Fast Track

Epicenter returns in Lecomte

New Orleans Fair Grounds Racetrack Photo: TheFreePPs.com

The Road to Kentucky Derby 2022 continues in New Orleans at Fair Grounds with the $200,000 G3 Lecomte Stakes when Epicenter takes on 8 others in 1 1/16 mile race for 3-year-olds.

Lecomte Stakes Odds, Analysis, Free PPs (See Cyberknife below)

Here’s the field from the rail out with morning line odds, jockey, trainer, and comments.

  1. Surfer Dude (15-1), R Gutierrez, Dallas Stewart – Hung on for third by a head in the Gun Runner after setting the early fractions through a half-mile. Has the rail going for him but twice beaten by Epicenter will make it difficult for him to get his second lifetime win.
  2. Unified Report (15-1), C Lanerie, Dallas Stewart – Trainer has entrants in the two inside post positions. Undefeated in three career starts, he’s a Louisiana bred who won a restricted race at Churchill in his debut. Runner up horse from last came back to win the Louisiana Futurity on New Year’s Eve but failed to fire going 1 mile in an allowance here in his next out. Going two turns for the first time in a tough spot.
  3. Pappacap (8-5), J Bravo, Mark Casse – Sits atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 12 points by virtue of the CDI ruling which doesn’t consider any Baffert horses eligible for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Twice defeated by Baffert’s Corniche in back to back G1 races, this son of Gun Runner will most likely be second choice when the morning line odds are released later in the week.
  4. Trafalgar (5-1), C Hernandez, Al Stall, Jr. – Columbine Stable was willing to pay twice the average for this Lord Nelson progeny in the sales ring. And so far, he’s rewarded them with two wins and a second in three starts. His two back maiden victory was a deep closing effort going 1 mile at Churchill as the heavy favorite from the 10 hole. Won last time out here going two turns for the first time racing on the pace. Taking a big step up for high percentage connections.
  5. Epicenter (9-5), J Rosario, Steve Asmussen – Won the Gun Runner here last month in preparation for today’s Road to the Derby prep race. Rosario was aboard for maiden score two back at Churchill going 1 mile and Asmussen lures him back to the saddle for this next test of his talent for the Derby Trail. Hard not to see him the eventual victor in here but Surfer Dude wasn’t much of a challenge in his last two.
  6. Cyberknife (6-1), F Geroux, Brad Cox – Blinkers go back on for his 4th career start. He’s been the odds on favorite in each of his three starts including a first out victory at Churchill from which he was ultimately DQ’d. Unofficially, he’s a two-time winner. Officially, he won his last race here when he outlasted eight others going to turns for the first time off a 60 day layoff. Cox doesn’t enter them without a shot.
  7. Blue Kentucky (20-1), J Loveberry, Wayne Catalano – Twice a winner when racing through NW2L conditions. Connections stepped him up to finish third sprinting in the Sugar Bowl last time out. Would be a shocker in his first two-turn race against these.
  8. Call Me Midnight (20-1), J Graham, Keith Desormeaux – Graham was aboard for his 1 mile maiden score at Churchill two back. Beat Surfer Dude three back at Keeneland. He was 7 wide in 7th last time out in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club behind Smile Happy who is 5th on the leaderboard. Worth a serious look for a piece at a price.
  9. Presidential (20-1), B Hernandez, Steve Asmussen – Courtlandt Farms paid $625,000 at the Keeneland September sale for this Pioneer of the Nile homebred. That’s nearly three times the average for POTN progeny. Was 4th in his debut at Indiana Downs going 1 mile. And took his next out with ease in the Hoosier State. Hernandez will get the leg up here for Asmussen after being replaced by Rosario on Epicenter.

Post time for the Lecomte is scheduled for 6:20 PM ET and will go as the final race on the 14 race card for Saturday, January 22, 2022 at Fair Grounds.