. 1 for him, especially because he's blind in his right eye. Maybe it won’t matter considering he’ll drop to the back and close late.

This Rey Hernandez trainee outran some huge odds in the Kentucky Jockey Club to just miss. I’d say the extra distance of that race was right up his alley, and he'll go the same distance here. As far as the post, I would argue that you cannot be distracted by what you can’t see. Sonny Leon retains the mount, but I’m hesitant to believe that “Finnick” will follow up his astounding last effort with another big performance. I’m willing to let him prove me wrong.

 
2. MR. MONOMOY
 

I'm not impressed that the half-brother to Monomoy Girl was out-gamed by a head by Lynn’s Map in his last race, slogging through slow fractions at Fair Grounds. Was the Brad Cox trainee tired from battling over a sloppy track, or showing signs of distance limitations? He could be winging it on the front end in a battle again. Pass.

Laurie hit the nail on the head in that Mr. Monomoy showed none of the early brilliance displayed by champion half-sister Monomoy Girl. While I am not quite enamored with him, I do have to point out that he boasts some of the best late pace figures in the field. I think that if he catches a fast track, we will see a better performance from him.

 
3. PERFECT STAR
 

This son of Into Mischief gives the dirt another shot after two turf victories. The half-brother to Grade 1-winning turf router Her Emmynency showed nothing in his dirt debut, plus has the pedigree and gait of a turf horse. Pass.  

I don't have much to add to Laurie’s comments except that if you adhere to patterns, then Perfect Star is in the busy part of his boom and bust cycle. I understand wanting a shot at the roses, but leave this guy on the turf.

 
4. SCABBARD
 

Scabbard picked a tough return spot and has been away from the track longer than than any of his  competition. On the bright side, he tries hard and has made up ground in most starts against some better horses than these. For me, he's a lower exotics player.

While he has yet to break through with a win at the graded level, he has acquitted himself well with a pair of places and a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. I do not expect a win but, as with Laurie, I have him pegged for the exotics.

 
5. EXCESSION
 

This son of Union Rags took his sweet time finding the winner’s circle. Next out, in an optional claimer, he showed a mild gain but wasn’t really in contention against Lynn’s Map and Mr. Monomoy. Speed figures have been going the wrong way. Looks more like a Belmont Stakes sort. 

Laurie, I have to agree with you here. Excession has the perfect pedigree to be a Belmont winner. Given how long it took him to earn his first win, I would say that a graded victory will take just as long. Hard pass despite the stellar connections.

 
6. NEW EAGLE
 

New Eagle fell apart like a soggy taco when he hit the stretch in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He looked good on turf previously. I'll pass.

Like Perfect Star, New Eagle is better off left on the turf than made to try dirt again. Neither of his previous attempts on the surface panned out.

 
7. HALO AGAIN
 

Halo Again is an interesting colt. He’s raced only twice, but won both times, once at seven furlongs and the Coronation Futurity at 1 1/8 miles. The Asmussen trainee followed the pace at Woodbine, fell back on the turn, but re-rallied and squeezed through an opening on the rail. Works at Fair Grounds have been decent, and Joe Talamo rides. Contender.

Not only is this colt undefeated, he has impressively managed the feat while sprinting and routing and on different surfaces. I don't like the layoff entering this spot, but Halo Again really could be any type. Contender.

 
8. JACK THE UMPIRE
 

This son of Bodemeister looked good beating up on lesser on the Delta Downs bullring. His off-the-board finish in the Sapling was a case of a very wide trip. This colt likes to win, so that has to count for something. Lower exotics, if you’re playing the field.

While Jack the Umpire certainly did not get a fair shake in the Sapling, I am less than impressed with the competition he has thus far faced. I find him out of his league here. Pass.

 
9. SILVER STATE
 

Hard Spun babies rarely win first time out, and neither do the offspring of Empire Maker. Yet Silver State, most of his half-siblings and his dam, the stakes-placed sprinter Supreme, all won early. In both starts, the lightly raced Asmussen trainee’s final Trackus figures were the fastest in the field. From the family of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, Silver State is bred to go long. Asmussen’s go-to guy Santana Jr. is aboard. Silver State’s last two breezes were brisk. Contender.

Silver State’s numbers are trending the right way despite tight margins at the finish. He won via dead heat on debut and missed by a nose in his last outing facing winners. Everything so far indicates that this colt could be a good one. Contender.

 
10. ENFORCEABLE
 

There was a lot of hype surrounding Enforceable early in his career, but the novelty has worn off. He made up ground in the Kentucky Jockey Club to grab fourth place. The 2015 and 2016 Lecomte winners hit the board in the Kentucky Jockey Club, too, so maybe he can surprise. Longshot contender.

Enforceable has had a lot to live up to ever since his hooves hit the ground. Unfortunately, like Mr. Monomoy, he has yet to emulate his siblings that include Mohaymen. That being said, he’s no slouch with a maiden win at nine furlongs and could eventually round into top notch form. Don’t get caught sleeping on this one.

 
11. BANGO
 

Bango stretches out, yet he’s lost ground in all but one start sprinting. Not a good sign. Pass.

The layoff is also a concern, as is the fact that his two previous jockeys have jumped ship. Pass.

 
12. SHASHASHAKEMEUP
 

The Keith Desormeaux trainee beat up on cheaper horses first out, then ran greener than Kermit in the Sugar Bowl Stakes, first climbing due to the mud, then lunging in through the stretch while wide. Unless James Graham sends him to the front, Shashashakemeup will have a wide trip. Pass.

The third of Calumet’s entrants, Shashashakemeup is probably my least favorite. Pass.

 
SYCAMORE RUN
 

After winning his maiden, Sycamore Run has been training lights out. What I don’t like is his wide post. Exotics, maybe, if he rates.

My goodness this colt has speed. Post 13 is a tough draw, though. He will either need to gun it from the gate and relax on the front end or rate kindly from the start. I really want to like him, but Sycamore Run is up against it.

 
14. LYNN'S MAP
 

Lynn’s Map, who defeated Mr. Monomoy last time, could scratch from this dreaded post position and run in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park instead.

If he runs, Lynn’s Map is likely to be one of the favorites. But I can't blame connections for looking elsewhere with a colt who has obvious talent.


Final Thoughts

Laurie:
Enforceable fits the profile of previous LeComte winners. Sits in third place or farther back through the first half-mile? Check. Has four or more starts? Check. Last start at Churchill? Check. Post No. 4 or higher? Check. Silver State has improving speed figures and should take a step forward. Finnick The Fierce is a fighter. Have to respect what he’s done with one eye closed. Scabbard is always right there. Halo Again won’t have any issues with distance and showed professionalism in both starts. I really like him but can’t pick them all.

Ashley:
For me, there’s no true standout here. There’s simply those with a chance and those with no shot. Enforceable and Mr. Monomoy have the pedigrees, but their performances thus far have not backed their breeding. Finnick the Fierce could be just another Patch, which isn’t an issue unless the winner’s circle is the goal. I think I have to go with the seasoned Scabbard here. Halo Again looks quite sharp and versatile. Silver State and Sycamore Run are the other two that really caught my eye here.


Selections

LAURIE 

ASHLEY

#10 ENFORCEABLE

#4 SCABBARD

#9 SILVER STATE

#7 HALO AGAIN

#1 FINNICK THE FIERCE

#9 SILVER STATE

#4 SCABBARD

#13 SYCAMORE RUN

 

 

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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