Race of the Week 2017

Nine Likely for Louisiana Derby

Mr. Bowling ridden by Robby Albarado gets a head in front of Z Dager and jockey Shane Sellers to win the 68th running of the $175,000 Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.  Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.
With final nominations to the $1 million Louisiana Derby having closed last Saturday on St. Patrick’s Day, Fair Grounds stakes coordinator Scott Jones was able to check off the names of nine prominent 3-year-olds on Wednesday morning as likely for the 99th running of the centerpiece of the 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season.


The Grade II Louisiana Derby will be contested on Sunday, April 1, closing day program of Fair Grounds’ current season. Supplementary nominations of $50,000 will be accepted at entry time on Monday, March 26.


     {Check out the top Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders} 

Godolphin Racing’s Alpha, coming off an impressive win in Aqueduct’s Grade III Withers Feb. 4, heads the list of those leaning toward a run in the Louisiana Derby – as always a significant stepping stone on the road to the Kentucky Derby May 5. The bay sophomore is a son of Bernardini, who won the 2006 Withers on his way to glory in that season’s Preakness, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup stakes.


Before his Withers score, Alpha captured Aqueduct’s $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes Jan.7 and was the runner-up to Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags in Belmont’s Grade I Champagne last fall. Union Rags was the top individual betting interest in the second Kentucky Derby Future Wager earlier this month.


Alpha, who is trained by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s longtime trainer Kiaran McGlaughlin, breezed five furlongs last Saturday at South Florida’s Palm Meadows training center in 1:01 flat.


Brereton Jones’ Mark Valeski, who finished second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes as Fair Grounds’ designed prep for the Louisiana Derby on Feb. 25, will shoulder the favorite’s mantle among the locally-based Louisiana Derby contenders. Trained by Larry Jones, who saddled Fox Hill Farms and Vinery Stable’s Friesan Fire to win the 2009 Louisiana Derby as well as that year’s Risen Star and Grade III Lecomte Stakes, Mark Valeski breezed five furlongs in 59.40 at Fair Grounds Tuesday.


Zayat Stables’ Z Dager, who finished second in this year’s Lecomte and third in the Risen Star, is also being pointed for the upcoming Louisiana Derby. Conditioned by Steve Asmussen, Fair Grounds’ 10-time leading trainer, Z Dager breezed six furlongs Monday morning at Fair Grounds in 1:13 flat.


Among others likely at this time for the 2012 Louisiana Derby are Jim Tafel’s Afford, sixth in the Risen Star after a troubled trip; Mike Munna Racing Stable’s Comisky’s Humor, a winner of his last two by a combined total of 18 lengths; and E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreet Dancer, third behind Union Rags in Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes Feb. 26.


Others likely for the upcoming Louisiana Derby at this time are Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake, third behind Kendall Hansen’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen in Aqueduct’s Grade III Gotham March 3 despite a tardy break; Gary and Mary West’s Fire Alarm, winner of his last start at Fair Grounds March 2; and Raut LLC’s Hero of Order, fourth in the Risen Star and fifth in the Lecomte.


Brereton Jones’ Mr. Bowling, another Larry Jones trainee who might possibly be pointed for the Louisiana Derby after winning Fair Grounds’ 2012 Lecomte Stakes Jan. 21, went five-eighths in 1:03.80 Tuesday morning here.



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