Saturday, January 22, 2011

LeComte Stakes Kicks off Fairgrounds Derby Preps

Race 10 Fairgrounds LeComte Stakes
1 Mile 40 Yards | Open | 3 Year Olds |  G3  STAKES |  Purse: $100,000
Hard Spun - Photo: Hodges
The LeComte Stakes (G-3) is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. The horses entered in today’s race are being tested for class and if a few show quality, they will move on to the Risen Star Stakes, the middle leg of the Fairgrounds prep race series for the Kentucky Derby. The 2007 winner Hard Spun finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid – Tasha’s Delight, by Afternoon Deelites) regressed slightly after winning his maiden to finish 3 ¼ lengths behind Justin Phillip. To give him some credit, he was five wide going into the first turn and it was his initial attempt over a sloppy track. Wilkinson’s dam is a stakes placed half sister to Grade 2 winner Miss Pickums. He has a stamina over speed pedigree and this distance is well within his scope. Wilkinson’s works are on the slow side of average and the Howard barn has a 4% win rate with graded stakes.

ACTION READY (More Than Ready – You Again, by Wild Again) has won or placed in his last three starts and is ready to move up. Action Ready will have no difficulty with the distance and eventually may want to go farther. His unraced dam is a half sister to Grade 2 winner Best of Luck and his second dam is a Grade 2 winner. Action Ready’s works have been brisk, including a last breeze bullet. The Calhoun barn scores with 20% of their runners moving from turf to dirt.

MOBEETIE (Sky Mesa – Ashley’s Crown, by Danzig) easily won his six furlong debut by 2 ¼ lengths over maiden claimers. Mobeetie should do well up to 1 1/16 miles. His dam is a half sister to a stakes placed runner, but the rest of this family is fairly blue collar. Mobeetie recorded one slow work since his win and the Heitzman barn is 0 for 24 with horses jumping from a sprint to a route.

Justin Phillip -  Photo: Hodges
JUSTIN PHILLIP (First Samurai – Avaknowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) rebounded with a win against optional claimers after showing twice against allowance company. It’s questionable how far First Samurai offspring will run, but Justin Phillip’s pedigree indicates that he should handle up to 1 1/8 miles. His damsire and second damsire were winners at 1 ½ miles. His dam was stakes paced and Justin Phillip is a half brother to sprinter Keyed Entry who set a new track record at Gulfstream Park for 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.12. Two other siblings are stakes winners as well. The Asmussen trainee gets the hood for his stakes debut and 23% of the barn’s runners running with first time blinkers win.

PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start – Cabo De Noche, by Cape Town) showed speed in the Count Fleet Stakes, but backed up in the stretch and wound up more than four lengths behind the winner. The Kelly Breen trainee has a stamina over speed pedigree. His sire Jump Start, a well bred son of A.P. Indy, produced Grade 2 winners Rail Trip and Sir Whimsey. His offspring are generally best at a mile and farther. Cape Town generally gets sprinters, but his speed is tempered by the stamina influence of third damsire Bates Motel. Pants On Fire’s dam is a half sister to stakes winning sprinters Hatfield and Key Hunter. The Breen barn’s shippers win 19% of their races.

How the track is playing: One run closers are at a disadvantage getting only 11% of the pot. 33% of the front runners get to the wire first and mid-pack runners also do well. No rain is expected and the track should be fast.

This is a field of optional claimers trying for some black-type. JUSTIN PHILIP will be the likely favorite after facing a stronger group of allowance horses two races back. He’s flashed some talent, but he doesn’t appear unbeatable. PANTS ON FIRE can give Justin Phillip a run for his money on the front end. ACTION READY may also vie for the lead or sit just behind the pace. His speed figures are improving and he could surprise the top two. The field is too short for a longshot pick.