Magic Man’s 2020 Louisiana Derby Preview

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Although I have not been active as an online prognosticator this season, that does not mean I have not been paying close attention to the horse racing scene thus far in 2020.

There have been a good bit of Derby prep races thus far but we all now know that the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September 5th due to the coronavirus. This has been an absolutely strange last few weeks in the sports world; for those of us who cover different sports, we thrive on going through the high points of each one. For me, I savor the prep races for the Kentucky Derby and the challenge of trying to figure out who will win the all important prep races and who will contend best in Triple Crown races.

On Saturday, the Fair Grounds presents its 107th running of the Louisiana Derby, the centerpiece of a great card in New Orleans. This year the Derby drew an overflow field of 16 three-year olds but a maximum of 14 will run. Another drastic change (other than the lack of fans in the stands due to the social distancing measures we’re all taking) is the distance of the big race. The Louisiana Derby now encompasses 1 mile and 3/16th, matching the distance of the Preakness.

Although there are no on-track wagers to be made and all Louisiana OTB’s are closed, there are still other tracks who pick up the Fair Grounds broadcast along with fans around the country who can watch on NBCSN.

Your early morning line favorite is Enforceable who drew post 10. On paper, he figures to benefit from a potentially salty pace. Enforceable draws Julien Leparoux for the riding assignment, and his trainer Mark Casse will try to punch this horse’s ticket to the Kentucky Derby after last year’s horrible luck with War of Will who went on to win the Preakness.

Wells Bayou also looks to be a big player after he ran a bang-up second to Silver Prospector in the Southwest at Oaklawn in his most recent start.

On paper there are a bevy of contenders who can win this race so that presents a difficult challenge as well as exciting opportunities on wagers. The Magic Man is ready to tackle this challenge, and below is my horse by horse synopsis of this year’s Louisiana Derby.

RACE 12 Louisiana Derby (Grade II) POST TIME – 4:49 PM
PP (RACE 12)
Exacta / $0.50 Trifecta / $0.10 Superfecta
Fair Grounds STAKES
Purse $1,000,000. For Three Year Olds. One And Three Sixteenth Miles.

P# PP Horse 
1 1 Major Fed (KY) J Rosario G D Foley 8/1
2 2 Mailman Money (KY) G Saez W B Calhoun 15/1
3 3 Wells Bayou (KY) F Geroux B H Cox 8/1
4 4 Chestertown (NY) J R Velazquez S M Asmussen 15/1
5 5 Social Afleet (LA) A Beschizza D Stewart 50/1
6 6 Shake Some Action (KY) C J Hernandez B H Cox 15/1
7 7 Sharecropper (KY)  M Mena A M Stall, Jr. 20/1
8 8 Royal Act (KY) A Cedillo P Eurton 10/1
9 9 Portos (KY) I Ortiz, Jr. T A Pletcher 8/1
10 10 Enforceable (KY) J R Leparoux M E Casse 7/2
11 11 Ny Traffic (NY) L Saez S A Joseph, Jr. 15/1
12 12 Lynn’s Map (KY) T Gaffalione M E Casse 30/1
13 13 Silver State (KY) R Santana, Jr. S M Asmussen 6/1
14 14 Modernist (KY) J Alvarado W I Mott 6/1
Also Eligibles:
15 15 Mr. Big News (KY) R Albarado W B Calhoun 20/1
16 16 Farmington Road (KY) J Castellano T A Pletcher 12/1

