Track Phantom Holds Court as Eight Enter Lecomte 

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  • 20-10-6-4-2 Derby and Oaks Points are on the line at Fair Grounds as the Lecomte and Silverbulletday signal next stage of Derby and Oaks preps
  • Track Phantom looks to repeat dominance over Nash in the $200,000 Lecomte (G3)
  • After finishing second to stablemate in the Untapable, West Omaha tabbed $150,000 Silverbulletday favorite
  • Saturday’s “All Stakes” Late Pick Five will be seeded with a $250,000 guaranteed pool 

New Orleans, La (January 16, 2024) – After stepping up from his maiden victory to score in December’s Gun Runner, L and N Racing, Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom, and Breeze Easy’s Track Phantom looks to hold form in Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) and reassert his dominance over Godolphin’s Nash. Run over 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the Lecomte signals the next stage of prep races on the road to the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) presented by Woodford Reserve to be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 4. 

The finale of 13 races carded on Saturday’s “Road to the Derby Day,” the Lecomte attracted a field of eight 3-year-olds. Post time is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (all times Central). Forty-two points will be awarded to the top five finishers (20-10-6-4-2). The 9-5 morning line favorite Track Phantom enters with 10 points. Nash has earned 3 points and his stablemate, Awesome Road, has 1.

Recent Lecomte history will be well-represented on Saturday. In 2023 Brad Cox won the Kentucky Derby prep with Instant Coffee. The year before, Keith Desormeaux saddled longshot winner Call Me Midnight. Steve Asmussen did it with Midnight Bourbon in 2021, one of three such titles for North America’s all-time winningest trainer. Winning the Lecomte two years in a row, Mark Casse saddled War of Will in 2019 and Enforceable in 2020. Combined, those four are the conditioners behind seven of the eight 3-year-olds in 2024’s 80th running.


Though the public made Nash the overwhelming Gun Runner favorite at 1-2, Track Phantom proved best by 3 lengths and earned the title of 9-5 morning line favorite in their rematch. After pressuring Next Level into submission through opening fractions of :23.61 and :46.93, the Quality Road colt trained by Steve Asmussen took command of the Gun Runner field and held  sway over both Nash and Snead through the stretch.

“It was great to see him win the race against a talented field, but especially with going as fast as they did early and showing enough quality to still respond,” Asmussen said.


Stabled at Fair Grounds, Track Phantom has breezed twice ahead of the Lecomte, going five furlongs in 1:02.00 on Jan. 7 and a half-mile in :50.60 on Jan. 14. The same distances and almost exact times as he posted leading up to the Gun Runner. The Quality Road colt purchased for $500,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale has not lost going two turns.

“I love how he’s doing, very happy with him and how he’s trained since the Gun Runner,” Asmussen said. “I feel good about the draw and excited to run him again. Past success from there so we’ll see what we can do.”

Drawing outside of Nash in the Gun Runner and now the Lecomte, Track Phantom could employ the same tactical advantage from post 7 on Saturday. Aboard for his maiden win, Joel Rosario returns to the irons, replacing Christian Torres. 

On Nov. 12 at Churchill Downs, Godolphin’s Nash utilized his commanding speed and powerful homestretch stride to break his maiden by over 10-lengths going two turns. The son of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Brad Cox earned a 97 Brisnet Speed figure for his second-asking win and because of that was made the third-choice in Kentucky Derby Future Pool #2. 

Stepping up to stakes company for the first time in the Gun Runner, Nash bobbled slightly out of the gates and maneuvered into a tracking position far behind the speedy top pair. Though he measured up Track Phantom at the top the stretch, he was never able to menace and finished third. Drawing post 2 as the 5-2 second choice in the morning line, Nash retains the services of Florent Geroux.  

Last year Cox won three of the four Derby prep races held at Fair Grounds. In pursuit of his second straight Lecomte title, Cox entered two stablemates to face Nash in the Lecomte, as Albaugh Family Stables and Donegal Racing’s Awesome Road and Stonestreet’s homebred Ethan Energy both look to validate their impressive maiden wins. 

