Kentucky Derby points are up for grabs in a contentious renewal of the LeComte Stakes this Saturday.
Fair Grounds Race 12 (Post time: 6:49 p.m. Eastern)
The Grade III, $200,000 LeComte Stakes
One mile and 70 yards on dirt.
A field of 14 with one also-eligible has signed on for Saturday’s LeComte Stakes, the first stepping stone on the Fair Grounds’ road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby that culminates in late March with the Louisiana Derby. The three-year-old colts will vie for a total of 17 Kentucky Derby points, 10 of which will be awarded to the winner. The morning-line favorite is #12 PLUS QUE PARFAIT (9-2), who seems vulnerable in a wide-open (and potentially muddy) renewal of this race. There are two other contenders at bigger prices that stand out on paper as potential victors.
#3 TACKETT (6-1) is the top selection in the 2019 LeComte Stakes. He was third in his career unveiling at Maryland’s Laurel Park before shipping to the Fair Grounds, where he’s reeled off two straight victories.
TACKETT graduated from the maiden level with a 7 1/2-length gate-to-wire victory before pouncing from off the pace in his first start against winners. The margin of victory there was just a neck, but he showed good tenacity in fending off Owendale, the second-choice in the betting that day. TACKETT continues to work well in the mornings for one of Louisiana’s best trainers, Michael Stidham, and will be ridden by Joe Bravo once more as he makes his stakes debut in the LeComte.
#7 ROILAND (12-1) was last seen checking in fifth in November’s Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on a sloppy main course. Rain could once again inhibit his chances in the LeComte, but ROILAND deserves another chance at what looks like a square price.
Trainer Tom Amoss, perennially among the leading trainers at the Fair Grounds, will add blinkers to ROILAND in an attempt to focus better, especially at the gate. The son of Successful Appeal has dawdled at the start in two straight efforts. James Graham, the leading rider at the New Orleans oval as of Thursday morning, sees fit to pick up the mount on ROILAND, who has been working lights-out in preparation for this.
PLUS QUE PARFAIT was second beaten just a neck by Signalman in the aforementioned Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. It took him three starts to break his maiden, and he did so by just a nose over Harvey Wallbanger, who has demonstrated some “hanging” tendencies early in his career. PLUS QUE PARFAIT is best used underneath despite Julien Leparoux shipping in to ride.
The play: $2 exacta box 3/7/12, $4 win 3,7 ($20)