Owners: 1 – Lloyd Madison Farms IV, LLC (Fred Schwartz, et al) ; 2 – Allied Racing Stable, LLC (Chester Thomas) ; 3 – Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, LLC (Sol Kumin) and Wonder Stables (Marc Lore) ; 4 – West Point Thoroughbreds, LLC (Terrence Finley), Chester Broman Sr., Mary Broman, Woodford Racing, LLC (William S. Farish, Jr., et al), Siena Farm, LLC (Anthony Manganaro) and Robert Masiello ; 5 – Valene Farms (John and Murray Valene) ; 6 – Rupp Racing (Jim Rupp) ; 7 – Spendthrift Farm, LLC (B. Wayne Hughes) ; 8 – C R K Stable (Lee Searing) ; 9 – Wertheimer et Frere (Gerald and Alan Wertheimer and Charles Heilbronn) ; 10 – John C. Oxley ; 11 – John Fanelli, Cash is King, LLC (Charles J. Zacney), LC Racing (Glen Bennett) and Paul Braverman ; 12 – HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud ; 13 – Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC (Joan and Ron Winchell) and Willis Horton Racing, LLC (Willis D. Horton) ; 14 – Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Wygod ; 15 – Allied Racing Stable, LLC (Chester Thomas) ; 16 – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman), Robert V. LaPenta, and Chrysalis Stables, LLC (Stephanie Clark)
Breeders: 1 – Lloyd Madison IV, LLC; 2 – TK Stables LLC; 3 – Knowles Bloodstock, Inc.; 4 – Chester Broman & Mary R. Broman; 5 – Tom Curtis & Wayne Simpson; 6 – Edgar Scott Jr. & Jane MacElree; 7 – WinStar Farm, LLC; 8 – Stonehaven Steadings; 9 – Wertheimer et Frere; 10 – Clearsky Farms; 11 – Brian Culnan; 12 – Alastar Thoroughbred Company, LLC; 13 – Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC; 14 – Wygod Family, LLC; 15 – Don Alberto Corporation; 16 – Chrysalis Stables
Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Ghostzapper – Bobby’s Babe , by Smart Strike ; 2 – Goldencents – Running Debi C , by Unbridled’s Song ; 3 – Lookin At Lucky – Whispering Angel , by Hard Spun ; 4 – Tapit – Artemis Agrotera , by Roman Ruler ; 5 – Northern Afleet – So Social , by Proud Truth ; 6 – Into Mischief – Tiz a Chick , by Tiznow ; 7 – Pioneerof the Nile – Blue Violet , by Curlin ; 8 – American Pharoah – True Feelings , by Latent Heat ; 9 – Tapit – Fierce Boots , by Tiznow ; 10 – Tapit – Justwhistledixie , by Dixie Union ; 11 – Cross Traffic – Mamie Reilly , by Graeme Hall ; 12 – Liam’s Map – Puxa Saco , by Dehere ; 13 – Hard Spun – Supreme , by Empire Maker ; 14 – Uncle Mo – Symbolic Gesture , by Bernardini ; 15 – Giant’s Causeway – Unappeased (IRE) , by Galileo (IRE) ; 16 – Quality Road – Silver La Belle , by Langfuhr ;
Sire of Mailman Money standing at Spendthrift Farm
Sire of Shake Some Action standing at Spendthrift Farm
Sire of Ny Traffic standing at Spendthrift Farm
Sire of Lynn’s Map standing at Lanes End
Sire of Farmington Road standing at Lane’s End

Equipment Changes: 11 – Ny Traffic – Blinkers On;16 – Farmington Road – Blinkers On


1-Major Fed: He showed his quality in his last out, running a big second in the second division of the Risen Star. He looks to take a step forward here and attracts Joel Rosario who flies in from California for the mount. I liked how he ran in his last race; what seems appealing is he can move forward. However, he faces a deeper field than what he ran against previously and also his trainer has not hit on this big a stage. Mixed signals for me on this guy but he’s still a ‘Major’ one to keep an eye on.

2-Mailman Money: His trainer Bret Calhoun looks for a repeat triumph in the Louisiana Derby. This mailman delivered a fourth to the rail horse in his last race but had an legitimate excuse since he was parked wide early; that appeared to compromise his finish. He stayed on to be fourth and draws a better post here. If he can progress, he might have a chance. Remember, Calhoun surprised last year so if you feel this one is ready to take the nect step, it is not the worst stab in the world.

3-Wells Bayou: Coming off a gutty second place finish at Oaklawn in the Southwest in his last, he will be one of a handful who will challenge for the early lead. His connections are top notch and have a horse who has produced good enough figures to win. The projected pace setup does not work in his favor though. I feel he would be a mild surprise if he were to survive this setup.

4-Chestertown: Making the third start off the form cycle, this sure looks like a tall task. A very respectable trainer in Steve Asmussen and Hall of Famer John Velasquez to ride means you cannot dismiss him off hand but I do not see a scenario in which this horse hangs around when the running starts.