The post-time favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Awesome Road could only manage a fifth-place finish. Underperforming his odds in Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) as well, the Quality Road colt broke his maiden on debut as the even-money favorite at Ellis Park over the summer. Jockey Axel Concepcion gets the call to break Awesome Road from the outside gate.

On the Gun Runner undercard, Ethan Energy beat two fellow Louisiana Derby nominees in El Magnifico and Phantom Speed by over five lengths in his first effort going two turns. The Uncle Mo colt will be piloted by Luis Saez, who guided Instant Coffee for Cox in the 2023 Lecomte.

Ken McPeek enters Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Lat Long, who also has unfinished business with Track Phantom. After three show finishes to start his career, the son of Liam’s Map finished second to the Gun Runner winner on Churchill’s “Stars of Tomorrow II” card. 

“(Lat Long) has been a horse who is still trying to figure it out a bit,” McPeek said. “He’s not all there yet. But we’re going to try him at a higher level and see how he handles tougher company.”

Going 1 1/16 miles last out at Oaklawn Park, Lat Long broke his maiden as the odds-on favorite. Pressing and taking over by the third call, the dark bay colt seemed to have the race in hand but proved a touch green and was almost caught in the stretch.

“He just got a little gawky and green in the last part,” McPeek said. “He found himself out front and started to lose some focus. I think he is a horse that is still learning. Like anything it’s a process, but he’s a nice horse and it’s exciting to have a chance in a race like this.” 

Having never finished out of the money in five races, Lat Long will be reunited with Brian Hernandez Jr.

D.J. Stable and Cash is King have decided to see if Can Group’s turf prowess translates to the dirt track. Touting a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and a last-to-first win in the Bourbon (G2), the Good Samaritan colt trained by Mark Casse has put in two local drills, attracting the services of Jareth Loveberry. 

Though he finished a disappointing seventh in the Gun Runner, Don’t Tell My Wife Stables’ Next Level will take another shot at Derby points for trainer Keith Desormeaux. Blinkers will go off for the Vino Rosso colt, as he returns to the rail under his Gun Runner rider David Cohen.

Desormeaux also enters Calumet’s Tizzy Indy, who has three morning drills since trying the turf and finishing third last out. With a maiden claiming victory to his name, the son of Take Charge Indy would need to move forward to be competitive in the Lecomte. James Graham is named to ride.

Six stakes have been carded by racing secretary Scott Jones and his crew for Saturday, including the Lecomte’s sister race, the $150,000 Silverbulletday presented by Fasig-Tipton. The top five in that 3-year-old filly event will earn Kentucky Oaks qualifying points (20-10-6-4-2). Beginning with Marie G. Krantz Memorial (4:00 p.m) and including the Louisiana Stakes Presented By Relyne GI By Hagyard (G3) and Colonel E.R. Bradley, these five stakes comprise an “all stakes” Late Pick Five with a $250,000 guaranteed pool. The Duncan F. Kenner is slated as race 4. First post is scheduled for noon.

Here’s the complete field for the Lecomte from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line): 1. Next Level (David Cohen, Keith Desormeaux, 30-1); 2. Nash (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 5-2); 3. Tizzy Indy (James Graham, Keith Desormeaux, 30-1); 4. Can Group (Jareth Loveberry, Mark Casse, 6-1); 5. Ethan Energy (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 4-1); 6. Lat Long (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ken McPeek, 8-1); 7 Track Phantom (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 9-5); 8. Awesome Road (Axel Concepcion, Brad Cox, 8-1).

West Omaha Eyes Twenty Kentucky Oaks Points in Silverbulletday

  • Untapable runner-up & third place finisher opposed by six fresh faces in 3yo filly tilt

Off a runner-up performance behind her stablemate Alpine Princess in the Untapable stakes four weeks ago, the Gary and Mary West homebred West Omaha has been installed as Mike Diliberto’s 2-1 morning line favorite against seven rivals in Saturday’s Silverbulletday Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton. In addition to the $150,000 purse, the Silverbulletday will offer 3-year-old fillies 20-10-6-4-2 points on the Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks. 

Despite its ungraded status, three of the last ten Silverbulletday winners have later gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks – Serengeti Empress (2019), Monomoy Girl (2018) and Untapable (2014).

