The $175,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ first graded 3-year-old race leading up to the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II), drew a field of 13, a handful of them thought to be early Triple Crown prospects.
Four sophomores will share top weight of 122 pounds in the one mile and 70-yard dirt contest Jan. 21. Jerry Namy’s Shared Property is one of two graded stakes winners in the field, having won the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) last September on Polytrack. Shared Property is trained by Tom Amoss, who delivered a big upset in this race in 2009 with Ron the Greek. A son of Scat Daddy, Shared Property drew the outside post and is the 4-1 morning-line favorite.
"He’s training really well now,” Amoss said last week after the colt worked six furlongs in 1:15 4/5. “He still has not won going two turns and that’s one of the things we’re anxiously looking for at this time. The Lecomte should be a good starting point for us, but the screws may not be completely tight just yet on this horse. I expect him to run very well, but we’re also thinking about the rest of the year.”
The other graded winner is Stoneway Farm’s Exfactor, who scored the Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs last summer and has a win over the track in his most recent start, the Dec. 17 Sugar Bowl Stakes at six furlongs.
Oklahoma-bred Ted's Folly rides a six-race win streak into the Lecomte, his most recent victory coming in the Springboard Mile at his home track of Remington Park Dec. 10. Larry Jones, who has won two of the last five Lecomte renewals, will send out Brereton Jones’ homebred Mr. Bowling, a stakes winner at Delaware Park and third last out in the Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
“He has been training very well since he got here,” said Larry Jones last week. “We’re very happy with him. Obviously, Mr. Bowling likes this track a lot, but we also want to think he’s just getting better. He seems to be maturing more and more every day."
Though they are not stakes winners yet, one can be sure that Zayat Stables’ coupled entry of Dan and Sheila and Z Dager will draw a lot of betting attention. Dan and Sheila, a debut maiden winner at Gulfstream Park Dec. 17, is trained by Todd Pletcher. Z Dager broke his maiden at Fair Grounds Dec. 15 at second asking and is trained by Steve Asmussen, who won this race twice including 2008 with Zayat’s Z Fortune.
Another horse with high hopes is Seven Lively Sins, a son of Stormy Atlantic trained and co-owned by Al Stall Jr. Seven Lively Sins was fourth in the Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) most recently, but prior to that finished second in the Iroquois after breaking his maiden at Keeneland. Rosie Napravnik takes over riding duties from Julien Leparoux on the 9-2 second choice.
Another one to consider is David Randal’s Capetown Devil, who enters the Lecomte undefeated in three starts. This will be the first stakes action for the Cape Town gelding after running for a tag when breaking his maiden at Keeneland, moving to starter allowance company at Churchill for his next start, and narrowly winning an optional claimer Dec. 31 at Fair Grounds. Capetown Devil is trained by David Carroll, who won this event in 2004 with Fire Slam.
The Lecomte is the last of six stakes on Fair Grounds’ 13-race card. It has a 4:55 CST post. The $300,000 Risen Star (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles is the next stop for Derby hopefuls in Louisiana.
The 3-year-old fillies will also get their first important test of the year at Fair Grounds on Saturday in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes. Though it is no longer graded, the one mile and 70-yard Silverbulletday is a tune-up for the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra (gr. III) on Feb. 25. The series culminates with the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) on March 31.
A field of only six will go in the Silverbulletday and all eyes will be on Applauding, the undefeated daughter of Congrats who has turned heads in both of her starts. Owned by Ramona Bass and trained by Stall, Applauding broke her maiden in track record time Oct. 14 on the Keeneland Polytrack, running six furlong in 1:07.76 in her debut while winning by nine lengths. In her next start, the chestnut filly rolled by six more lengths in a first-level allowance race Dec. 2 at Fair Grounds, going wire-to-wire, again at six furlongs. A $370,000 2-year-old buy, she will now stretch out for the first time under Shane Sellers.
The high weight in the field is Believe You Can, a homebred of Brereton Jones trained by Larry Jones. The Proud Citizen filly won the Tempted (gr. III) at Belmont in October.
$125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (Race 6, 2:28 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile, 70 Yards (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Yvete Sangalo (MEX), S Bridgmohan, 120, K Craddock
2. Inny Minnie (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, S Margolis
3. Always Here Too (KY), J Graham, 118, T M Amoss
4. Believe You Can (KY), R Napravnik, 122, J L Jones
5. Applauding (FL), S J Sellers, 118, A M Stall Jr.
6. Summer Applause (KY), R Albarado, 118, W B Calhoun
$175,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III, Race 11, 4:45 p.m.), 3YO, 1 mile, 70 Yards (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Adena's Chance (FL), M St. Julien, 116, G Dorochenko
2. Ted's Folly (OK), J A Medina, 122, W L Brown
3. Mr. Bowling (KY), R Albarado, 122, J L Jones
4. Exfactor (KY), S Bridgmohan, 122, B S Flint
5. Dan and Sheila (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher
6. Z Dager (KY), S J Sellers, 116, S M Asmussen
7. Seven Lively Sins (KY), R Napravnik, 116, A M Stall Jr.
8. Alexander Thegreat (KY), J Jacinto, 116, B C Barnett
9. Hammers Terror (KY), J Graham, 118, M Stidham
10. Hero of Order (KY), I V Diego, 116, G Dorochenko
11. Chalybeate Springs (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 116, D W Lukas
12. Capetown Devil (KY), C J Lanerie, 118, D M Carroll
13. Shared Property (KY), L R Goncalves, 122, T M Amoss
Coupled Entries: Adena's Chance, Hero of Order
Coupled Entries: Dan and Sheila, Z Dager