The Fair Grounds spur of the 2023 Kentucky Derby trail draws to a close Saturday, March 25 with the Louisiana Derby. The Grade 2 $1 million race covers 1 3/16 miles, the furthest distance of any stateside Kentucky Derby prep. It is the fourth and final points race at the New Orleans track, following the Gun Runner, Lecomte (G3), and Risen Star (G2).
The race is open to three-year-olds and up, and drew a field of 12 colts and geldings. Lecomte Stakes winner Instant Coffee was named the 2-1 morning line favorite. Other leaders in the field include Risen Star second-place finisher Sun Thunder and recent Tampa Bay Downs allowance winner Kingsbarns.
Two horses have won both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby: Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996). In 2019, longshot Kentucky Derby winner Country House was fourth in the Louisiana Derby before winning the roses. And, last year, Epicenter won the Louisiana Derby en route to second-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Race Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
Post Time: 3:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
Distance: 1 3/16 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
This is the field for the 2023 Louisiana Derby, drawn by the Fair Grounds racing office. Twelve horses entered the race. With such a huge field featuring both proven stakes horses and improving newcomers, the race will be an exciting betting opportunity.
These are the runners, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning lines.
|1||Shopper’s Revenge||Steve Asmussen||Ricardo Santana||12-1|
|2||Instant Coffee||Brad Cox||Luis Saez||2-1|
|3||Curly Jack||Tom Amoss||Edgar Morales||12-1|
|4||Sun Thunder||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||5-1|
|5||Disarm||Steve Asmussen||Joel Rosario||10-1|
|6||Kingsbarns||Todd Pletcher||Flavien Prat||6-1|
|7||Cagliostro||Cherie DeVaux||Cristian Torres||12-1|
|8||Single Ruler||Keith Desormeaux||David Cohen||15-1|
|9||Tapit’s Conquest||Brad Cox||Manny Franco||10-1|
|10||Denington||Ken McPeek||Junior Alvarado||12-1|
|11||Jace’s Road||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux||20-1|
|12||Baseline Beater||Neil Pessin||Corey Lanerie||20-1|
Five of the 12 runners in the Louisiana Derby come out of points races at Fair Grounds. Though Risen Star winner Angel of Empire does not return for the Louisiana Derby, three do come back for this: second-place Sun Thunder, fourth-place Tapit’s Conquest, and fifth-place Single Ruler. Two more race here after their last running in the Lecomte: winner Instant Coffee and eighth-place Curly Jack. The only other runner who comes from stakes company is Jace’s Road, who was most recently fifth behind Arabian Knight in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn.
Five of the other runners come out of allowance company. Denington and Cagliostro ran 1-2, separated by only a neck, in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Fair Grounds on the Risen Star undercard. Kingsbarns comes out of a first-level allowance win at Tampa, while both Shopper’s Revenge and Disarm come out of second-place attempts in allowance races at Oaklawn. Only Baseline Beater faces winners for the first time; he broke his maiden at Fair Grounds on the Risen Star undercard, in his fifth career start.
These are the contenders in the 2023 Louisiana Derby, organized by post position:
Shopper’s Revenge: He drew a tough post for his first career stakes race, the far inside in a field of twelve. He also has to improve in terms of speed against these more proven foes. On the plus side, he has been strong since switching to a route, and has shown the ability to run well from both the front end and off the pace. His pedigree also appeals strongly for the stretch out, as he is by Tapit out of top distaffer, Stopchargingmaria.
Instant Coffee: One of the top horses on the Kentucky Derby trail, he impressed in both the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last year and in the Lecomte, his three-year-old debut. A midpack-to-closing type, he is best suited if there is a sharp pace ahead of him, though he proved in the Kentucky Jockey Club that he does not need a torrid pace to muster up a winning race.
Curly Jack: He disappointed in the Risen Star, finishing eighth, but trainer Tom Amoss keeps him on the Derby trail. Amoss does well with runners coming second off the lay, and he stepped forward second off a freshening last fall as well. Whether he wants the 1 3/16 miles is enough of a question to demand a price, but his tactical speed should help him carve out a trip that gives him a chance.
Sun Thunder: He improved off of his fourth-place finish in the Southwest two starts back, finishing second in the Risen Star a month ago. He moved just a little early into a torrid pace, just getting outkicked in the end by Angel Empire. The distance raises a question as well; he is by Into Mischief out of a family whose class has come sprinting, raising serious questions about how much he wants 1 3/16 miles.
Disarm: This tracking to midpack type steps up to stakes company for the first time. He ran a solid second last out, given that it was his first time at two turns and given that he broke a bit slow. Given how that was his first start at two turns, he may naturally be a bit closer up, even, going this longer trip. His pedigree appeals for the further step out in trip, and trainer Steve Asmussen often moves horses forward second off the lay.
Kingsbarns: This Todd Pletcher buzz horse, an $800,000 purchase for Spendthrift, is undefeated in two starts in Florida and has shown tactical speed both times. This is his first step up into stakes company, though he ran his previous races fast enough to suggest he fits against these tougher foes. And, though it would be nice to see Luis Saez reunite after the maiden win, you can’t hold it against Kingsbarns that Saez sticks with the long-proven Instant Coffee.
