Here come the big hitters. Kentucky Derby prep races hit the 100-point phase, starting with the $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The Saturday race has a 6:42 p.m. EDT post time, and Louisiana Derby odds can be accessed by nationwide bettors via TVG.
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2023 Louisiana Derby Odds
Although this is a major Derby prep, with even the runner-up (40 points) likely to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, the distance is unique. At 1 3/16 miles, it also is the actual length of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. It is the longest Derby prep race. Bettors will view graduates of this race both in the context of the Kentucky Derby on May 6 over 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs and the May 20 Preaknesss from Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore at 1 3/16 miles.
Here’s a look at the entries and morning line Louisiana Derby odds. They won’t become official until post time, per pari-mutuel betting regulations. If you bet the odds early, your potential payout could shift in either direction, based on wagering in the pool.
|Ricardo Santana Jr
|Brian Hernandez Jr.
1. Shopper’s Revenge (12-1)
Shopping for an upgrade, big time. Looked good in breaking maiden at 1 1/6 miles at Oaklawn and was second in allowance optional claiming in a natural progression up. Connections toss him into the fray and hope that his projected improvement coincides with bigger stakes.
2. Instant Coffee (2-1)
Nice last-to-first victory in the Lecomte, a $200,000 Grade 3, in January. That was over 1 1/16 miles and at this track, a major advantage. This is first appearance since. Goes off as the favorite and it will be interesting to see how he is bet. Roared definitively from the back to prevail in the Lecomte, chasing moderate fractions of 47.19 for the half mile and 1:12.2 for six furlongs. Pace may be a shade quicker here with large field, a plus for a deep closer. But he is in a field of 12, double the size of the Lecomte. Confidence Game, whom he beat in the Lecomte, came back to light up the board as an 18-1 winner in the Rebel Stakes. That put an additional level of pedigree on the race Instant Coffee won.
3. Curly Jack (10-1)
Clocked by three foes in this race back in the Risen Star Stakes. He finished eighth, while Sun Thunder was second. Tapit’s Conquest and Single Ruler also beat him and they face him here. That was his first race back from three-month layoff so he may improve, but how much? Go back one race earlier and he was right there, losing to Instant Coffee by just 1 1/4 lengths in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. If the appearance two races back is indicative of where he runs here, Curly Jack will be in it. If the Risen Star is his barometer, he will not.
4. Sun Thunder (5-1)
Excellent bid at 18-1 to capture the Risen Star Stakes as a closer, falling just short to Angel of Empire. Having done well at 1 1/8, he must make only a modest stretch to get this distance. The Risen Star is a marquee 2023 race leading to this one. It has the highest purse, $400,000. Wants to stalk and be a little closer to the pace than in the last. If he can do that, he has a shot coming for home. Major threat.
5. Disarm (10-1)
After breaking his maiden, registered a second at allowance level for 1 mile. Always competitive. This is a step up and a stretch to 1 3/16 miles over a new surface. He is lightly-raced with eligibility to improve. You can see the long-range potential. He routed eventual Holy Bull winner and Fountain of Youth runner-up Rocket Can at seven furlongs in Saratoga last August. He has been brought along slowly since and while this horse is going to be high quality, is he ready to show that on Saturday? A bet on him marks a hunch that he’s been pointed at this race all along.
6. Kingsbarns (6-1)
Excellent progression. Two races. Two wins. Victory at maiden and then allowance company. Raised eyebrows in last, making a definitive sustained burst from the half-mile pole to take the lead and crush the field at 1-2 over 1 mile and 40 yards at Tampa Bay Downs. Working out strongly since. Hasn’t appeared in the big race that signals him being a threat here, but he may well be significant. Looks to be ascending. Might get the lead. Should be in a lot of tickets.
7. Cagliostro (12-1)
Strong run in an allowance $80,000 race. Looked ready to put the race in his pocket, but Denington surged and caught him two steps before the wire. On a class level, interchangeable with Denington. Both are moving up, but the initial odds convey more respect than the jump would normally indicate. Could indicate the perception of a wide-open race.
8. Single Ruler (15-1)
Was an interested fifth with a late run in the Risen Star at 1 1/8 miles and makes a modest stretch to 1 3/16. Was behind Tapit’s Conquest, who was fourth. Would need an upgrade, but not a huge one.
9. Tapit’s Conquest (10-1)
Strong fourth in the Risen Star with wide trip. Could improve if he gets a ground-saving ride. Connections will hope that this was a better qualifying race for the Louisiana Derby than others. If so, will be in the conversation, especially underneath. Only the barn knows if stretching to 1 3-16 miles is in his favor.
10. Denington (12-1)
Hard to make a case on the win line after Instant Coffee ground him up in the Lecomte. He finished a distant, fading fourth to a foe he must face here. Came back to win an allowance-race thriller, nudging Cagliostro, and will be a good horse to watch at lower-level betting. Contrarians may note one nugget: although he was beaten by Instant Coffee after this effort, his mark of 1:44.41 in a lower-level race is the fastest of anyone at this track at this distance.
11. Jace’s Road (12-1)
Made bold move and flattened out around the home stretch in the Southwest, finishing a routed fifth. It would be easy to surmise he is better suited for 1 mile, rather than 1 3-16 miles. But will be a speed factor and tries to stretch. The question is whether the stretch out is contentious or relaxed. Intriguing.
12. Baseline Beater (20-1)
Finally broke his maiden in fifth try, and at Fairgrounds. Not the profile of a winner here, but connections roll the dice that a win at this track carries into something bigger.
Louisiana Derby Handicapping Tips
What a wonderful conundrum these Louisiana Derby odds are. Winners here are usually in the top four after the first half mile but most of the contenders like to run late. Can the deep closers afford to wait in a race that rewards early positioning? Some of them will have to adjust running styles. Jace’s Road and Kingsbarns could be the early speed, but that’s no lock.
We don’t know who can get this distance, hence the betting mystery. Instant Coffee has three wins, tops in the field, and has the best recent form. On his best, he’s the horse. If he’s not, the field becomes wide open.
Sun Thunder has the best form in the most expensive recent race. In an initial midweek call, I will play at least one exacta box 2-4 and a $0.50 trifecta box 2-4-6-9, allowing a better trip for Tapit’s Conquest. Disarm, the 5, will go in a couple of speculative tickets too.
One of these bets may become heavier on race day but I want to see them in the post parade first. You get the feeling that someone at a price is going to run a big one. But who? Good luck betting Louisiana Derby odds this year!
Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule
The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the remaining 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.
|Points For Top Finishers
|Mar 25, 2023
|Mar 25, 2023
|Jeff Ruby Steaks
|Mar 25, 2023
|Mar 26, 2023
|Apr 1, 2023
|Apr 1, 2023
|Apr 8, 2023
|Apr 8, 2023
|Santa Anita Derby
|Santa Anita Park
|Apr 8, 2023