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Check out our predictions and odds for the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds!
J K Desormeaux
B J Hernandez Jr
*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Echo Again over Instant Coffee, Tapit’s Conquest, Two Phil’s, and Confidence Game = $40
$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Instant Coffee, Tapit’s Conquest, Two Phil’s, and Confidence Game over Echo Again = $20
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Echo Again (6/1).
The 2023 Kentucky Derby trail through New Orleans begins on Saturday as Instant Coffee headlines a competitive field of eight entered in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Trained by Brad Cox, Instant Coffee is a 2-for-3 lifetime and closed out his juvenile campaign with a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.
Before that, the Bolt d’Oro colt was a debut winner at Saratoga and then fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland behind Forte.
Chief among his competition in the 8 1/2-furlong Lecomte is his stablemate Tapit’s Conquest.
A good second in his debut at Saratoga, the son of Tapit came right back to easily break his maiden going two turns at Churchill Downs last time, which was on October 3.
Another who should get plenty of support on Saturday is Two Phil’s. The well traveled Hard Spun colt is a winner of 3-of-5 overall, including a pair of stakes races.
Most recently he scored by open lengths in a sloppy edition of the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The Lecomte begins the second stage in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with 20-8-6-4-2 qualifying points awarded to the top five finishers.
This son Bolt d’Oro was a solid juvenile in 2022. First, he rallied to beat a well intended group of maidens at Saratoga, before stepping right up to Grade 1 company in his second career start.
He did not threaten the winner that day, but his late-running fourth was flattered when Forte came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The last one wasn’t fast, but he did what he needed to do in rallying to a clear-cut win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs eight weeks ago.
Proven for class and at the distance, he is a deserving favorite. He is the horse to beat, but as the favorite and lacking much early speed, I will take a shot against him.
This son of Tapit is only a maiden winner so far, but brings plenty of potential to his stakes debut on Saturday. Debuting in late summer at Saratoga, he rallied nicely to be a close second in a good field of maidens going seven furlongs.
Stepping up in distance next out, he dominated a maiden field at Churchill Downs at 8 1/2-furlongs. He has been freshened since by trainer Brad Cox and has had a solid series of workouts over the Fair Grounds track.
He lacks the experience of many in here, but he has looked like a runner so far. I like his stablemate a bit better on Saturday, but he is certainly a threat.
A two-time stakes winner, this Larry Rivelli-trained chestnut had a nice 2-year-old campaign while racing at four different tracks. A winner in Virginia, Minnesota and Kentucky, most recently he was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs in October.
That victory came on a sloppy track, so he will need to prove he can beat graded stakes horses on a fast surface, but overall there is plenty to like about the son of Hard Spun.
Working well for his return, he has good tactical speed and has proven that he can run well anywhere. He is one of the top threats to my top pick.
This son of Gun Runner was a very impressive first-out winner at Saratoga, but has failed in two stakes attempts since. In between the two, he looked good in an allowance at Churchill Downs, but the race became a no-contest.
Following that effort, he showed improvement last time to set the pace in Remington’s $400,000 Springboard Mile, before fading to third.
Breaking from the rail, and with good experience now under his belt, I expect him to go right to the lead, and this could be the race where he breaks through and begins to live up to his potential. He is the top pick.
The first of two from trainer Paulo Lobo, this son of Mastery has done nothing wrong so far in winning his first two starts. Both came sprinting, a maiden at Churchill Downs and an allowance at Turfway Park.
Both were solid scores, but nothing that quite points him out as a potential star. This will be his first start stretching out to two turns, but his pedigree suggests that he will handle the added distance.
An undefeated horse is always dangerous, but I have a feeling he might be a little overbet as he tries stakes competition for the first time. He is a threat, but I am looking elsewhere.
This son of Candy Ride has already run against some good horses in his career. While he wasn’t good enough to scare the likes of Damond’s Mound, Curly Jack, Jace’s Road, and Forbidden Secret, he does have two nice wins at Churchill Downs out of five career starts.
Most recently he was able to go wire-to-wire in an allowance race at the same 1 1/16-mile distance which he will see on Saturday.
He will need to improve upon his lone stakes try, but that fifth in the Grade 3 Iroquois came three starts ago, and he could be moving forward. He is in with a shot.
This son of Gun Runner will get blinkers on after only mild rallies in his first two stakes tries. His only victory came in the slop against maidens in his fourth career start. The stakes efforts were decent enough, though, to at least consider him here.
Easily the most experienced horse around two turns in the race, if the blinkers do have him more focused and involved early, he could be a threat to surprise.
I cannot completely dismiss him, as he was less than two lengths behind Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but I do like others better.
A half-brother to the great Rachel Alexandra, this son of Bolt d’Oro commanded $1.4 million as a yearling. Sent to trainer Paulo Lobo, he made his debut at Churchill Downs in late November and after showing speed, he faded badly to ninth.
Showing solid improvement in his next start, he stalked the pace and went by for a good score. That 6 1/2-furlong maiden victory came over the all-weather track at Turfway Park.
He has the pedigree and potential to keep moving forward, but this will be a big jump up in class from his maiden win. It’s probably more likely he shows some speed in here than is a big part of the race at the finish.
Lecomte Stakes Race Information
What: Lecomte Stakes (Grade 3)
Location: Fair Grounds
Time: Saturday, January 21 -- 7:30 pm Eastern time
How to Watch: FanDuel TV
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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