It is Derby Day at Fair Grounds Race Course on Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. The $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (Gr. 1), the first 170-point race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Race 14 at Fair Grounds today. The card is full at Fair Grounds with a total of 14 races and eight stakes events.
Besides the Louisiana Derby, the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (Gr. 2) and $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (Gr. 2) are standout races to note at Fair Grounds. There is no track in the US that compares to Fair Grounds in terms of monetary awards on Saturday. Sam Houston Race Park is the next biggest stakes racing track with seven $100,000 events in Houston.
Following the Louisiana Derby, there are still seven 170-point prep races left on the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule. A win solidifies a spot in the Kentucky Derby for the winning runner. Even 40 points for placing 2nd should be enough to get into the most historic race in the country. We’ll have a Kentucky Derby preview up at TheSportsGeek on this coming Monday or Tuesday.
Through 14 races, there is a total of $3,000,000 in prize money available at Fair Grounds Race Course. There is a lot of money to hand out in New Orleans on Saturday. Hopefully we’re on the winning side. Head below for our free Fair Grounds and Louisiana Derby picks at TheSportsGeek.
Race 8 – Costa Rising Stakes
Post Time: 2:42 p.m. CST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
The Costa Rising Stakes is a $100,000 event on the turf covering 5 ½ furlongs. It’s a big field of 14 runners, with a couple that we can circle on the shortlist. Monte Man and No Parole are in good form at the moment and should be tough to beat.
Monte Man has a hat-trick in his sights after winning on December 12 and February 26. He’s a winner in three of his previous four outings and top-3 in five in a row. Overall, the veteran has gone 17 for 45 in his career, with a stakes win on December 12.
Monte Man defeated Win Ya Win by 2 ½ lengths in the $100,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint Stakes (Black Type), and then followed up in a $53,000 event by a head over Classy John. Monte Man was a heavy favorite in that race, but needed the length of his head to win.
No Parole is the class of the race going into this event. The young colt has graded experience, and has a win at the Grade 1 level in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes on June 20. That was an impressive 3 ¾ length win. Since then, No Parole finished 9th in the H. Allen Jerkerns Stakes (Gr. 1), and 6th in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (Gr. 2).
After a class drop to the $100,000 LA Bred Premier Sprint Stakes on February 10, it was clear that he can dominate in non-graded events. He stays in the same class for this outing on Saturday. Everything has been held in check in workouts, and No Parole appears positioned for a bold bid. No Parole looks like the play in the Costa Rising Stakes.
Race 12 – Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes
Post Time: 4:43 p.m. CST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
The Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (Gr. 2) is a big time event worth $300,000 on the turf. 12 horses are scheduled to travel 1 ⅛ miles on the grass for the top prize at Fair Grounds. The likely front runners point to Factor This and Colonel Liam. Factor This is 12 for 35 in his career and taking a class drop on Saturday.
He was on a four-race winning streak from March 21 to August 2, but his last three events haven’t been as strong. Factor This has finished 8th, 8th, 5th in his previous three outings. Those were all graded events, and Factor This is entering another Grade 2 event on Saturday. In his most recent showing, it didn’t look like he could be good for a win here. However, Factor This could bounce back in nice form.
Factor This finished 5th in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (Gr. 2) on February 13. A lot more was expected from Factor This, as he weakened late in the stretch. He’ll need to finish the deal in stronger form today if he wants to win. The talent is still there and Factor This could steal one here, but Colonel Liam is going to be tough based on recent form.
Colonel Liam comes in on a two-race winning streak, including a recent win in the $1,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (Gr. 1) over Largent by a neck. This is a $1,200,000 horse that should win a Grade 2 race. Overall, she’s 4 for 6 and is coming off the biggest win of her career. She’s in good form and should have the upper hand in the Muniz Memorial.
Race 14 – Louisiana Derby
Post Time: 5:44 p.m. CST
Distance:1 3/16 Miles
The final race of the day is the feature event of the weekend. The $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (Gr. 1) comes with 170 points, 100 points to the winner towards the Kentucky Derby. Proxy and Mandaloun are held in high regard on my shortlist. Proxy is a consistent runner and hasn’t done worse than 2nd in his career.
The colt has gone 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd. In his two wins, Proxy won on November 26 in a $47,000 event over Afwan by 2 lengths, and then followed up for a $50,000 over Good First by 2 ½ lengths. That’s when Proxy jumped up to go stakes racing in the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (Gr. 3) and $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (Gr. 2).
He placed 2nd in both outings, the most recent placing behind Mandaloun by 1 ¼ lengths in the Risen Star on February 13. They will meet again on Saturday under bigger circumstances for a million-dollar purse. Mandaloun has looked terrific in workouts going into Saturday.
He completed 5 furlongs in 59.80 and 59.20 seconds, along with 1:00.60 recently on March 13 in a light workout in preparation for the Louisiana Derby. Overall, he’s gone 1st, 1st, 3rd, 1st in his career, with his most recent appearance the win over Proxy in the Risen Star. Expect Brad Cox to have Mandaloun firing on all cylinders on Saturday afternoon.