Jerry Hollendorfer was not in New Orleans for the muffaletta.
The racing Hall of Fame trainer shipped Larry Best’s Instilled Regard to Fair Grounds Race Course, and the cross-country journey paid off with a 3 1/4-length win in the Lecomte S. (G3) —good for 10 points on the Kentucky Derby trail, bringing his total up to 14.
“We thought he’d like this track, and the timing was right,” said Hollendorfer, who previously had only started one other horse at Fair Grounds. “We’ll ship back to California and then look to come back maybe for the Risen Star (G2).”
Instilled Regard always was close up under jockey Javier Castellano, tracking the pace of longshot Believe in Royalty before moving into position entering the far turn and taking the lead turning for home.
“The owner wanted Javier, and he helped us win this race,” Hollendorfer said of teaming with Castellano.
Instilled Regard flattered his West Coast form by shipping East after finishing third (elevated to second) behind the Bob Baffert-trained duo of McKinzie (placed first) and Solomini in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1). The Lecomte is the first stakes win for the Arch colt who cost $1.05 million at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March two-year-olds in training sale.
Instilled Regard’s victory came at the expense of even money favorite Principe Guilherme, who lost position from post 10 and made a nifty move but could not collar the winner drawing off. Steve Asmussen trained the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers and joked with Hollendorfer after the race, “I can never beat you.”
To the press, Asmussen was reluctant to blame the post position for Principe Guilherme’s first defeat.
“The winner was best today,” Asmussen said of Instilled Regard.
Jockey Florent Geroux, who won two stakes earlier on the card, did blame the post.
“We lost some lengths early and had been hoping for better position,” Geroux said. “We can improve off this. He showed some fight.”
Snapper Sinclair was a neck behind Principe Guilherme in third and best of the early front runners. He sat off Believe In Royalty’s pace and withstood a challenge from Lone Sailor before giving way to Instilled Regard and his stablemate late.
Owner Jeff Bloom was pleased with the turf stakes winner’s return to dirt and indicated persevering on the Derby trail is likely, though they definitely have options for the dual surface-abled son of City Zip.
Principe Guilherme earned 4 points, Snapper Sinclair 2 points, and Zing Zang, who closed from near the tail of the field for fourth, 1 point.
The Fair Grounds portion of the Kentucky Derby points series continues with the Risen Star Stakes on February 17 and concludes with the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 24.