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2011 Lecomte Stakes is the Next Derby Trail Destination


Tapizar (Tapit) made a major splash in the Sham Stakes last Saturday and punters can expect the Kentucky Derby Trail to take another interesting shift this weekend as Fair Grounds hosts the latest edition of the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. While the purses usually don’t start to pick up serious steam until the Holy Bull runs, January Derby Trail victories are all about making statements ahead of the key regional preps and anybody looking to stamp their name over the Louisiana Derby will do well to pull off a score here.

There is $100,000 up for grabs and the race looks set to offer up an interesting combination of stakes winners and stakes-placed company facing off against a selection of talented contenders emerging off the competitive allowance circuit at Fair Grounds. Declarations are not official as of yet, but there are a few probably runners who are worth a gander.

Major Gain (More Than Ready) has been active at stakes level since last September when he emerged off a maiden special weight score at Arlington to tackle the Grade 3 1m Arlington-Washington Futurity. The momentum didn’t last, however, and a fifth place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland was followed up by a show in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill. The Wayne Catalano-trained colt does take a step down for this one and has shown acumen around the distance but this More Than Ready/Seattle Slew cross is still yet to produce a stakes winner on dirt. He may be outclassed by colts coming into their own a little later on in their careers.

A notable addition to our original 2011 Kentucky Derby Power Rankings, Sweet Ducky (Pulpit) is rumored to be aimed at the Lecomte, which looks a much more winnable race than the Holy Bull. Sweet Ducky deserves plenty of respect based on his quality performance on-track, boasting back-to-back scores in a pair of ungraded stakes at Monmouth. What looks most impressive, however, is his blockbuster pedigree with the Pulpit/Storm Cat cross offering up a number of Grade 1 stakes winners. He looks born to route as is inbred to the likes of Mr. Prospector, Secretariat, Gold Digger and Raise a Native. He gets a decent lay-off, un-raced since a fourth in the Delta Downs Jackpot, and he will definitely be in the mix for this one if connections are looking for the win as opposed to the purse on offer in the Holy Bull.

The extremely flashy Thomas Amoss-trained colt Populist Politics (Don’t Get Mad) enters the race undefeated in his two lifetime starts - one of which was a very encouraging score in the Louisiana Futurity on New Years’ Eve at Fair Grounds. He showed a fantastic turn of foot and ability to handle the slop in that ungraded stakes score. This race effectively decides whether he will pursue a routing career with a push towards the Kentucky Derby, but a quick examination of his effort in the Futurity shows an emphatic charge in the slop down the rail from a stalking position – a genuinely gutsy effort. He’s a bigger wildcard than some, but he could make a major statement if he steps up to the distance with as much vigor as he showed in his last race.

Another one to note is the lower-key Herp (Arch) who emerges off a four week lay-off from an allowance level score at Fairgrounds. He is definitely bred to route and is obviously bound to attract some attention as he shares a sire with Classic-winner Blame (Arch). There isn’t a huge amount of information to work with here, other than the fact that he made short work of his opponents, and a step up to Grade 3 doesn’t look out of the question considering he looks bred for distance. Divine Music (Songandaprayer) finished second to Herp in that allowance contest and went on to win his next time out in an allowance/OC in what looked to be a more competitive race.  While Blame is obviously the higher-profile member of a rated cross that has produced 4 dirt stakes winners from 84 runners, he is also closely-related to Pine Island (Arch) who captured the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap at Belmont- another indication that he can handle a longer distance. 

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