What we learned: Pace helps Kingsbarns in Louisiana Derby

What we learned: Pace helps Kingsbarns in Louisiana Derby
Photo: Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.

Pace makes the race. After slow fractions, Kingsbarns finished the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in a strong manner to win and establish himself as a major name among 3-year-olds. The son of Uncle Mo catapulted himself onto many Kentucky Derby lists with the effort.  

Without a strong speed threat to challenge him, Kingsbarns took advantage of the lack of speed to set up his devastating stretch punch.

Kingsbarns broke sharp out of the gate under Flavien Prat, who noticeably urged him to go and clear his left side quickly. He made the lead before the first turn, but then Jace’s Road came up to his side and briefly put his head in front of Kingsbarns for a possible early duel.

Rather than engage in a speed duel, Jace’s Road opted to give Kingsbarns space and Kingsbarns re-established his lead as they straightened out for the backside. After slow fractions of 24.71 and 49.60 seconds, Kingsbarns enjoyed a comfortable one-length advantage.

As for the favorite Instant Coffee, he lagged near the back with only two horses beaten in an impossible position, given the pace. 

Also note Disarm’s position. He settled just at the back of the leading group in sixth. At least he had a slight chance from that mid-pack spot.

Kingsbarns continued to lead the field into the far turn by one length through six furlongs in 1:14.60. Jace’s Road tried again to go after Kingsbarns as they rounded the turn, and Kingsbarns repelled him.

In fact, Kingsbarns started to open up as Prat asked him for more at the top of the stretch. Although Jace’s Road did not fold, the gap widened. 

Meanwhile, Instant Coffee tried to rally on the outside and in the clear, but he failed to make a dent. On the opposite end, Disarm found an open path through the inside and started to progress gradually past other horses. But as Disarm moved forward, Kingsbarns built his lead. 

Kingsbarns already created a 4 1/2-length margin by the time Disarm reached Jace's Road. Although Disarm narrowed that lead to 3 1/2 lengths at the wire, it did not diminish the flashiness of Kingsbarns' win.

Now to discuss the speed figure. Kingsbarns completed the 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.33. The time earned Kingsbarns a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Keep in mind the slow fractions made it impossible to achieve a fast time, and speed figures are generally based on time.

Without a legitimate pace, it is hard to tell how fast Kingsbarns is capable of running because he did not try in the early stages.

Kingsbarns probably has the ability to win big races in this division, including the Kentucky Derby if given the right trip. But the question is how Kingsbarns will react to a faster pace around the best 3-year-olds, as the pace in that race is typically fast even in its slower editions.  

Considering the early pace scenario, Disarm deserves credit for making a move in the stretch and cutting into that lead, even if only slightly. Disarm came into this race ready to move forward with a winning effort. Unfortunately, the slow fractions and talented colt in front hurt his chances. But that only makes his price better next time.

Jace’s Road traveled about a length off Kingsbarns for the early part of the race, which gave him the best chance of any horse to defeat Kingsbarns if he had the right ability. But the son of Quality Road offered no response to Kingsbarns in the stretch and ended up losing his runner-up spot to Disarm in a double negative as he finished third. 

Although Jace’s Road might have the points for the Kentucky Derby, there are distance concerns with this horse as the bottom half of his pedigree appears tilted toward sprints or one-mile races at most. Down the line, he might end up as a contender in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1).

What happened to Instant Coffee? Even if Kingsbarns had the race wrapped up, Instant Coffee still failed to hit the board and finished a disappointing sixth as the 3-2 favorite while losing by 9 3/4 lengths.

Even with the slow pace working against him, it is hard to endorse Instant Coffee for the Kentucky Derby after watching his flat effort. 

This blog endorsed Kingsbarns for a win and place bet, and he paid $11 to win and $6.40 to place. Kingsbarns trainer Todd Pletcher is one of the most popular names around, and handicappers sometimes go out of their way to avoid his horses out of fear he might get overbet. But in this case, 9-2 odds were more than fair since Kingsbarns had talent and a clear pace advantage on paper. The public still favored Instant Coffee.

Kingsbarns comes across as a major contender for the Kentucky Derby. As stated above, the only question is how he would react to a faster pace, especially if Geaux Rocket Ride ends up joining Kingsbarns up front. In any case, this colt gave a nice display of his talent, and the future is bright for him.

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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