March 4, 2024

Track Phantom, Nash rematch on tap in Lecomte; West Omaha heads Silverbulletday

Track Phantom wins the Gun Runner S. at Fairgrounds (Photo by Hodges Photography)

The $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Saturday is the finale on a marathon 13-race card, but the first Road to the Kentucky Derby prep this season to offer qualifying points of 20-10-6-4-2 to the respective top five finishers.

The 1 1/16-mile event will serve as a rematch between Track Phantom and Nash, who finished first and third, respectively, in the Dec. 23 Gun Runner S. Track Phantom’s pace-pressing victory by 1 1/4 lengths was a mild surprise, as Nash was favored at 1-2. A length behind Track Phantom in second with a quarter mile remaining in the Gun Runner, Nash was found wanting late and ultimately finished three lengths behind in third.

“I love how he’s doing, very happy with him and how he’s trained since the Gun Runner,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of Track Phantom. “I feel good about the draw and excited to run him again.”

Nash is one of three potential Lecomte starters for trainer Brad Cox. Ethan Energy won a maiden on the Gun Runner undercard by 5 1/4 lengths, though he ran the 1 1/16 miles two-fifths of a second slower than Track Phantom. Awesome Road was beaten double-digit margins in both the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last two, but might run instead Saturday night in the Leonatus S. at Turfway Park.

Lat Long, a distant second to Track Phantom in a late-November maiden at Churchill before graduating at Oaklawn last month in his fifth start, steps up in class for Kenny McPeek. In contrast, Can Group is already proven in graded company, albeit on the turf. The Mark Casse trainee won the Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland in October, and then rallied to finish fourth by two lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

The field is rounded out by Next Level and Tizzy Indy, longshots trained by Keith Desormeaux, who saddled Call Me Midnight to a 28-1 upset of the 2022 Lecomte.

With Alpine Princess sitting out the $150,000 Silverbulletday S. on Saturday, West Omaha has a strong chance of improving on her second-place finish to that stablemate in last month’s Untapable S.

Like the Untapable, the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds will be contested at one mile and 70 yards. However, the Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points allotment has increased to 20-10-6-4-2 for the respective top five finishers.

A maiden winner by four lengths at Churchill Downs in early November for Brad Cox, West Omaha started as second choice in the Untapable, but could get no closer than two lengths to her favored stablemate. However, West Omaha finished three lengths clear of Sistina Chapel, who should also benefit from the absence of Alpine Princess, having lost to that rival in her last two starts.

Miss Code West will get another class test in the Silverbulletday. A dominating winner of her first three starts against Oklahoma-breds, two of which were stakes, the daughter of Code West passed her first open company test with flying colors, taking the Dec. 15 Trapeze S. at Delta Downs by 6 3/4 lengths.

Perfect Shot, a Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Gun Runner, enters off a 3 1/4-length maiden win at Churchill in her two-turn debut, but the remainder of the field will seemingly have to step up more significantly. Accommodate Eva exits a modest score in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie, Ma Rae’s Girl just defeated allowance rivals over Tapeta at Turfway Park, and the stakes-placed Noriskit Nobiscuit and Play Good Pay Good both graduated in the maiden claiming ranks.