Kentucky Derby trail: Lecomte Stakes 2019 odds and analysis

January 12, 2019 04:43pm

The Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes attracted a full, competitive field of 2019 Kentucky Derby hopefuls, with all 14 runners in the Jan. 19 race looking for their first stakes victory. Run at 1 mile and 70 yards, the Lecomte marks the first of three Derby preps at New Orleans' Fair Grounds. Qualifying points will be awarded on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Top 4 finishers.

Below is a look at the field with updated morning line odds from Fair Grounds:

1. Wicked Indeed, 12-1
(Tapit – Steve Asmussen – 2:1-0-1 – $29,330): A Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, Wicked Indeed won on debut Nov. 30 at Fair Grounds when up for a nose victory going six furlongs. Back Dec. 22, he stretched out to the Lecomte distance but lacked the same kick in the stretch, finishing third behind Tackett, another rival here. Wicked Indeed settled mid-pack both races. His Lecomte performance should determine if he really wants the distance, or if he needed the experience last time. Use underneath.

2. Malpais, 12-1
(Hard Spun – Joe Sharp – 2:1-0-1 – $32,200): Malpais posted a big 5 3/4-length win Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds while breaking his maiden at six furlongs, an improvement from a third-place finish on debut Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs. So far, the colt only has experience sprinting, though he could sit more forward here, as he came from off the pace in sprints when the fractions are swifter. Use underneath.

3. Tackett, 6-1
(Limehouse – Michael Stidham – 3:2-0-1 – $54,800): This West Virginia-bred has already won twice, as a maiden and in allowance company, over this track and at the Lecomte distance. Tackett broke his maiden by 7 1/2 lengths on the lead Nov. 24, then followed that up with a neck victory rallying from off the pace on Dec. 22. This represents a better class test. Live longshot.

4. Mr. Money, 5-1
(Goldencents – Bret Calhoun – 4:1-2-0 – $150,400): The Lecomte could make for a major step forward for this one, who came out of a 3 3/4-length maiden win at Churchill Downs to run fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In the process, he finished ahead of horses like Gunmetal Gray and Mind Control, both Derby prep winners in the new year. His previous two starts came at 1 1/16 miles, so this is a slight cut back. But Calhoun bases in the winter at Fair Grounds, and Mr. Money has a series of local works, including a five-furlong bullet on Jan. 5. Win contender.

5. Night Ops, 30-1
(Warrior’s Reward – Keith Desormeaux – 5:0-2-0 – $31,035): Night Ops looks to follow in 2018 Lecomte winner Instilled Regard's footsteps as a California shipper, though this one has made his last four starts in Kentucky. He was close to notching a win last out at Churchill Downs, where Night Ops rallied to finish second to Lecomte rival Admire by half a length at 1 1/8 miles. While no one in the field has a stakes victory, Night Ops doesn't sport any kind of win yet. He’ll need a strong rally to make it happen. Pretender.

6. Hog Creek Hustle, 12-1
(Overanalyze – Vickie Foley – 4:2-0-1 – $81,300): Hog Creek Hustle won on debut at Ellis Park and also won in allowance optional claiming company at Churchill Downs. He rallied both times but lacked that late kick in between those wins when 10th in the Iroquois (G3), his other Derby trail start. He only managed third at Fair Grounds last out sprinting the Sugar Bowl Stakes. This late runner could need a fast pace to run at. Pretender.

7. Roiland, 12-1
(Successful Appeal – Tom Amoss – 4:2-1-0 – $77,660): The Lecomte is Roiland’s chance to rebound from fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over a sloppy track. He made three starts before stepping into graded stakes company and didn't finish outside the exacta when working through condition. Outside of Indiana Grand, he passed a class test when beating winners Oct. 28 at Churchill Downs. He'll be another coming from off the pace in the Lecomte. Use underneath.

