As was the case at Oaklawn Park earlier this week for the Smarty Jones, there’s a strong possibility of an off track for the next Kentucky Derby (G1) prep on the schedule. That would be Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
At mid-week, the Weather Channel forecast for the Big Easy called for an 80 percent chance of precipitation on Thursday, 70 percent on Friday, and 80 percent again on Saturday. That could make things interesting for the Lecomte, contested at one mile and 70 yards and worth 10 points to the winner as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Unlike the Smarty Jones, the Lecomte looks like it could have several pace players. Untrapped and Running Mate are both stretching out from sprints where they displayed early foot. Phat Man, who recently graduated in the claiming ranks, led all the way to win by 12 lengths in the slop and drew the rail for the Lecomte. Even Shareholder Value, who stalked-and-pounced his way to a track-and-distance allowance victory last month, showed more tactical speed in his maiden win in the slop at Keeneland last October.
A strong pace could benefit Guest Suite, a Quality Road gelding trained by Neil Howard. Guest Suite has won twice in four starts, including a one-mile Churchill allowance by 6 1/4 lengths in his juvenile finale. In his lone previous stakes attempt, Guest Suite was five lengths third to McCraken in the $83,000 Street Sense at Churchill. McCraken later went on to capture the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
In addition to maiden scorer Untrapped, Steve Asmussen will also saddle Tip Tap Tapizar and Totality. Tip Tap Tapizar is the most accomplished Lecomte entrant, having won the $103,000 Sapling at Monmouth after placing twice in graded company. Runner-up in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs following the Sapling, Tip Tap Tapizar retreated badly in the final half-mile of the Delta Jackpot (G3), losing by 16 lengths in his latest outing.
Totality, meanwhile, won on debut at Churchill in early October, finished fifth against allowance company after a poor start, and then shipped to Remington Park where he got up for second in the $300,000 Springboard Mile.
Outside posts could affect the chances of Takeoff, a gate-to-wire maiden winner over Arklow for Mark Casse, and Pat On the Back, who took a New York-bred stakes in the slop before running sixth in the Delta Jackpot.