November 27, 2020

Guest Suite joins Kentucky Derby trail with Lecomte win

Guest Suite captures the 73rd running of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

Farish and Kilroy’s homebred Guest Suite rallied to the lead in midstretch and won going away by 1 ¼ lengths in Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, picking up 10 points toward a Kentucky Derby berth in his first qualifying race.

Last seen recording a 6 ¼-length allowance decision at Churchill Downs in late November, the Neil Howard-trained gelding improved his overall record to 5-3-0-2 after completing a mile and 70 yards in 1:43.20 on the muddy track. Robby Albarado had the mount.

By Quality Road, Guest Suite settled into midpack as Phat Man and Running Mate established contested opening splits in :23.42, :46.47 and 1:12.19. The bay advanced into contention rounding the far turn and closed five-wide into the stretch, overhauling Takeoff to seize the lead before the eighth pole.

The winner was off as the 5-2 favorite among 11 rivals.

Untrapped, the 5-1 second choice, out-finished 6-1 Takeoff by a half-length for second. It was another head back to 6-1 Arklow in third.

Guest Suite opened his racing career with a third in an Ellis Park maiden race and broke his maiden the second-time out while stretching out to a route at Keeneland. He followed with a third to the well-regarded McCraken in the October 30 Street Sense at Churchill Downs before concluding his juvenile season with the aforementioned allowance victory.

The Kentucky-bred is out of the Ghostzapper mare Guest House, a daughter of Grade 3 winner Welcome Surprise. Guest Suite counts 1992 Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise as his third maternal dam and this is the female family of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall.

The Road to the Kentucky series continues at Fair Grounds with the Risen Star (G3) on February 25 (50-20-10-5 points scale) and Louisiana Derby (G2) on April 1 (100-40-20-10).

Lecomte Quotes:

Robby Albarado, Guest Suite:  “I had a great trip. He’s a nice horse and Neil has done an exceptional job with him. He’s growing up. He’s a smart horse and it makes it easy. He’s been training forwardly. I just show up for the races, they do all the work, the Howard stable.”

Neil Howard, Guest Suite:  “It’s great. Everyone has the same goals looking ahead after getting started in a race like this. Obviously it was nothing short of great to see that kind of performance. Providing everything went well, we had (focused on this race) after Churchill. It’s hard because you try to give them a little bit of a break. I certainly think that everything is in front of him, but it’s too hard to tell.

“There are some really good ones out there, not the least of which is Ian’s horse (McCracken) who is very talented, but I thought this was a good gauge for him because it was a nice bunch of 3-year-olds. (Guest Suite) has [turned a corner]. He has had a great schedule and hasn’t missed a beat training and has trained wonderfully down here.”

Ricardo Santana, Jr., Untrapped:  “Running first time long, I’m happy with him. He ran big and we tried to teach him something. He finished really good.”

Steve Asmussen, Untrapped: “I love how he fought on late, for his first two turn race.”

Florent Geroux, Takeoff:  “It went well. It was a hot pace. From where we were there weren’t many options. It was either take back or go forward and when he broke sharply, I just followed Running Mate. I knew we were going quick, but I knew couldn’t take back at that point.”

David Carroll, Takeoff, Assistant Trainer to Mark Casse: “He did everything right. That’s what you want to see.”

Brian Hernandez Jr., Arklow:  “He ran well and had a perfect trip. We were behind the winner and I knew he was the horse to beat. We ended up with a good fourth with a horse who was giving up a lot of experience. He has a long run to him, which will be nice later on in the year and will improve as these races stretch out.”

Tom Amoss, Shareholder Value, Fifth:  “He settled well and made a very nice run, which you always like to see. He ran well and was very professional hopefully will move forward from here.”