8. War of Will, 6-1
(War Front – Mark Casse – 5:1-1-1 – $131,569): War of Will is set to make his second dirt start in the Lecomte. He broke his maiden Nov. 24  when he pulled away by five lengths over a sloppy track -- the race was taken off the turf -- at Churchill Downs. Earlier in the campaign, he ran second in Woodbine's Summer (G1), fourth by three-quarters of a length in Keeneland’s Bourbon (G3) and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. War of Will has put in a string of sharp works at Fair Grounds for this spot. As for his running style, the colt came off the pace in his last two races, including the main track effort, but nearly wired the Bourbon. Win contender.

9. Mo Speed, 20-1
(Uncle Mo – Mark Casse – 3:2-0-1 – $56,851): Mo Speed also began on the Woodbine turf and picked up a mile win second time out. He transitioned to the dirt at Fair Grounds on Dec. 21 and won at 1 1/16 miles. The Lecomte could be a challenge, as he'll compete against a much larger group. But as opposed to a number of runners in here, he could sit close to the lead if not on it. Use underneath.

10. Chase the Ghost, 12-1
(Ghostzapper – Dallas Stewart – 5:1-2-0 – $43,077): With a cleaner trip and when stretched out to 1 1/16 miles, Chase the Ghost broke his maiden in his fifth attempt and was able to come out on top when battling in the stretch. That victory came at Fair Grounds Dec. 22, giving him experience over the track. He has a pair of close runner-up finishes sprinting and looks like one to come from mid-pack for a barn known for its longshots. Pretender.

11. Tight Ten, 8-1
(Tapit – Steve Asmussen – 4:1-2-0 – $98,500): Tight Ten offers quite a bit of stakes experience. He was second in the Saratoga Special (G2) and lost the Iroquois (G3) by only half a length. He came back ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but also hit the rail in that race. Tight Ten could find himself on the front end in the Lecomte if he breaks well from an outside post, with this another distance test in a two-turn Derby prep. Board hitter.

12. Plus Que Parfait, 9-2
 (Point of Entry – Brendan Walsh – 4:1-1-2 – $86,400): Plus Que Parfait appears to be an improving horse. He stalked the pace at Keeneland and broke his maiden by a nose at 1 1/16 miles while holding off a runner from mid-pack. Next out he was second by a neck in the Kentucky Jockey Club, rallying from far back over a sloppy track. Signalman, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club, had more seasoning with two Grade 1 placings. Plus Que Parfait has shown versatility in running styles, as well as a capability of going two turns. Vulnerable favorite.

13. Manny Wah, 10-1
(Will Take Charge – Wayne Catalano – 7:2-2-1 – $99,225): Manny Wah improved last out when second in the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds. He’s won up to a mile, but missed the board when stretched out in the Iroquois and the Street Sense Stakes. He’s against other non-stakes winners here, but will have to show he can move forward from the Sugar Bowl and handle two turns. Pretender.

14. Admire, 20-1
(Cairo Prince – Dale Romans – 2:1-0-0 – $48,060): After a green debut at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2, Admire was back on closing day and stretched out to win at 1 1/8 miles. He was just behind the pace and held off late-running Night Ops to win by half a length. It was a big improvement from his first race, and distance doesn’t look like a problem as he steps up against winners here. Live longshot.

AE. West Texas, 20-1 (Flat Out
 – Bernard Flint – 1:1-0-0 – $12,000): If West Texas draws in, he'll be taking the biggest step up of all the entries. His one race came Dec. 16 at Fair Grounds in maiden claiming. He was a seven-length winner on the lead sprinting six furlongs. While he was visually impressive, the stretch out along with the company makes the Lecomte a big jump. Toss. 

: This wide-open edition of the Lecomte includes a few horses who could take the early lead, but none who need it. Morning line favorite Plus Que Parfait is a neck away from being a graded stakes winner himself, while Mr. Money and War of Will deserve to be close in price. This race is all about isolating the horse you believe is ready to step up in his 3-year-old debut.


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