My Boy Jack ML Favorite
A field of 10 is entered in the 105th running of the Louisiana Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com.
The million-dollar race is scheduled as the 11th on a mammoth 14-race card and is the last leg of a $200,000 guaranteed all-stakes pick four.
Fair Grounds oddsmaker Mike Diliberto lists My Boy Jack as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the event. The son of Creative Cause was a 41/4-length winner of the Southwest Stakes on a muddy track at Oaklawn Park last time out. My Boy Jack raced primarily on the turf as a 2-year-old and broke his maiden at fifth asking in Santa Anita’s Zuma Beach Stakes on Oct. 9. He finished seventh behind Mendelssohn in the Gr. I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
My Boy Jack boasts lifetime earnings of $425,145 and has missed the board only twice in eight career starts. He is trained by Keith Desormeaux, a native of Maurice, La. who trained horses on the Louisiana circuit for many years until relocating to Southern California.
“As soon as he crossed the wire in Arkansas, we started thinking about our next move,” Desormeaux said. “When you win over a track, it makes sense to run right back there, but Sol Kumin brought up a good point. The Rebel is not an equal weights race, so off a graded stakes win, we would be at an immediate disadvantage. The Louisiana Derby is equal weights and there are twice as many points offered. It gives us an extra week, one million is a monster pot, and if we are forced to scratch or have an unlucky trip, there is time to get into another prep race and still make the Kentucky Derby.”
My Boy Jack has 12 Kentucky Derby points. He will be piloted by Desormeaux’s brother, Kent Desormeaux. Both are in search of a first Louisiana Derby win.
Bravazo invaded from Oaklawn Park to take last month’s Risen Star Stakes by a nose over Snapper Sinclair. Both return in the Louisiana Derby.
Bravazo, a son of Awesome Again, has won both of his starts as a 3-year-old. Before the Risen Star, Bravazo won an allowance race at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 13. He has breezed four times at the Hot Springs oval in preparation for the Louisiana Derby, including two five-furlong drills. On March 12, he worked the distance in 1:00.00; on March 19, he stopped the clock in 59.60.
As a 2-year-old, Bravazo broke his maiden second time out before finishing second behind Free Drop Billy in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Bravazo, has won the Louisiana Derby twice with Balboa Native (1983) and eventual Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone (1996).
Miguel Mena, who won the Risen Star on Bravazo, is sidelined with an injury. Gary Stevens guided Bravazo to his allowance win at Oaklawn Park and will be reunited with the horse on Saturday. He will break from the rail as the 7-2 co-second choice.
Also at 7-2 is Noble Indy, third-place finisher of the Risen Star Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the Louisiana Derby with Circular Quay (2007) Mission Impazable (2010) and Revolutionary (2013). The 3-year-old son of Take Charge Indy was handed his first loss in the Risen Star after a pair of victories at Gulfstream Park – an 8 3/4-length maiden romp and a three-quarter length triumph against winners on Jan. 11. John Velazquez will guide Noble Indy, who breaks from post 2.
Noble Indy will probably be accompanied by stable mate Hyndford, a son of Street Cry who was second behind stable mate Magnum Moon at Tampa Bay Downs last month and broke his maiden second time out for a $50,000 tag at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19. Joe Bravo is set to ride Hyndford, who drew post six. His morning line is 8-1.
Steve Asmussen sends two for the Louisiana Derby. Snapper Sinclair will be seeking revenge after being edged by Bravazo in the Risen Star. The son of City Zip also finished in the money in the LeComte in January but has still yet to find a victory on dirt. He was a dual winner on grass as a 2-year-old when breaking his maiden over the Saratoga turf course and winning the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs in September. He breaks from post 6 at a morning line of 9-2.
Asmussen will also be represented by Retirement Fund, who'll break from post five under Shaun Bridgmohan. His morning line is 12-1. Retirement Fund is a two-time wire-to-wire winner over the Fair Grounds main track and returns to New Orleans following a disappointing seventh in the Southwest, when Asmussen said he never leveled off in the mud. He broke his maiden in his career debut on Dec. 22 by 7 1/4 lengths at 12-1 odds and led the field from start to finish once more against winners on Jan. 20.
Asmussen is a three-time winner of the Louisiana Derby with Fifty Stars (2002), Pyro (2008) and reigning Horse of the Year Gun Runner (2016).
Finishing second to Retirement Fund two starts back is Dark Templar, who since that effort won a Fair Grounds allowance event on Feb. 19 for trainer Brendan Walsh. The son of Tapit made his career debut a winning one over the Churchill Downs main track on Nov. 4 defeating next out winner Royal Creed. He was a $475,000 purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 and is a direct descendant of undefeated Champion Personal Ensign. A 12-1 morning line, he breaks from post 10 under Florent Geroux.
Lone Sailor is installed in post 8 with James Graham named to ride. His morning line is 20-1 following a late-closing second behind Dark Templar last time out. He's in search of his first win since an 11-length maiden victory at Saratoga last summer. Trained by Tom Amoss, the son of Majestic Warrior finished third in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and was second, beaten a head, in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs in October.
Valene Farms’ Givemeaminit is also 20-1 will look to give trainer Dallas Stewart his first Louisiana Derby victory since Kimberlite Pipe in 1999. As a 2-year-old, the Louisiana-bred had been knocking on the door against some of the best in his division. Such starts include a trio of appearances in grade I events where he was third in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, only a neck behind Sporting Chance and Free Drop Billy. He then finished a respective fifth and fourth in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar. It was not until seventh asking when Givemeaminit found the winner’s circle against fellow Louisiana-breds in his sophomore debut. He will look to give his sire Star Guitar his first graded stakes victory as a stallion. Javier Castellano will ride from post 4.
Rounding out the field is Olympia Star Inc.’s Marmello (post three, Jack Gilligan, 50-1) who is the lone maiden in the Louisiana Derby field. The son of Concord Point is cross-entered in a maiden special weight event earlier on Saturday’s card.
The Louisiana Derby is the final of three local preps on Churchill Downs Road To The Kentucky Derby and awards points to the Top 4 finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale.
Edited Fair Grounds release with additional content by Dick Downey
1 Bravazo 7-2 (G Stevens);
2 Noble Indy 7-2 (J Velazquez);
3 Marmello 50-1 (J Gilligan);
4 Givemeaminut 20-1 (Javier Castelllano);
5 Retirement Fund 12-1 (S Bridgmohan);
6 Hyndford 8-1 (J Bravo);
7 Snapper Sinclair 9-2 (J Ortiz);
8 Lone Sailor 20-1 (J Graham);
9 My Boy Jack 5-2 (K Desormeaux);
10 Dark Templar 12-1 (F Geroux).
Blinkers on: Noble Indy