First, let's deal with Giant's Tomb. The son of Awesome Again was the odds on choice in field of five and started confidently from the gate finding a stalking position just off the rail. The leader Looks Purrfect hit fractions of 25.42 and 50.47 as jockey Patrick Husbands watched with a careful eye.
With the far turn approaching Husbands asked the colt for more and he responded by lengthening his strides and meeting the leader. Turning into the stretch Giant's Tomb quickly disposed of Looks Purrrfect and then went to work on his lead striding across the finish line first by two lengths in a time of 1:41.34. The colt galloped out strongly which suggests this horse will have no trouble finding the classic distance of the Queen's Plate.
Giant's Tomb gallops home at Fair Grounds on March 22nd
As Giant's Tomb was crossing the wire, I was simultaneously Tweeting that Hotep had drawn the rail in the Louisiana Derby. It was going to be a tough race regardless for the A.P. Indy colt and this draw makes it that much tougher.
Here's the full field:
$750,000 Louisiana Derby, 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt), 122 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Morning Line Odds
1—Hotep, Patrick Husbands, Mark Frostad, 30-1
2—Mission Impazible, Rajiv Maragh, Todd Pletcher, 8-1
3—Fly Down, Jose Lezcano, Nick Zito, 8-1
4—The Program, Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert, 10-1
5—A Little Warm, David Cohen, Tony Dutrow, 4-1
6—Ron the Greek, James Graham, Tom Amoss, 6-1
7—Discreetly Mine, Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher, 7-2
8—Island Soul, Robby Albarabo, Steve Asmussen, 20-1
9—Stay Put, Jamie Theriot, Steve Margolis, 10-1
10—Wow Wow Wow, John Jacinto, D. Wayne Lukas, 30-1
11—Mister Marti Gras, Shaun Bridgmohan, Neil Pessin, 30-1
12--Backtrack, Shane Sellers, Gary Scherer, 30-1
13—Drosselmeyer, Kent Desormeaux, Bill Mott, 5-1
It is a very tough field - for both horses and handicappers as evidenced by the morning line.
Todd Pletcher's Discreetly Mine, a 3-year-old Mineshaft colt who won the Risen Star Stakes last out will start from post position seven as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite. In seven career starts, the colt has two wins and three seconds to his credit, including runner-up efforts in last year’s Champagne Stakes and Futurity Stakes. He will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
A Little Warm is a good way to describe the odds of the 4-1 second choice. This Stormin Fever colt won the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park followed by a second to speedy D’ Funnybone in the Hutcheson Stakes. David Cohen will ride for trainer Tony Dutrow.
Drosselmeyer, listed at 4-1, quickly became an Internet heartthrob after breaking his maiden in his fourth career start. The Distorted Humour colt, trained by Bill Mott, followed that romp by finishing second to Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star Stakes. Kent Desormeaux gets the call.
Ron the Greek, the come from behind winner of the LeComte, is listed at 6-1. James Graham will be aboard and hoping for a pace battle upfront to chase in the late stages.
Many of these horses head into the Louisiana Derby from the oddly run Risen Star Stakes where Discreetly Mine was allowed an easy six furlongs in 1:13.44. Drosselmeyer worked into contention far too late as a relaxed Discreetly Mine coasted home in 1:44.88.
Surely in a 13-horse field someone will contest the pace forcing Discreetly Mine's jockey Javier Castellano into a decision of whether to take the lead or wait and stalk.
Woodbine patrons will watch this race with great interest. Husbands already has one Sam-Son Farm winner under his belt this week, if Woodbine's leading rider pulls off a red and gold double there will be cheering in the Rexdale grandstand for a race contested hundreds of miles from home.
Mark Frostad and jockey Rob Landry have teamed up often for Sam-Son Farms, but on March 20th the duo narrowly missed a victory with a Stone Farm colt by the name of Trend at odds of 8-1.
Trend chased the pace of wire-to-wire winner The Great McGee, was steadied while trying to find running room at the top of the stretch and then re-rallied late in the stretch as the duo bravely gained on the winner.
This blog wholeheartedly approves of Trend's DEAD HEAT for place with oddly named Santa.
Rob Landry and Trend DEAD HEAT for place at Gulfstream
There are a few recent workouts to report for horses on the early trail towards the 2010 Queen's Plate.
* Who We Gunna Call breezed 4F in 51.20 on the Payson Park dirt on March 21, 2010. Rank 21/31
* Hollinger breezed 3F in 39 on the Payson Park dirt on March 21, 2010. Rank 6/6
* Fastin Bear breezed 4F in 50.20 on the Woodbine dirt training track on March 21, 2010. Rank 9/11
* D's Legend Storm breezed 3F in 38.20 on the Woodbine polytrack on March 21, 2010. Rank 10/13
* Ruhtro breezed 5F in 1.04:00 on the Woodbine polytrack on March 21, 2010. Rank 5/7
Lets end this post with a bit of news from New York. There was an ugly incident in Saturday's third race at Aqueduct which brought strong words from trainer Gary Contessa in this Ed Fountaine report in the New York Post.
Apprentice Angel Serpa was slapped with a 30-days suspension yesterday for "gross careless riding" after an incident in Saturday's third race. Serpa, riding 3-2 Wicked Climb, was dueling for the lead with 7-5 favorite Freudian's Storm to his inside when, heading into the far turn, Serpa dropped his horse over, forcing Freudian Storm to hit the rail, and his rider, Jose Espinoza, to lose his irons. Espinoza was lucky not to fall off. Freudian Storm was eased. Wicked Climb easily finished first but was disqualified to last.
Freudian Storm's trainer, Gary Contessa, was fuming. In an e-mail to NYRA officials, he wrote: "If (Saturday's) third race was a hockey game, that would have been an illegal hit and the person doing the hitting would have served a suspension that has teeth. From the moment they broke from the gate that rider did everything he could to keep my horse in tight.
"(Espinoza) could have ended up in a wheelchair. Now for the horse. He has severe head trauma and is still bleeding out the nose. He was in shock and has a severe concussion.
"To imagine that this jockey, experienced or not, would put my horse and rider in a position where the results could be devastating just to win a race suggests a complete lack of concern for those around him in the pursuit of a few dollars . . . I sincerely hope the punishment fits the crime."
Finally, much has been made of the recent boycott by New York horsemen of Saturday's first race at Aqueduct. The protest was an affront to the failure of Governor David Paterson, among others, to agree on an operator for slot machines at Aqueduct. The battle has been dragging on for a decade. Once again, it was Contessa who spoke out in a recent posting on the Paulick Report
“We are trying to get the attention of Albany to let them know what a catastrophic situation we have with New York racing right now, the political ineptness, the absolute inability to get anything done. We are in support of racing. We had a thousand or more people at Belmont today. We had a big rally and cancelled the first race. We did this the right way. We let NYRA know we weren’t coming long before today.
“Hopefully we can wake somebody up, get the governor out of bed, get him to move, get him to do something, or there is going to be more. There is going to be more. We need to move.
Video of Saturday's protest at Aqueduct
*Updated as of 10Am EST.*
I hope the politicians will recognize the severity of their lack of action over the last decade. There are thousands of jobs at stake for those who work in, and around, the New York State horse racing industry.
I encourage readers to click and view Jay Hovdey's excellent blog on this topic entitled Stand Up.