Cagliostro: He broke his maiden by open lengths in his first two-turn try, though he missed by a neck to Denington last out in his first start against winners. That race was a step forward, though, and he showed both tactical speed and late grit. He likes Fair Grounds, and he has some chance to stretch out as well. All in all, he has a shot to find exotics at a price if he keeps moving forward – something likely, given trainer Cherie DeVaux’s trend of finding further improvement third off the lay.
Single Ruler: A later-maturing son of Empire Maker, he needed five starts to break his maiden. He ran on mildly for fifth last out in the Risen Star, running back to what was expected off his maiden with but perhaps even a little disappointing given what a fast, favorable pace he got to close into last time. The distance suits his pedigree, but the pace may not be quite as torrid this time, meaning lower exotics might be his ceiling.
Tapit’s Conquest: He broke his maiden at first-time two turns last October, and has been well bet but beaten in both starts since. He is another who got a favorable closing setup last out in the Risen Star, though he flattened out a bit to finish fourth. His pedigree suggests he may ultimately like this trip; he is by Tapit, and though damsire Horse Greeley is a point against him, the female family is replete with turf routers. But, he needs a step forward and may be overbet.
Denington: With eight starts, he has no shortage of experience, and he comes back into stakes company off of an allowance win at Fair Grounds. His stakes debut at two was a promising one, where he finished fifth, beaten only 1 ½ lengths in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). However, his two stakes tries this year have had him well back, and the question is whether he has developed to the same level as top three-year-old stakes horses. That said, trainer Ken McPeek has caught a hot streak lately.
Jace’s Road: Winner of the Gun Runner two back, he was well beaten in a sloppy Southwest (G3) last out. However, his two sloppy-track tries have been poor, but his three fast-track races have been excellent. The layoff is a positive, as well, as his two wins have come in his two fresh starts. The far-outside post is a drawback, but with Geroux in the irons and track conditions on his side, don’t sleep on him.
Baseline Beater: The only horse in the Louisiana Derby who hasn’t faced winners yet, he has to deal with a tough far-outside post against the best horses he has ever seen. Though he has built a nice rapport with jockey Corey Lanerie in his last two, he has not run a race fast enough to be a factor here, and his deep-closing style cries out for more pace than he probably gets in this.
The Risen Star is kind of the prep race for the Louisiana Derby. In the last ten years, six of the winners of the Louisiana Derby came out of the Risen Star. All ran well, though not all won. International Star (2015), Gun Runner (2016), Girvin (2017), and Epicenter (2022) took top honors, whereas Vicar’s In Trouble (2014) and Noble Indy (2018) ran third.
It is worth noting that no horse in the last ten years has come straight from the Lecomte, or even a Fair Grounds race on Lecomte day, to win the Louisiana Derby. Though By My Standards (2019) came from a maiden race at Fair Grounds to win the race, that maiden win came on the Risen Star undercard.
Just three of the last ten winners of the Louisiana Derby did not last run at Fair Grounds; all came from graded company. Revolutionary (2013) was last seen winning the Withers (G3), Wells Bayou (2020) was second in the Southwest (G3), and Hot Rod Charlie (2021) was third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3).
The Louisiana Derby is the 12th race on Saturday’s 15-race card at Fair Grounds, and the last of eight stakes scheduled for the day. Oaks-bound fillies take center stage in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), handicap males contest the New Orleans Classic (G2), and older turf horses take the spotlight in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2).
Ungraded stakes include the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older turf fillies and mares, as well as three undercard events for Louisiana-bred horses. With big fields and class company all day long, it is a perfect time to watch FanDuel TV all day long and place your bets with FanDuel and TVG!
The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.
That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.
Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.
A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid, and then the facility was sold in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.
Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006, and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.
Q: When is the Louisiana Derby?
A: The 2023 Louisiana Derby happens Saturday, March 25 at 5:42 p.m. Central Daylight Time. It is the 12th of 15 races carded at Fair Grounds.
Q: Where is the Louisiana Derby?
A: It takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Louisiana Derby?
A: Two trainers, both still active, have won the race four times. Todd Pletcher won it in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2018; he comes to the 2023 edition with Kingsbarns. Steve Asmussen won in 2001, 2008, 2016, and 2022; he sends out Shopper’s Revenge and Disarm.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Louisiana Derby?
A: Lecomte winner Instant Coffee, for trainer Brad Cox and jockey Luis Saez, has been named the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the 2023 Louisiana Derby.
Q: Who is the best Louisiana Derby jockey?
A: The now-retired jockey Pat Day rode the winner five times. Among jockeys with a horse in the 2023 edition of the race, Joel Rosario has won the last two editions with Hot Rod Charlie and Epicenter, and this year he will ride Disarm. Florent Geroux, who won with Gun Runner (2016) and Wells Bayou (2020), takes the call on Jace’s Road for Brad Cox.
Q: Who won the 2022 Louisiana Derby?
A: Epicenter, for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario, ran to the money in the 2022 edition of the Louisiana Derby. This time Asmussen and Rosario team up behind a price horse, Disarm.
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