The Road to the Kentucky Derby series makes its first of three stops at Fair Grounds on Saturday when a maximum field of 14 will line up in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3), a 1 1/16-mile heat which will complete under the lights a marathon 13-race card at the New Orleans oval.
Lukewarm favoritism in the wide-open affair could land on either Scabbard or Mr. Monomoy, both of whom avoided wide posts at the Jan. 11 draw. Second best to Dennis’ Moment in the Iroquois (G3) two back, Scabbard was most recently fourth in a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) dominated by longshots over a Santa Anita strip that was not all to the liking by those shipping in from out of state.
“He didn’t care for the surface too much,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said of Scabbard. “He’s a closer and that track wasn’t playing well to closers that day.”
Mr. Monomoy, a half-brother to champion filly Monomoy Girl, was an impressive graduate second out, but was run down late in his two-turn debut, a Dec. 21 Fair Grounds allowance, by Lynn’s Map, who unluckily drew post 14 for the Lecomte.
Like his celebrated sister, Mr. Monomoy has so far shown a tendency to race on or near the lead. In theory, distance shouldn’t be an issue for a son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Palace Malice, but trainer Brad Cox expressed some after the colt’s narrow loss last time.
“I think there is a little bit of a question mark on how far the horse wants to go,” Cox said of Mr. Monomoy immediately following that race.
No Lecomte winner in it’s long history has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, though Preakness (G1) winners Oxbow (2013) and War of Will (2019) both won the race. That’s a commonality the race shares with Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has yet to smell the roses but has won the Pimlico classic twice.
Asmussen’s entered three in the Lecomte, with Silver State potentially the best of the trio after the son of 2007 Lecomte winner Hard Spun ran out of ground in a one-turn mile allowance at Churchill last time. From the family of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, Silver State could appreciate the added distance.
Sycamore Run, a son of 2007 Derby hero Street Sense, showed good speed in winning on debut in the slop going 6 furlongs for Joe Sharp, earning a 96 Brisnet Speed Rating. However, the colt drew post 13 and the field is loaded with other front runners.
Finnick the Fierce outran all expectations when second by less than a length in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at odds of 87-1. Also exiting that Churchill Downs prep is Enforceable, who ran fourth that night and third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) the race before. Mark Casse, who trains both Enforceable and Lynn’s Map, won the Lecomte last season with War of Will.
The Lecomte, which will be followed later in the meet by the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2), will award Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.