Lecomte Stakes Predictions, Betting Odds, Top Picks (Fair Grounds)
Post Position and Odds – Lecomte Stakes
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|1||SURFER DUDE||15/1 |
|R Gutierrez||D Stewart|
|2||UNIFIED REPORT||12/1 |
|C Lanerie||D Stewart|
|J Bravo||M Casse|
|C J Hernandez||A Stall Jr|
|J Rosario||S Asmussen|
|F Geroux||B Cox|
|7||BLUE KENTUCKY||20/1 |
|J Loveberry||W Catalano|
|8||CALL ME MIDNIGHT||20/1 |
|J Graham||J K Desormeaux|
|B J Hernandez Jr||S Asmussen|
Best Bets for the Lecomte Stakes
Here are my plays ($50 in total)
$6 Exacta part wheel – Pappacap over Epicenter, Trafalgar, Cyberknife, Presidential and Call Me Midnight = $30
$4 Exacta part wheel – Epicenter, Trafalgar, Cyberknife, Presidential and Call Me Midnight over Pappacap = $20
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Pappacap (2/1).
Pappacap, the runner-up in last fall’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, headlines a field of nine 3-year-olds entered in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.
A debut winner at Gulfstream, the Florida-bred son of Gun Runner followed that up running in four consecutive graded stakes in California. Pappacap began his West Coast swing by winning the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. He was beaten in his last three, but did finish as the runner-up behind the soon-to-be champion Corniche in both the Grade 1 American Pharoah and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Chief among his rivals will be the runaway winner of the recent Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds, Epicenter. After breaking his maiden impressively with a front-running score at Churchill Downs in his second career start, the Steve Asmussen-trained son of Not This Time dominated in his first local appearance, taking over at the head of the stretch and drawing away by 6 ½ lengths.
Two others who should receive attention include recent winners over the track Cyberknife, by Gun Runner, and Trafalgar, by Lord Nelson. Each promising colt has only made three-lifetime starts and will be making their stakes debuts on Saturday.
Contested at 1 1/16-miles, the Lecomte, will not only be a key prep for the rich Louisiana Derby on March 26, but will also offer Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a scale of 10-4-2-1.
This son of Not This Time will likely go off the favorite after two good looking victories, including his romping win over the track in last month’s Gun Runner Stakes. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, he showed good speed in both efforts, but now could find a little more early pace here to trouble him early. He also faces a tougher field than he has before. As good as he has looked in the wins, he has the potential to be a good one, and the win over the track certainly doesn’t help. I’m not sure if the value will be there, though. He is obviously a big threat, but I will only use him as a saver and try to get a horse with longer odds into the exacta.
Considering who he has faced already, he is clearly the only horse in the field who will actually be stepping down in class. Trainer Mark Casse usually has his early-season 3-year-olds ready to fire, so the eleven weeks off since his strong effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile should not be an issue. The son of Gun Runner has a solid foundation having run on both coasts and having begun his career way back in May. I also like his running style in this spot as he should be able to sit off a solid pace and then pounce. Classy and probably not the favorite on Saturday, he is my top pick.
This one also brings plenty of potential for bigger and better things. Despite running against maidens in each of his first three starts, he has run against some pretty good horses and has been sharp in each. Moving up into graded stakes company is obviously a step up, but that’s true for all but one of the horses in the race. Trained by Brad Cox, and also a son of Gun Runner, there is every reason to believe that he will improve over time. Drawn outside the likely favorite, look for him to take the race to Epicenter early. I’m not sure that he is ready to win this, but he looks like an up and comer to me.
Hard not to like what this son of Lord Nelson has accomplished already. After running second to an impressive horse in his debut at Saratoga, he traveled to Churchill Downs and came from way back to win his maiden going away. After that, he got in a race over the Fair Grounds track and won again. In that one, he was closer to the pace and was game to the wire. His running style should help on Saturday as he faces his toughest assignment yet. I do like a few others better here, but the Al Stall, Jr. runner is an interesting alternative as the likely fourth choice.
A Louisiana-bred, he has been nothing but solid in his first three starts. In fact, the son of Unified is undefeated, but of course, all three wins came against state-breds. He is already a two-time stakes winner, but having only sprinted against fellow Louisiana-breds, it’s hard to know if he will be up to the challenge of some really good 3-year-olds as he stretches out for the first time. He should be forwardly placed early, but my money says that the task of open, Grade 3 company will be a little more than he wants right now.
This son of Curlin has shown plenty of speed in six starts as a juvenile. He’s only won once so far, but he has run against a number of good horses. Unfortunately, Epicenter, who also has plenty of speed, has handled him quite easily in their last two meetings. Drawn to the rail, it seems very likely that he will once again go right out after the early lead, but I am hard pressed to believe that he will fare better against that one in this difficult field.
The other Asmussen runner interests me a bit as a long shot. Coming from Indiana Grand, where he has competed in his only two starts, he will likely not get much respect here, even from the strong barn. His first race was certainly nothing to write home about, but he was impressive in his second career start. An explosive move dusted the field in Indiana and now he has had nearly five months off. I think the son of Pioneerof the Nile has some talent. More than any horse in the field, he will need to prove his class, but again, as a long shot, he does interest me.
Call Me Midnight
Before a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, this Keith Desormeaux-trained son of Midnight Lute was improving with each start. A good second in his first try at a route of ground three starts back, he parlayed that effort at Keeneland into a nice maiden-breaking victory going a mile at Churchill Downs. He didn’t fire his best against the big field of graded opposition last time, but it was a strong field. This time, he should get some pace to run at in a slightly smaller field. He will be a long shot again, but I could see him turning in a much improved effort.
Another long shot in this field of nine, this one has done nothing but sprint so far in six career starts. He has won twice, and overall been pretty solid, including a decent third last time in the local Sugar Bowl Stakes. This seems like a tough spot for his first stretch-out, however. Having said that, his pedigree does offer real hope that he will appreciate the added distance. I can’t completely throw him out, but there are too many others here that I prefer.
How to watch the Lecomte Stakes
|Lecomte Stakes Race Information|
|What||Lecomte Stakes (Grade 3)|
|Time||Saturday, January 22 — 7:20pm Eastern time|
|How to Watch||TVG|
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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.
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