Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Louisiana Stakes

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Louisiana Stakes
Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade 3, $150,000 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday drew a select field of seven older horses, who will contest 1 1/16 miles in race 13. The interest lies in a renewal of the good, old-fashioned rivalry between Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon, both coming off long layoffs.

Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast sort out the contenders from the pretenders. 

Laurie

Ashley

1. Chess Chief

Chess Chief loves Fair Grounds. In fact, he hasn't won anyplace else. Of course, the Dallas Stewart trainee isn't in the same class as Mandaloun or Midnight Bourbon, but Chess Chief did beat Pirate's Punch last time out in the Tenacious Stakes. The lone closer in the field, Chess Chief may not capture the victory, but he's capable picking up the pieces. Exotics.

 

Chess Chief enters off a “tenacious” victory on this very course last month. As Laurie pointed out, this 6-year old is a Fair Grounds specialist, but unfortunately that will not likely boost his chances of beating the big two, especially considering his run style. His speed figures also aren’t quite up to par to win this. Exotics at best.

 

2. Mandaloun

Mandaloun hasn't been seen since the Haskell Stakes (G1), where he won on a DQ of Hot Rod Charlie for cutting off Midnight Bourbon. However, Mandaloun returns to the scene of his Risen Star victory, and he has logged a consistent stream of sharp works at the Fair Grounds. Win contender.

 

Last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) aside, Mandaloun has been as consistent as they come, only failing to hit the board that one time. Although he has been on vacation, the Into Mischief colt has been looking sharp for Brad Cox in the mornings. He gets Lasix for the first time ever, an angle in which Cox notches winners at a 35 percent rate. Win contender.

 

3. Midnight Bourbon

Midnight Bourbon returns to the scene of his sole graded victory, the Lecomte Stakes (G3), where he bested Mandaloun by a length. Midnight Bourbon does his best work on the front end. However, he's a polite horse, always letting others get to the wire first. Exotics.

 

Like Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon is pretty darn consistent, only failing to land in the trifecta in the Kentucky Derby and in the Haskell (G1), in which Hot Rod Charlie interfered with him and caused him to drop Paco Lopez. The son of Tiznow owns the highest speed figures in the field, and, also like Mandaloun, will race with Lasix for the first time. Additionally, Asmussen puts the blinkers back on, which could keep him focused all the way to the wire. Win contender.

 

4. Sprawl

In the West Virginia Governor's Stakes (G3), Sprawl beat a less accomplished field than he faces here. When he can get away with slow early fractions, the Thomas Drury Jr. trainee can hold on, but he likely won't get that set up here. Toss.

 

Sprawl has consistently shown that he is not part up the upper echelon of his class, losing to weaker classes as well as some of the best in the division. He loves the Louisiana Stakes distance, but that’s not enough to make up for the rest. Pass.

5. Pirate's Punch

Pirate's Punch hasn't seen the winner's circle since September 2020, and the last time he finished in the money was a watered-down third in the Tenacious Stakes. Toss.

 

Pirate’s Punch lost form after stringing together back-to-back victories in the Philip H. Iselin (G3) and the Salvatore Mile (G3) at Monmouth back in the summer of that god-awful year that was 2020. He was most recently third behind Chess Chief in the Tenacious at Fair Grounds, but like Laurie stated, that was a weak race. Pass.

 

6. Warrant

Warrant has hit the board in all seven starts and earned his first graded victory in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) last September. He's been recording steady works at the Fair Grounds, but his times aren't as brilliant as stablemate Mandaloun. I don't see Warrant winning, but he could get a slice of the pie. Exotics.

 

Lightly raced Warrant never has failed to hit the board and has been well received by bettors in each start. He won the Oklahoma Derby (G3) in his last outing but would need to take another step forward to best his stablemate Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon. Exotics.  

7. Spa City

Spa City takes on a salty group in the Louisiana Stakes in his first graded attempt. He's strictly an optional claiming-class type with only one victory in six starts at 1 1/16 miles. Toss.

 

Tom Amoss must have been hoping this race would come up softer, because this is an ambitious placing for Spa City. This gelded son of Street Sense is a solid optional claimer, but unfortunately that just won’t do the trick here. Pass.

 

Final thoughts

Laurie:  Pacesetters and pressers have won six of the last ten editions of the Louisiana Stakes. In this time, surprisingly, only one favorite has won, and four have finished third. That being said, Mandaloun is the one to beat. He has the class and has finished ahead of Midnight Bourbon in all except one instance. If Midnight Bourbon can beat Mandaloun, this will be the time since Midnight Bourbon is coming off a shorter layoff.

Ashley: This race really comes down to the ragin’ Cajun rivalry between Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon. Both colts are at the top of their division, and I do not think their respective layoffs will be enough to give the others an edge. The two have taken turns besting each other, and I think it’s Midnight Bourbon’s turn to come out ahead with the addition of blinkers and lack of other quality speed.

Selections

       Ashley

       Laurie

3. Midnight Bourbon

2. Mandaloun

2. Mandaloun

3. Midnight Bourbon

6. Warrant

6. Warrant

1. Chess Chief

1. Chess Chief

 



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.

Top Stories

Lexington, Ky. Even with court fights and a visit...
Stilleto Boy , winner of last month's Californian...
Siblings of famous horses do not present a good be...
Horse racing has an impossible dream. Knowing ther...
The comeback of trainer Peter Miller begins Sunday...
x