Discreetly Mine Installed as 7-2 Favorite for Saturday's Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby
E Paul Robsham Stable’s Discreetly Mine, wire-to-wire winner of the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 20 as the final major local prep for Saturday’s 97th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby, has been tabbed as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite in a field of 13 for this renewal based on his length and a half victory in that last test.
With its increased purse of $750,000 this year, Saturday’s seasonal showcase event at Fair Grounds will be the richest Thoroughbred race ever run at the historic New Orleans oval, and will also be the first time the local classic has been run at a mile and eighth since 1987. The Louisiana Derby will be run as Race 10 at 4:48 p.m. CDT on a 13-race program with six stakes—also including the Grade II New Orleans Handicap and the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap—and a first post of 12:10 p.m. CDT. A special $125,000-Guranteed All-Stakes Pick Four will be offered on Races 7-10.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who saddled Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay to win this race three years ago, Discreetly Mine will be ridden once again by Javier Castellano, who was also aboard for the Risen Star. In his previous test in Gulfstream’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 9, the son of Mineshaft bobbled at the start, got bumped on the turn and eventually finished fourth. As a 2-year-old last year, the homebred colt finished second in Belmont’s Grade II Futurity and Grade I Champagne Stakes.
Capable of providing strong competition for Discreetly Mine is Edward Evans’ A Little Warm, second choice in the morning line at 4-1. Trained by Tony Dutrow, the homebred broke his maiden by 10 1/2-lengths last fall at Philadelphia Park, won Gulfstream’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes by a length and a half Jan. 9 and then finished second beaten a length in the Grade II Hutcheson at that same oval Feb. 20 after racing four-wide on the turn. Jockey David Cohen gets the riding assignment.
Not to be discounted in the Louisiana Derby is WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer, fourth in the Risen Star when the victim of a slow pace but beaten less than two, and an impressive winner in first-level allowance company at Gulfstream Jan. 31. The son of Distorted Humor, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, began his career on grass without success but broke his maiden by six lengths at Churchill Downs last fall in a race that was taken off the turf and run on the main track. Regular rider Kent Desormeaux returns in the irons aboard Drosselmeyer, pegged as the 5-1 third choice in the morning line.
Jack Hammer’s Ron the Greek, winner of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 23 as the first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore series, was also compromised by the slow pace of the Risen Star and finished sixth. The Tom Amoss trainee is the fourth choice in the Louisiana Derby morning line at 6-1 and has James Graham slated for the saddle.
Twin Creek Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible is a second Todd Pletcher trainee in the Louisiana Derby and is 8-1 in the morning line after finishing fourth in Oaklawn Park’s Grade III Southwest Stakes Feb. 20. The son of Unbridled’s Song was third in the Grade III Kentucky Juvenile last fall at Churchill Downs and will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh.
Also at 8-1 in the Louisiana Derby morning line is Richard Pell’s Fly Down, trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito. Another son of Mineshaft, Fly Down rallied three-wide in a nine-furlong first level allowance race at Gulfstream in his only start this year on Feb. 21 and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano. The Zito-Lezcano tandem upset Saturday’s Florida Derby with Ice Box at 20-1.
Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Stay Put, fifth in the Risen Star Stakes but an impressive winner in first-level allowance company before that on Jan. 3, is 10-1 in the morning line but hails from the barn of red-hot conditioner Steve Margolis and has Jamie Theriot, leading rider here two seasons ago, listed in the tack.
Also 10-1 in the morning line is the Bob Baffert-trained The Program, owned by Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable. The Program finished third in Santa Anita’s Grade III Sham Stakes March 6 at the Louisiana Derby distance of a mile and an eighth and won his previous start there in first-level allowance company. Corey Nakatani will journey here for the mount.
Completing Saturday’s Louisiana Derby field is Stonestreet Stable’s Island Soul, Robby Albarado up (20-1); Sam-Son Farms’ Hotep, Patrick Husbands (30-1); Marylou Whitney Stables’ Wow Wow Wow, John Jacinto (30-1); Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, Shaun Bridgmohan (30-1); and Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Backtrack, Shane Sellers (30-1).
New in the conditions of this year’s Louisiana Derby and worthy of note is the fact that any horse that starts in both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby and finishes first, second or third in either of the two races will have its $25,000 starting fee waived for the Kentucky Derby.
Here's the complete fields, in post position order, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, owner, weight assignment and morning line odds):
1. Hotep (Patrick Husbands, Mark Frostad, Sam-Son Farms, 122, 30-1)
2. Mission Impazible (Rajiv Maragh, Todd Pletcher, Twin Creeks Racing Stable, 122, 8-1)
3. Fly Down (Jose Lezcano, Nick Zito, Richard C. Pell, 122, 8-1)
4. The Program (Corey Nakatani, Bob Baffert, Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, 122, 10-1)
5. A Little Warm (David Cohen, Tony Dutrow, Edward P. Evans, 122, 4-1)
6. Ron the Greek (James Graham, Tom Amoss, Jack T. Hammer, 122, 6-1)
7. Discreetly Mine (Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher, E. Paul Robsham Stables, 122 , 7-2)
8. Island Soul (Robby Albarado, Steve Asmussen, Stonestreet Stables, 122, 20-1)
9. Stay Put (Jamie Theriot, Steve Margolis, Richard, Bertram & Elaine Klein, 122 , 10-1)
10. Wow Wow Wow (John Jacinto, D. Wayne Lukas, Marylou Whitney Stables, 122, 30-1)
11. Mister Marti Gras (Shaun Bridgmohan, Neil Pessin, Lothenbach Stables, 122, 30-1)
12. Backtrack (Shane Sellers , Gary Scherer, Al & Bill Ulwelling, 122, 30-1)
13. Drosselmeyer (Kent Desormeaux, Bill Mott, WinStar Farm, 122, 5-1)