2023 LOUISIANA DERBY/FAIR GROUNDS OAKS Key Facts
· This is the 110th running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) for 3-year-olds. It was extended from 1 1/8 miles to 1 3/16ths miles in 2020 and it is the only North American Kentucky Derby run at that distance and it is considered to be the closest simulation to the 1 ¼ miles trip of the Kentucky Derby (Saturday, May 6). The UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai, which is run on the same day, is also contested at 1 3/16ths miles.
· The Louisiana Derby is scheduled as the 12th of 15 races on Saturday, March 25, 2023. First post is noon CT. Scheduled post time for the Louisiana Derby post is 5:42 p.m. CT.
· The Louisiana Derby launches the “Championship Series” on the Road to the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) presented by Woodford Reserve, with 100-40-30-20-10 points awarded to the top five finishers. Longines Kentucky Oaks points will be awarded in the same manor for the 3-year-old fillies in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton, which is race 11 on the card (5:08 p.m. CT). A win or a second place finish on Saturday would nearly assure a spot in the Kentucky Derby/Oaks starting gate.
· Since The Road to the Kentucky Derby points system began in 2013, two Fair Grounds preps — the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby – are tied for producing the most Kentucky Derby starters – 33. The Louisiana Derby has produced two of the last four Kentucky Derby winners – Mandaloun in 2021 (via the disqualification of Medina Spirit following a post-race positive) and Country House (via the disqualification of Maximum Security for interference during the race). Funny Cide, who was second in the 2003 Louisiana Derby, also won the Kentucky Derby as did Grindstone (1996) who remains the only horse to win both.
· Trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Louisiana Derby four times, including last year with Epicenter, who would go on to finish second behind 80-1 upsetter Rich Strike in Kentucky Derby 148. Epicenter also won the Risen Star (G2), Jim Dandy (G2) and the Travers (G1) and he was later named 3-year-old Eclipse Award champion. Asmussen also won in 2016 with Gun Runner, one of the top earning Thoroughbreds of all-time who has recently made a splash as a stallion, in 2008 with Pyro and with Fifty Stars in 2001. He’s represented by a pair of upstarts in Saturday’s race in Shopper’s Revenge (post 1 at 12-1 ML) and Disarm (post 5 at 10-1 ML). On February 20, Asmussen became the first only trainer in North America to reach the 10,000 win plateau.
· Trainer Brad Cox has swept the trio of local preps leading up to the 2023 Louisiana Derby, winning the Gun Runner with Jace’s Road, the Lecomte (G3) with Instant Coffee and the Risen Star (G2) with Angel of Empire. Both Jace’s Road (post 11 at 12-1 ML) and Instant Coffee (post 2 and the 2-1 ML favorite) are back for the Louisiana Derby, along with Tapit’s Conquest, who was recently a very competitive 4th in the Risen Star. With four wins on the card, Cox joined the 2,000 win club on Risen Star Day. Cox won the 2020 Louisiana Derby with Wells Bayou.
· Todd Pletcher has won the Louisiana Derby four times – Noble Indy in 2015, Revolutionary in 2013, Mission Impazible in 2010 and Circular Quay in 2007. On Saturday he will be represented by Kingsbarns (post 6 at 6-1 ML), who is undefeated in two starts.
· The only other trainer participating in this year’s race who has won a Louisiana Derby is Ken McPeek, who did it way back in 2001 with Repent. He has Sun Thunder (post 4 at 5-1) and Denington (post 10 at 12-1) entered on Saturday.
· Jockey Joel Rosario has ridden the last two winners of the Louisiana Derby – Epicenter in 2022 and Hot Rod Charlie in 2021. Only two other jockeys participating in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday have won the race previously: Florent Geroux (2) – 2016 with Gun Runner and again in 2020 with Wells Bayou (rides Jace’s Road this year) and Brian Hernandez, Jr. – 2017 with Girvin (rides Sun Thunder this year).
· To speak to the strength of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby – seven of the 12 horses entered were offered in Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool 5 (closed March 12) – Instant Coffee (19-1), Sun Thunder (33-1), Kingsbarns (43-1), Disarm (60-1), Tapit’s Conquest (90-1), Cagliostro (189-1) and Denington (241-1). Brad Cox and Todd Pletcher led all trainers with each having six horses offered in pool 5.
Here is the complete field for the Louisiana Derby from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):
1. Shopper’s Revenge (Ricardo Santana, Steve Asmussen, 12-1)
2. Instant Coffee (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1)
3. Curly Jack (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 12-1)
4. Sun Thunder (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Ken McPeek, 5-1)
5. Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 10-1)
6. Kingsbarns (Flavien Prat, Todd Pletcher, 6-1)
7. Cagliostro (Christian Torres, Cherie DeVaux, 12-1)
8. Single Ruler (David Cohen, Keith Desormeaux, 15-1)
9. Tapit’s Conquest (Manny Franco, Brad Cox, 10-1)
10. Denington (Junior Alvarado, Ken McPeek, 12-1)
11. Jace’s Road (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 12-1)
12. Baseline Beater (Corey Lanerie, Neil Pessin, 20-1)
Louisiana Derby past performances courtesy of Brisnet
· Steve Asmussen has won the Fair Grounds Oaks four times including last year with Echo Zulu. She was ridden by Joel Rosario, who will guide Christian d’Oro (post 2 at 15-1) for the barn on Saturday. Asmussen scored the FG Oaks/KY Oaks double with Untapable in 2014 and Summerly in 2005. His other FG Oaks winner was Lady Tak in 2003.
· Brad Cox won the Fair Grounds Oaks in back-to-back years – 2020 with Bonny South and 2021 with Travel Column. He has The Aly’s Look (post 4 at 2-1 ML) this year.
· Trainer Tom Amoss has an interesting history in the Fair Grounds Oaks. He won the 2018 edition with Chocolate Martini, a filly he claimed just six weeks prior for just $30,000. In 2020, his Serengeti Empress ran 7th in the FG Oaks as the favorite, but returned to win the Kentucky Oaks at 13-1. On Saturday he will saddle the enigmatic Hoosier Philly (post 5 at 2-1), who was undefeated from three starts prior to her disappointing third place finish in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) last out.
· Despite her disappointing effort in the Rachel Alexandra, Hoosier Philly closed as the 7-1 third choice in the lone Kentucky Oaks Future Wager Pool that closed on March 12. Fellow Fair Grounds Oaks competitors Pretty Mischievous (15-1) (post 3 and the 8-5 ML FG Oaks favorite), The Alys Look (36-1) and Southlawn (147-1) (post 1 at 8-1) were also offered in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wagers.
Here is the complete field for the Fair Grounds Oaks from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):
1. Southlawn (Rey Gutierrez, Norm Cassie, 8-1)
2. Christian d’Oro (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 15-1)
3. Pretty Mischievous (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Brendan Walsh, 8-5)
4. The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1)
5. Hoosier Philly (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 2-1)
Fair Grounds Oaks past performances courtesy of Brisnet