Kentucky Derby prep: Louisiana Derby odds and analysis

Kentucky Derby prep: Louisiana Derby odds and analysis
Photo: Carson Blevins / Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby, which will be run Saturday, is the final official prep races at Fair Grounds on the road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby. The 1 3/16-mile race drew a field of 12 3-year-olds who will compete for the 100-40-30-20-10 points that go to the top five eligible finishers.

Instant Coffee is the 2-1 morning line favorite, and he leads the field with 32 qualifying points for the first Saturday in May. That is probably enough points to put him in the starting gate for the big race, but the rest of the 3-year-olds will need to run well to make it into the field.

Here is a full-field analysis for the Louisiana Derby, which is scheduled as race 12 of 14 with post time set for 6:42 p.m. EDT. Each horse is shown with the official track morning-line odds, his sire, trainer, jockey, record, purse earnings and Derby qualifying points.

1. Shopper’s Revenge (12-1, Tapit, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 3: 1-2-0, $98,800, 0 Derby points) Shopper’s Revenge is a well-bred son of Tapit and Stopchargingmaria who was a multi-grade one winner of more than $3 million. He broke his maiden in his second start at Oaklawn Park and then finished second in an allowance in Arkansas. This will be his first start on the Derby trail or any other stakes race. Toss.

2. Instant Coffee (2-1, Bolt d’Oro, Brad Cox, Luis Saez, 4: 3-0-0, $442,815, 32 Derby points) Instant Coffee already has two wins on the Derby trail in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) as a 2-year-old and then at Fair Grounds in the Lecomte (G3) in his 2023 debut. His speed figures took a big jump forward when he drew off to win the Lecomte over Confidence Game, who came back to win the Rebel (G2). Once again, he will be racing at his winter home base, and he should handle the added distance. Top choice.

3. Curly Jack (12-1, Good Magic, Tom Amoss, Edgar Morales, 7: 2-2-0, $421,580, 17 Derby points) Curly Jack is one of three horses in this field who has already won on the Derby trail. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Risen Star (G2) last month but ran a disappointing eighth. He picked up his training right after that race and will need to get back to his last year’s form, when he had a pair of wins and seconds. Live long shot.

4. Sun Thunder (5-1, Into Mischief, Ken McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 4: 1-1-1, $181,250, 24 Derby points) Sun Thunder ran a big race in the Risen Star when he had to rally from the back of that large field. He made up plenty of ground getting to the lead in the stretch but was run down by Angel of Empire. It is risky to play deep closers such as Sun Thunder because in a big field there are so many chances for a bad trip. But Sun Thunder should do well with the added distance, and he already showed a liking for the Fair Grounds. Use underneath.

5. Disarm (10-1, Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen, Joel Rosario, 3: 1-1-1, $90,350, 0 Derby points) Disarm was an impressive winner at Saratoga when he broke his maiden by more than six lengths going seven furlongs, but then he did not race again until February. At Oaklawn Park he stretched out to a mile in an allowance as a heavy favorite and finished second in a field of seven after a slow start. Time is running out on the Derby trail, so Disarm will need to prove that he can handle the distance and the step up in class. Toss.

6. Kingsbarns (6-1, Uncle Mo, Todd Pletcher, Flavien Prat, 2: 2-0-0, $57,300, 0 Derby points) Kingsbarns won his only two starts, which were in Florida for Todd Pletcher. First, he broke his maiden in a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park and then went two turns in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance. The $800,000 purchase as a 2-year-old is out of a mare who was graded stakes-placed going longer distances. In a field that is lacking in early speed, Kingsbarns should be able to get to the lead. Win contender.

7. Cagliostro (12-1, Upstart, Cherie DeVaux, Cristian Torres, 3: 1-0-1, $40,600, 0 Derby points) Cagliostro moved from his first start at Saratoga to Fair Grounds, where he broke his maiden in January. He then was second in an allowance behind Denington after having the lead at the stretch call. That race got very high speed figures that are competitive with the top-rated horses in this field. But the class challenge is significant, and I don’t like Denington either. Toss.

8. Single Ruler (15-1, Empire Maker, Keith Desormeaux, David Cohen, 6: 1-0-1, $55,974, 5 Derby points) Single Ruler needed five starts to break his maiden, which he did at Fair Grounds going 1 1/16 miles. He then tried to make the move from maiden racing to the Derby trail and finished fifth in the Risen Star after a wide trip around the final turn. Toss.

9. Tapit’s Conquest (10-1, Tapit, Brad Cox., Manny Franco, 4: 1-0-2, $119,000, 10 Derby points) Tapit’s Conquest is the second Brad Cox trainee in the Louisiana Derby. His last start was in the Risen Star, where he finished fourth behind a strong top three. He also had to go wide turning into the stretch. Live long shot.