5-Social Afleet: Dallas Stewart trains this horse and has been known to spring big prices in these caliber races yet this one would be an absolute stunner. I am tossing him out with confidence.

6-Shake Some Action: He is another who makes his graded stakes debut. In looking through his races to date, I see nothing that suggests he figures to really impact in this Derby. Another who I will eliminate from consideration.

7-Sharecropper: His rough return to the races involved a bumpy trip last out. You’s think with that under his belt he can move forward here. I think though he would really have to take a quantum leap to win here. I don’t see it.

8-Royal Act: These are the connections who gave you Storm the Court who pulled off a big surprise win in last fall’s Breeders Cup Juvenile. He ran a strong second to a highly-regarded Bob Baffert runner Thousand Words who flopped in the San Felipe in his last out. I do like that these connections bring their regular rider of this horse to New Orleans and that to me inspires confidence for anyone who is price hunting. He has been working very well for this and is a darkhorse here.

9-Portos: This horse will not have Irad Ortiz aboard due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ortiz announced Thursday that he is taking a brief sabbatical from riding because of it. As of this writing, I have not heard who will replace him so keep an eye on that. As for what this horse’s chances are, note that Todd Pletcher has won this race on multiple occasions and ships in looking for glory here. Portos ran a pretty good third in the Withers in his last out, and the pace flow could play into his hands. An interesting overlay for me in this spot so he’s one to consider.

10-Enforceable. In analyzing this guy’s chances, I feel he deserves to be the morning line favorite. As with the other closers here, he will have to work out a good trip. Yes, the potential fast pace figures to help his type but one negative – and maybe I am nitpicking – is that his rider Julien Leparoux has fallen on his face in these type of races. Still, I think he at the very worst gets into the exotics, mainly the back end of the superfecta.

11-Ny Traffic: We have another one will not have his assigned rider due to the coronavirus since Luis Saez will not fly into New Orleans to ride this guy. It would have been interesting to see Saez on board because this horse would have probably been the speed of the speed in the race. However, he did draw a wide post that might hurt him here. If he can gain early position, he can be around late but that remains to be seen. I believe he is a fringe contender.

12-Lynn’s Map: This guy’s form and speed figures suggest he does not measure up but he does have the connections who won last year’s Preakness going for him. I suspect that this horse will get bet down from his 30-1 morning line but don’t think I am going to use him.

13-Silver State: I wish this guy would have drawn a better post, yet when I say that I also realize his 6-1 morning line would be considerably lower. I sure hope his price sits right where it is because he has lethal connections going for him. He makes that third start off the layoff but he was compromised in his last due to a lone leader in Mr. Monomoy. Overall, the pace scenario here favors him so I believe he has a big chance despite the draw.

14: Modernist: What we do not know about this guy is how good can he be. He answered the call in winning the second division of the Risen Star in his last out, after dominating maidens at Aqueduct two starts back. He is another who appears to be one who has to be forwardly placed for success. Yet I would be inclined to think if they can draft off the speed with a good position, let us see how it works out. I think he merits a chance but one tough to gauge.

My Selections

1-Silver State: Feeling strongest about this one. He has been working well coming into the race, and his connections are people I trust on this stage.

2-Royal Act: The only real concern is that wide gap in between races but I feel he can really run big. He is my price play here and definitely one who I am including in my exactas.

3-Enforceable: His credentials suggest that he belongs and that he will be heard from late. Another one who I plan on including in any wagers.

4-Wells Bayou: Another price play who i will stick in my exotics and multirace wagers. His connections are ones who have quickly built a good resume nationally.

In closing: Although the circumstances are quite unusual, nevertheless it ought to be a fun day of racing on the biggest day of the season at the Fair Grounds. Before the real racing begins, you can hear me Saturday morning on NASH ICON 106.1 FM New Orleans on the Three Tailgaters Show with Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels as I attempt to build a bankroll for my good friend Ed heading towards the September edition of the 2020 Kentucky Derby (so odd to type that).

Under normal circumstances I would make every effort to be at the Fair Grounds but I will be in the comfort of my home partaking in the action courtesy of the Fox Sports Networks and NBCSN. All I am missing is a good pizza and a Pepsi but that problem will be fixed on Saturday. As I always say in departing, may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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