Louisiana Derby pace projection: Jace makes the race?

Louisiana Derby pace projection: Jace makes the race?
Photo: Hodges Photography

New Orleans

The question of who will make the lead in the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday is almost as big as who will win the 1 3/16-mile Kentucky Derby prep at Fair Grounds.

On paper, there is not a lot of speed. In fact, the Horse Racing Nation Pace Report projects this as one of the slowest paces all day at the Fair Grounds.

The most likely pacesetters are No. 6 Kingsbarns and No. 11 Jace's Road. According to HRN's data, Kingsbarns has a 42 percent chance of making the lead. Based on a conversation Friday morning at Fair Grounds, though, jockey Florent Geroux has other ideas aboard Jace's Road.

"I don't think I'll even have to work for the lead; I think they'll give it to me," Geroux said about Jace's Road from post 11. "I've tried to get this horse to punch through late, and he doesn't want to do it, but he wants to run, so I'm going to let him run."

Geroux was aboard Jace's Road two back when he won the Gun Runner going 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds in gate-to-wire fashion. Jace's Road is two for two when on or within one length of the lead early but is zero for three when any farther back.

To Jace's Road outside is one of the deepest closers in the field, No. 12 Baseline Beater.

"I'm definitely worried about the pace," said Neil Pessin, trainer of the last-out maiden winner. "I'd like a little more something to run at."

Trainer Tom Amoss said Friday afternoon that his barn's Curly Jack would not provide any early pressure. The Good Magic colt won his career debut gate-to-wire going 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, but he has not shown similar zip. He did chase the pace in each of his last three races before lacking a closing kick.

"I definitely get that there's a threat that someone can steal this race, but it's not going to be us," Amoss said. "I thought maybe speed might be a weapon in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and we were close last out in the Risen Star, and it hasn't worked out. We're going to settle before making our run."

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