HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2018 Louisiana Derby

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2018 Louisiana Derby
Photo: Averie Levanti/Horse Racing Nation

The Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby is the first of the 2018 Kentucky Derby preps to offer points on a 100-40-20-10 basis. This year’s edition brings back the top three runners from the local prep, the Risen Star (G2), and attracted the Southwest (G3) winner My Boy Jack.

There is plenty of talent in this field but no clear standout. 
So, can Bravazo make it two in a row after upsetting the Risen Star, or will yet another colt step up in a big way?

Laurie Ross of
Pedigree Power and I broke out the past performances and replays in search of a winner. See what we came up with, and then, as they say in Cajun country, laissez les bon temps rouler.



Bravazo — He ran his heart out to get the photo finish over Snapper Sinclair in the Risen Star. D. Wayne Lukas gave the son of Awesome Again a pre-race bullet breeze for the Louisiana Derby, and knows a little something about a Louisiana/Kentucky Derby victory considering he trained Grindstone. Will Bravazo take another step forward, or was the Risen Star too tough? Bravazo can rate or press the pace. It will be interesting to see what Gary Stevens does with the colt from the inside post. Win contender.

Bravazo — He's the gritty winner of both of his starts this year, including the Risen Star. That was a career-best effort, and the colt could either bounce or build off it, as Laurie already indicated. Gary Stevens hops back aboard after missing the Risen Star. The Coach has him sharp, as his last two works have been bullet moves. You won’t get 21-1 odds again. Contender.

Noble Indy — He played in traffic for most of the Risen Star and lacked running room in the stretch. He had his own private war going with Instilled Regard and held third by a neck. The rest of the field was backing up, and no one was challenging. Noble Indy should handle the distance. Exotics.

Noble Indy — He made a solid graded stakes debut in the Risen Star after being bumped at the break and, as Laurie noted, caught behind horses. He definitely gained experience from that race, and his figures have improved with each start. It would not at all surprise me if yet another Pletcher trainee took home some Derby prep hardware; however, I also believe Noble Indy had every opportunity in the stretch run and just could not do it.

Marmello — The non-winner is cross-entered in a maiden race on the undercard. I think he’d do OK as a turf miler. Pass.

Marmello — Just one question. Who owes who a favor? Pass. If there’s no bargaining going on here, then hey! I love the “go big or go home” attitude. Unless he goes in that maiden spot instead…

Givemeaminit — He broke at the back of the pack in the Risen Star and stayed there, managing to lose even more ground in the stretch, roughly three lengths. I like Dallas Stewart. He’s given me some great Kentucky Derby longshot exotic plays, but Givemeaminit will need a minute head start to win this. Pass.

Givemeaminit — He did not fare so well in the Risen Star, but I still really like this colt. I also like that Javier Castellano is back aboard. I’m willing to give the colt another shot as he has been competitive amongst similar types before.

Retirement Fund — He made a mild bid between horses in the Southwest but went the wrong way fast when the running began. It was his first try racing off the lead. The son of Eskendereya should handle the distance, but will he be part of a possible contentious pace? I’m not dipping into my IRA for a win bet. Exotics, maybe.

Retirement Fund — He did not appear to appreciate the mud at Oaklawn in the Southwest but should improve while returning to Fair Grounds, where he is undefeated. Also, Fair Grounds and Steve Asmussen tend to pair well together, with the Hall of Fame trainer  ticking away a 41% in-the-trifecta rate there during this meet.

Hyndford — Hey Ashley, look! Another Pletcher trainee headed into a stakes. He finished second to stablemate Magnum Moon in an optional claimer last out, and his stablemate mooned me in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes last week. This son of Street Cry should handle 1 1/8 miles easily, and his dam placed in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Exotics.

Hyndford — This is an intriguing one. Laurie remembered my commentary from last week, but unlike his stablemate, Hyndford is not undefeated. His maiden win was in claiming company, but his second race was a bang up second to none other than Rebel winner Magnum Moon. The pedigree suggests a later blooming type, but trainer Todd Pletcher must think he’s ready off that allowance race at Tampa.

Snapper Sinclair — I have to give this gutsy colt a lot of credit. He ran every step in the Risen Star with Bravazo breathing on his mane. Snapper’s won from 5 1/2 furlongs on the lawn to 1 1/6 miles on dirt (that nose loss was a win in my book). But now the son of City Zip has to add another half furlong. His pedigree and conformation say it’s a little too far, but he’s good enough for an exotic wager.

Snapper Sinclair—was an unlucky loser in the Risen Star after doing all the dirty work. Bravazo just nipped him by a nose, and it would seem that this colt truly has found a new home on dirt. The rider switch to Jose Ortiz can only help, but don’t expect to get such nice odds on this one as last time. The snap is out of the bag.

Lone Sailor — He flounders in the wake of his rivals and just isn’t fast enough to be competitive here. Pass.

Lone Sailor — He had a stamina-building seven-furlong work two back and a sharpening four-furlong move in his last. Lone Sailor did not fare well against this bunch in the LeComte (G3) two months ago but was a good second in allowance company last out after breaking a beat slow. The numbers don’t fit, leaving me looking elsewhere.

My Boy Jack — He brought back memories of Exaggerator and Mine That Bird with his dominant Southwest Stakes victory. The extra half furlong should help the late-running son of Creative Cause. My Boy Jack’s second dam won at 1 1/8 miles and placed at 1 1/4 miles. Win contender.

My Boy Jack — He really moved forward in the mud at Oaklawn when mildly upsetting the Southwest. It was a career-best effort regardless of surface, and he got a fantastic, ground-saving, rail-skimming trip last time. Considering that none in the Southwest came back to win the Rebel, I'll pass unless there’s rain.

Dark Templar — A well-bred great-grandson of Champion Personal Ensign, he beat Lone Sailor last out but was bested by Retirement Fund the previous race. Ehhh. Pass.

Dark Templar — His numbers have been solid, though not spectacular. Trainer Brendan Walsh and jockey Florent Geroux are winning together at a 30% clip. Also Dark Templar has been competitive against others in this field and other Fair Grounds graded stakes. Could be a nice one underneath.

Track bias

The track bias in the Louisiana Derby is…there is no track bias! Over the last 10 years, pacesetters, one run closers and everything in between have been successful.

Final Thoughts

At least three to four colts will want to be on the lead or press the early pace, which would set up the race just fine for My Boy Jack. He’ll have 1,346 feet of stretch to mow them down. Don’t fall off Kenty D!  I like Bravazo, too. He has the best pedigree of the pacesetting crowd to hang on for the victory. Flip a coin between these two.

This is quite a competitive field, which is just how I like my stakes races. Bravazo will be your likely favorite off his Risen Star victory. Snapper Sinclair is looking better with each race this year. Noble Indy, Retirement Fund and Hyndford are all in with a shot. There are a few front-running types in the field, but none of them are super speedy. The Risen Star splits were very reasonable, and I expect the same here.


 Laurie Ashley
 #9 My Boy Jack #7 Snapper Sinclair
 #1 Bravazo #1 Bravazo
 #2 Noble Indy #2 Noble Indy
 #7 Snapper Sinclair #6 Hyndford


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

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.

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories