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Check out our predictions and odds for the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds!
R Santana Jr
B J Hernandez Jr
J K Desormeaux
*Odds provided by the author.
$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Tapit’s Conquest, Disarm, and Kingsbarns over Tapit’s Conquest, Disarm, Kingbarns, Shopper’s Revenge, and Instant Coffee = $60
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Tapit’s Conquest (10/1).
A deep field of 12 Kentucky Derby hopefuls is headlined by two-time graded stakes winner Instant Coffee in the $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday at Fair Grounds.
One of three in the race trained by Brad Cox, the son of Bolt d’Oro has not raced since rallying to an impressive victory over the track in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes nine weeks ago.
It was his second straight graded stakes victory, having won in a similar fashion in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in late November. Overall, the morning line favorite has won 3-of-4.
Chief among his competition in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby will be the undefeated Kingsbarns from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
A first-out winner at Gulfstream Park in mid-January, the $800,000 2-year-old in training purchase came back four weeks after that to romp home by almost eight lengths in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs.
Another who should get strong consideration on Saturday is the Kenny McPeek-trained Sun Thunder.
An improving son of Into Mischief, he has only won once in four career starts but turned in a strong rally last time to finish a good second in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.
As a Kentucky Derby trail race, the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby will offer all-important qualifying points on a scale of 100-40-30-20-10 to the top five finishers.
A deserving favorite here, this Bolt d’Oro has done nothing wrong in four career starts. A debut winner at Saratoga, he has seen nothing but graded stakes since. Only a decent effort behind the champion Forte stands between him and a perfect record.
Two graded stakes scores, including one over the track, have solidified him as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. Having said all that, the Brad Cox-trained runner is no sure thing on Saturday. This is a deep and talented field without too much early speed to set up his rally.
He will need to work out a good trip from an inside post position if he is to win his third straight and head to Kentucky as one of the Derby favorites.
This well-thought son of Uncle Mo has not found an easy spot for his stakes debut. A nice maiden winner two months ago and an even better allowance winner last month, the Todd Pletcher trainee could be any kind as he jumps onto the Kentucky Derby trail here.
It was an explosive middle move he used last time at Tampa Bay Downs to effectively end any doubt about the outcome. That turn of foot, coupled with having more tactical speed than the other favorites, makes him a real threat on Saturday.
Both the jump up in class and distance are questions, but his talent and running style may be enough to overcome his inexperience.
Sent off at 16/1 odds last time in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, this son of Into Mischief outran his odds to finish second in the large field.
It was clearly his best race yet, although I would have liked to see him finish off the last 100 yards a little better. That is a bit of a concern as they run even farther in the Louisiana Derby. He could also be hindered by a slow to moderate pace on Saturday.
Still, the Kenny McPeek-trained runner appears to be getting better with each and every start and is obviously a threat in this deep field.
The second of three from trainer Brad Cox, this son of Tapit accounted pretty well for himself in his stakes debut when he finished fourth of 14 in the Risen Star.
If he can stay a little closer early this time, he may have a better chance. Still relatively lightly raced, he also might be able to improve off the experience.
He picks up crafty rider Manny Franco for the assignment and should be right at home with the additional distance. He also should offer excellent value for a horse who has never run anything but well in four-lifetime starts. He is the top pick.
If you can excuse two poor performances on sloppy racing surfaces, this son of Quality Road has plenty to like. Most notably, he was much the best when wiring the field in the local Gun Runner Stakes two starts back.
That speed could be key for him as he has found a field without too much speed here. The outside post is a concern, though, as he might need to work hard early to get a good position heading into the first turn.
There is reason to like him on Saturday, but I do worry about the distance increase for a colt who has not always finished strongly.
This son of Gun Runner impressed last summer with a big maiden performance at Saratoga in his second career start. It followed a very promising debut at Churchill Downs. Away for better than six months, he needed his last start when second in an allowance race at Oaklawn Park.
Working well since, the talented colt should be sitting on another strong move forward in his second start of the year, as he did last year.
I like the addition of Joel Rosario in the irons as he stretches out to 1 3/16 miles. He also has enough tactical speed to be involved early. In a wide-open race, I like his chances to outrun his odds.
Bred to be a good one, this son of Tapit and Stopchargingmaria has the potential to be a serious horse. He has only run three times, with one win and two seconds, but he has shown enough to believe that he could develop into something nice.
Two starts back, he dominated maidens on the front end. Last out, he broke poorly and rallied to be a good second in the allowance company. It only gets tougher here, but if he can put himself in position early, he has every right to improve in his fourth career start.
Considering his pedigree, he should love the added distance of ground. Like his stablemate, this Asmussen runner looks like a live longshot.
Trained by Kenny McPeek, this gray son of Gun Runner turned in his best performance yet last time when he rallied resolutely to get by Cagliostro in a salty allowance race at Fair Grounds. It was his second win in eight-lifetime starts.
Before that, he was beaten in three consecutive stakes races, with two of those losses coming to Instant Coffee. His victory last time was also the first time he was given Lasix, which he will not be permitted to use on Saturday.
Off the most recent race, he is a threat, but with many late runners in the field, I do feel that several have more upside than this one.
A Florida-bred son of Upstart, this lightly raced colt has looked good since arriving in New Orleans this winter. After fading a bit in his only start as a juvenile, he has come back this year with two solid performances.
He broke his maiden over the track and in style in January and then came back last month to just miss in allowance company.
Eligible to take another step forward in his fourth career start, he is an interesting longshot on Saturday. His tactical speed should be helpful, but he will need to prove that he can handle the extra eighth of a mile.
A graded stakes winner as a juvenile, this son of Good Magic did not do much in his return to the races last month. Perhaps he did not like the crowded trip in the Risen Star, but his eighth-place finish still leaves a lot to be desired.
Trainer Tom Amoss believes he can bounce back off the experience over the track, but once again he has found a difficult spot.
He should be respected, having run several solid races last year, but there are too many others I prefer to give him a big shot here.
A few weeks removed from an upset victory in the Rebel Stakes with Confidence Game, trainer Keith Desormeaux will look to pull off another upset in a million-dollar race.
Although he has only won once in six career starts, the Empire Maker colt is on the improve. Experienced over the Fair Grounds track, he broke his maiden powerfully two starts back, before mild rallying to be fifth in the Risen Star.
He will need more to make serious noise on Saturday, but another move forward could put him in the mix at attractive odds.
This son of Flatter has progressed in his last two starts. He has no early speed, but he has been able to uncork a strong late run in his last two maiden attempts.
Both came at Fair Grounds and after running a solid second behind Single Ruler, he won going away in the most recent one.
This will be a big jump up in class for a horse who has never before faced winners, but of his recent form, he is at least a consideration to be passing horses in the stretch to pick up a minor award.
Louisiana Derby Race Information
What: Louisiana Derby (Grade 2)
Location: Fair Grounds
Time: Saturday, March 25 -- 6:42 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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