Louisiana's road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) kicks off Jan. 16 with the $200,000 TwinSpires LeComte Stakes (gr. III), along with a sister race for Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) hopefuls in the $150,000 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
With next Saturday's card drawn Jan. 8, an overflow field was entered for the mile and 70-yard LeComte, while the Silverbulletday drew eight, led by Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III) winner Jet Black Magic.
The LeComte features Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. III) third-place finisher Mo Tom, an Uncle Mo colt who took the Street Sense Stakes one start prior and then made a good inside gaining run from far back in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Nov. 28. Tom Amoss trains for G M B Racing, and regular rider Corey Lanerie has the mount from post 7 on the co-highweight.
Shouldering 122 pounds, Mo Tom shares top impost assignments with last year's Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile Stakes winner Pinnacle Peak. The Yes It's True colt struggled in the autumn of his 2-year-old season for Mike Stidham with a 10th in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) and an eighth in the Street Sense, but came back Dec. 18 to win a Fair Grounds allowance at the LeComte distance by a game neck. Florent Geroux will ride from the 10 hole.
Looking to step up are allowance winners Riding in the Wind and Tiznoble, the latter assigned 118 (all others carry 116). Maiden winners Fish Trappe Road, Uncle Walter, Z Royal—trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for the connections of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah —Dolphus, (a half brother to champion Rachel Alexandra), Battle Tap, Indygo Breeze, Mending Fences, and Destin complete the field, along with the maiden Tarpon Bay Road.
In the Silverbulletday Stakes, run at the same distance, Jet Black Magic shares highweight assignment of 122 pounds with her fellow Bret Calhoun trainee More Than Most and Golden Rod (gr. II) runner-up Stageplay from the barn of Steve Asmussen. While Jet Black Magic took the Nov. 21 Delta Princess by 4 1/4 lengths, More Than Most has not raced since an Oct. 3 victory in the M2 Technology La Seniorita Stakes at Retama Park. Stageplay's Golden Rod second to Carina Mia came Nov. 28, snapping a two-race win streak that included her debut at Keeneland and the Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Allowance winners Midnight On Oconee, Lovable Lyss, and Annabelle complete the lineup, along with maiden winners Northwest Tale and Banner Waving. Banner Waving is a daughter of Speightstown out of Freedom Flag, a daughter of the grade I-winning A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors, herself a half sister to the dam of Horse of the Year and top sire Mineshaft .
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 16, 2016, Race 11 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 16, 2016, Race 9
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Riding in the Wind (OH) Juan P. Vargas 116 Jose L. Lopez 30/1 2 2Fish Trappe Road (NY) Robby Albarado 116 W. Bret Calhoun 6/1 3 3Uncle Walter (KY) Miguel Mena 116 Michael J. Maker 6/1 4 4Z Royal (KY) Victor Espinoza 116 D. Wayne Lukas 15/1 5 5Dolphus (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 116 Joe Sharp 10/1 6 6Noble Thought (KY) Colby J. Hernandez 116 Michael Stidham 10/1 7 7Mo Tom (KY) Corey J. Lanerie 122 Thomas M. Amoss 7/2 8 8Battle Tap (KY) Patrick A. Valenzuela 116 Steven M. Asmussen 10/1 9 9Indygo Breeze (KY) Mitchell Murrill 116 John Haran 50/1 10 10Pinnacle Peak (KY) Florent Geroux 122 Michael Stidham 8/1 11 11Tiznoble (KY) Jose Valdivia, Jr. 118 Joe Sharp 10/1 12 12Mending Fences (KY) Richard E. Eramia 116 Danny Pish 20/1 13 13Destin (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Todd A. Pletcher 6/1 14 14Tarpon Bay Road (KY) James Graham 116 James E. Baker 20/1 15 15Tom's Ready (PA) Shaun Bridgmohan 116 Dallas Stewart 5/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Jet Black Magic (LA) Colby J. Hernandez 122 W. Bret Calhoun 5/1 2 2Banner Waving (KY) Robby Albarado 116 Neil J. Howard 20/1 3 3Annabelle (KY) Shaun Bridgmohan 120 Brad H. Cox 8/1 4 4Lovable Lyss (KY) Francisco C. Torres 118 Hugh H. Robertson 4/1 5 5More Than Most (TX) Jamie Theriot 122 W. Bret Calhoun 6/1 6 6Midnight On Oconee (KY) James Graham 118 J. Larry Jones 6/1 7 7Northwest Tale (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 116 Dallas Stewart 8/1 8 8Stageplay (KY) Florent Geroux 122 Steven M. Asmussen 8/5
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 16, 2016, Race 11
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 16, 2016, Race 9