10. Denington (12-1, Gun Runner, Ken McPeek, Junior Alvarado, 8: 2-1-1, $168,695, 8 Derby points) Denington is the most experienced horse in the field with eight starts beginning during the summer at Ellis Park and three starts on the Derby trail. He earned Derby points in each of those races, twice in January in the Smarty Jones and the Lecomte. Last month Denington won that allowance race against Cagliostro at Fair Grounds. The field is large in the Louisiana Derby, and the competition is stronger. Toss.

11. Jace’s Road (12-1, Quality Road, Brad Cox., Florent Geroux, 5: 2-0-1, $138,050, 15 Derby points) Jace’s Road is the third Brad Cox runner in this field. He won the Gun Runner at Fair Grounds in December and then caught a sloppy track for the second time in the Southwest (G3), which for the second time was not to his liking. Win contender.

12. Baseline Beater (20-1, Flatter, Neil Pessin, Corey Lanerie, 5: 1-1-0, $64,338, 0 Derby points) Baseline Beater broke his maiden in his fifth start at Fair Grounds last month. He is a deep closer, and after breaking from the far outside he will be at the back of this large field where he will have to work out a favorable trip in his stakes debut. Toss.

Summary: Another big field was drawn as the Derby points have increased again, and for most of the horses this is their last or only chance to get into the Run for the Roses.

Preference goes to Instant Coffee, Curly Jack and Jace’s Road since they are proven winners on the Derby trail. Add in Tapit’s Conquest, Kingsbarns and Sun Thunder, and there is a list of contenders to use on top and in the exotics.

The three Brad Cox runners must be used as win contenders. Instant Coffee is ranked as the second best 3-year-old in the country behind only Forte. Jace’s Road showed a strong dislike of sloppy tracks, so if the Fair Grounds surface is fast expect a return to his best form. With a better and possibly ground-saving trip, Tapit’s Conquest is threat to win.

2023 Louisiana Derby G2

Post Silks Horse / Sire Rating Trainer / Jockey Last Start / Next Start HRN
1 Horse Silk Shopper's Revenge Shopper's Revenge
5.89 Steven M. Asmussen
Ricardo Santana, Jr.
2nd, OP AlwOC (2/18/23-R6) 12-1
Last Race 2nd, OP AlwOC (2/18/23-R6)
2 Horse Silk Instant Coffee Instant Coffee
Bolt d'Oro
6.52 Brad H. Cox
Luis Saez
1st, 2023 Lecomte G3 2-1
Last Race 1st, 2023 Lecomte G3
3 Horse Silk Curly Jack Curly Jack
Good Magic
6.83 Thomas M. Amoss
Edgar Morales
8th, 2023 Risen Star G2 12-1
Last Race 8th, 2023 Risen Star G2
4 Horse Silk Sun Thunder Sun Thunder
Into Mischief
5.42 Kenneth G. McPeek
Brian J. Hernandez, Jr.
2nd, 2023 Risen Star G2 5-1
Last Race 2nd, 2023 Risen Star G2
5 Horse Silk Disarm Disarm
Gun Runner
6.03 Steven M. Asmussen
Joel Rosario
2nd, OP AlwOC (2/19/23-R8) 10-1
Last Race 2nd, OP AlwOC (2/19/23-R8)
6 Horse Silk Kingsbarns Kingsbarns
Uncle Mo
5.27 Todd A. Pletcher
Flavien Prat
1st, Tam AlwOC (2/12/23-R6) 6-1
Last Race 1st, Tam AlwOC (2/12/23-R6)
7 Horse Silk Cagliostro Cagliostro
3.79 Cherie DeVaux
Cristian A. Torres
2nd, FG AlwOC (2/18/23-R8) 12-1
Last Race 2nd, FG AlwOC (2/18/23-R8)
8 Horse Silk Single Ruler Single Ruler
Empire Maker
3.79 J. Keith Desormeaux
David Cohen
5th, 2023 Risen Star G2 15-1
Last Race 5th, 2023 Risen Star G2
9 Horse Silk Tapit's Conquest Tapit's Conquest
6.45 Brad H. Cox
Manuel Franco
4th, 2023 Risen Star G2 10-1
Last Race 4th, 2023 Risen Star G2
10 Horse Silk Denington Denington
Gun Runner
5.71 Kenneth G. McPeek
Junior Alvarado
1st, FG AlwOC (2/18/23-R8) 12-1
Last Race 1st, FG AlwOC (2/18/23-R8)
11 Horse Silk Jace's Road Jace's Road
Quality Road
6.21 Brad H. Cox
Florent Geroux
5th, 2023 Southwest Stakes G3 12-1
Last Race 5th, 2023 Southwest Stakes G3
12 Horse Silk Baseline Beater Baseline Beater
0.00 Neil L. Pessin
Corey J. Lanerie
1st, FG MSW (2/18/23-R7) 20-1
Last Race 1st, FG MSW (2/18/23-R7)

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