For Virginia Kraft Payson's Scipion, the long stretch at Fair Grounds beckons once again, as the Patrick Biancone-trained colt returns to New Orleans for the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) Saturday in an attempt to duplicate his stirring victory in the Feb. 12 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III).
This should be a tougher test for Scipion, who will be joined by fellow Californian Sort it Out, from the barn of Bob Baffert, as well as Florida invaders High Limit, Kansas City Boy, Vicarage, Wallstreet Scandal, and Indy Storm. They will be representing trainers Bobby Frankel, Kenny McPeek, Todd Pletcher, Richard Violette, and Nick Zito, respectively. The small local contingent of Real Dandy and Storm Surge, the respective second and third-place finishers in the Risen Star, rounds out the field of nine.
Scipion, who again will be ridden by Gary Stevens, unleashed an explosive last-to-first move in the Risen Star to charge past the leaders in the final furlong. The son of A.P. Indy
, who cost $1.9 million as a yearling, will break from post 7.
Many were under the impression Sort it Out was off the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail after a majority interest was purchased by Stonerside Stable. But Baffert said that was not the case.
"He was never off the trail," he said. "I just had to put weight on him. He will need this race but should move forward. One thing about this horse, he will run all day."
Robby Albarado picks up the mount on the son of Out of Place
, who is coming off a victory in the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct. He breaks from the rail.
Zito, who already has four solid Derby horses in his barn, is hoping to add one more with Indy Storm, even though the son of A.P. Indy
has been out of the money in his last two starts after breaking his maiden at Calder.
"I'm excited about him," Zito said. "He worked in 1:00 the other day and did it just the way I wanted him to. He went head and head with an older horse, Broadway View, and went absolutely beautiful. I want to see in this race what we've missed. I just want him to have a chance to run, and Larry Melancon will be on him and he'll get him in position to give him that chance. The light bulb obviously hasn't gone on yet. He did break his maiden impressively at Calder, but that was in the slop. He had a terrible trip last time out. He's a big, heavy horse and he's fit now, and coming back in two weeks, so we'll see what we got. If we're wrong we're wrong, but I think you'll see a different horse this time."
Kansas City Boy, second in the Holy Bull (gr. III) and third in the LeComte, had been entered in last Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), but was scratched after drawing post 2. McPeek wants the son of Boston Harbor to learn to come off the pace, and he felt drawing the inside would make it harder for him to do that. so, he gambled that he'd draw outside in the Louisiana Derby, and won, drawing post 9. He'll be ridden again by Brice Blanc.
The most intriguing horse in the field is High Limit, who will be making his 3-year-old debut after winning both his starts impressively at Delaware Park last October for Tony Dutrow. He has since been turned over to Frankel by owners Gary and Mary West, and has become the buzz horse at Santa Anita. The son of Maria's Mon
will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.
Vicarage was third in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes to stablemate Proud Accolade, who was slated to run in the Louisiana Derby, but came down with a fever earlier in the week.Louisiana Derby Field:PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey, Trainer
1 -- Sort it Out, 122, R. Albarado, Bob Baffert
2 -- Storm Surge, 122, Jerry Bailey, Dallas Stewart
3 -- High Limit, 122, Ramon Dominguez, Bobby Frankel
4 -- Real Dandy, 122, Donnie Meche, Steve Asmussen
5 -- Indy Storm, 122, Larry Melancon, Nick Zito
6 -- Wallstreet Scandal, 122, Rafael Bejarano, Richard Violette
7 -- Scipion, 122, Gary Stevens, Patrick Biancone
8 -- Vicarage, 122, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher
9 -- Kansas City Boy, 122, Brice Blanc, Kenny McPeek