The Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds is the first of eight
Kentucky Derby points races that offers the winner 100 points, 40 for second,
20 for third and 10 for fourth. Win and it's you can make plans to run at
Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May.
For entrants that have already earned a few points, like
PROXY (PP: 4 ML 7/2), HOT ROD CHARLIE (PP: 5 ML 3-1) and MIDNIGHT BOURBON (PP:
7 ML 5-1), collecting place and show points and dough could be enough to wiggle
into Churchill too. MANDALOUN (PP: 6 ML 6/5) probably has enough points to make
the trip to Louisville, Kentucky, but adding more to his total would serve as
For all the others, win and you are in would be the best
outcome, finishing second might do, but anything else means they'll need to run
in another stop on the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby to get enough points to
finish in the top 20.
Six of the eight in the Louisiana Derby faced off a little
more than a month ago in the Risen Star Stakes with MANDALOUN hitting the wire
first, ahead of PROXY and MIDNOUGHT BOURBON. It was the second consecutive race
the trio met and finished 1-2-3. Except, when they competed for the Lecomte
title in mid-January, MIDNIGHT BOURNON and MANDALOUN switched places with PROXY
separating them once again.
Only RUN CLASSIC (PP: 3 ML 12-1) and HOT ROD CHARLIE (PP: 5
ML 3-1) are unfamiliar foes for this group. Since we have a sense of how the
other six stack up, horse players have to figure out where RUN CLASSIC and HOT
ROD CHARLIE fit in. Does the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner up, HOT ROD CHARLIE
move to the front of the line and can RUN CLASSIC go from his maiden win to the
Kentucky Derby in back-to-back races?
Let's start with HOT ROD CHARLIE, love the name and the
Breeders' Cup performance but there really isn't much more than that on his
resume. His four races before the BC Juvenile were pedestrian at best and he
finished third in his only race since, the Robert B Lewis Stakes. To be fair,
he stumbled and was bumped before crossing the tape behind MEDINA SPIRIT and
ROMAN CENTURIAN and ahead of SPIELBERG.
In their next race, MEDINA SPIRIT and ROMAN CENTURIAN were
obliterated by LIFE IS GOOD in the San Felipe Stakes. Meanwhile, SPIELBERG
finished a well beaten second to ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Southwest Stakes. All
appear to be good horses, better than most, but not legitimate Kentucky Derby
contenders in their most recent form. Then again, the winner of the Louisiana
Derby hasn't been a Kentucky Derby contender too often with just two winners in
its long history, going all the way back to 1894.
HOT ROD CHARLIE hasn't raced since the Robert B. and his
works have been blah since. He'll probably take in money and likely be one of
if not the post time favorite, but we'd like to see him win a race against
quality opponents before putting HOT ROD CHARLIE at the top of the ticket.
There isn't much meat on RUN CLASSIC's experience bones. He
raced twice, debuting second after exchanging some heavy bumps with the eventual
winner and then came back to win round two in his first route. If you dig into
his performances, there are some hints that RUN CLASSIC could be a contender.
After being "jostled" in his debut, he backed up and lost
ground before fighting back for place money. Again, there is more to the story
than you see in RUN CLASSIC's past performance line for his last outing. He had
to go three wide in the first turn and then four wide in the second turn.
That's usually a losing strategy. However, he battled and won running away with
a 1 1/16 time that matches MIDNIGHT BOURBON's winning Lecomte time. If he
didn't race three to four wide through the turns, you have to imagine that his
winning fraction would have been faster. A clean trip combined with the late
pace number he put up in his last effort would make RUN CLASSIC a contender.
And you know, he's going to fight all the way to the finish line if his first
two are any indication.
HOT ROD CHARLIE will have to run back to his Breeders' Cup
form to collect the 100 Derby points. The California invader might get some
tail end points if the horse from his other five races shows up.
We don't know RUN CLASSIC's ceiling. We know based on his
winning maiden time that he can compete with MIDNIGHT BOURNON, MANDALOUN and
PROXY. If RUN CLASSIC improves in his third career start, as we expect, his
12-1 morning line is generous.
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