In addition to winning with Monomoy Girl, trainer Brad Cox saddled last year’s Silverbulletday victress, The Alys Look. With Untapable winner Alpine Princess awaiting the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton on February 17, race runner-up West Omaha will carry the baton for his stable on Saturday. 

The daughter of West Coast ran into all sorts of trouble in her career debut on September 21 at Churchill. Losing several lengths when crowded at the start, she raced in the clear near the back of the pack. Five-wide off the far turn, the Brad Cox-trainee rallied off heels and finished strongly to be ¾ of a length back in third (placed 2nd following DQ of the winner). Over the same seven-furlong trip in her next start, West Omaha enjoyed a much cleaner start. She made the lead, but despite being pressured every step of the way, she drew off in the end to win by four convincing lengths. 

Off a step or two slow in the Untapable, West Omaha rushed up into a clear, stalking position behind her front-running stablemate, but found herself in an uncomfortable spot between rivals nearing the far turn. Hung five-wide off the far turn, she finished with plenty of energy, but by that time Alpine Princess had given the field the slip. 

Luis Saez will be aboard West Omaha for the first time, and the duo will leave from post six.

Off her third-place finish in the Untapable for trainer Ken McPeek, the Brownwood Farms homebred Sistina Chapel is the 7-2 morning line second choice in the Silverbulletday. McPeek won the 2011 edition of the Silverbulletday with Kathmanblu. 

“She’s going to need to find another gear to get past West Omaha,” McPeek said. “I think she deserves another shot, and it looks like a good spot for her.”

Showing a penchant for positioning herself near the back of the pack, Sistina Chapel ran second in a pair of turf routes to begin her career. The sophomore daughter of Liam’s Map broke her maiden in her first career dirt try on Nov. 11 at Churchill when tracking no further than two lengths back from the leader. In her subsequent race, she found herself near the back early on after an awkward gate exit and finished second behind Alpine Princess. The two renewed acquaintances in the Untapable, and after losing forward positioning ahead of the first turn, the McPeek charge found herself last of six and could get no closer than the five-length margin of defeat, finishing third. 

“I think she can rate without any trouble,” McPeek said.

Reuniting with Corey Lanerie, Sistina Chapel will break from post 7.

Already a five-time winner of the Silverbulletday, trainer Steve Asmussen will send out Whisper Hill Farms’ upstart Perfect Shot on Saturday. Asmussen last won the Silverbulletday in 2021 with La Crete after previously taking the race with Finite (2020), Untapable (2014), War Echo (2009) and Summerly (2005). 

After finishing fourth then second in a pair of elongated sprints at Churchill, the daughter of Gun Runner broke through with her maiden score in her two-turn debut on Nov. 25 under the Twin Spires. Well positioned early in the field of ten, she took over on the far turn, built a comfortable lead, and held firm by 3 ¼ lengths over the next-out-winner Shiloh’s Mistress. After running a 76 Brisnet Speed figure on debut, Perfect Shot has stepped forward with each start, receiving an 83 and then an 88 from Brisnet in her maiden score.  

“I think they all have to earn it, but she came in as a very good prospect,” Asmussen said. “The Gun Runners have shown to get better with time and that’s what we expect from her as well.”

Asmussen’s go-to rider Joel Rosario jumps aboard Perfect Shot for the first time on Saturday, and the duo will leave from the rail. 

The only undefeated filly scheduled to enter the starting gate for the Silverbulletday is Jeffry and Julie Puryear’s Oklahoma-bred Miss Code West. Purchased for just $12,000 as a 2-year-old in training, the Kevin Scholl-trained daughter of Code West has won four consecutive races at Remington Park to begin her career. 

After breaking her maiden at first asking over five furlongs on October 5, she would return just 15 days later to score her first of two consecutive stakes victories against restricted state-bred company. Stepped up into the open Trapeze Stakes for her most recent assignment, she absolutely dominated in the mud, taking the field gate to wire by 6 ¾ lengths under a hand ride. 

Regular rider Floyd Wethey Jr., who has won nearly 1,400 races and is coming off a career-year in earnings, will be back in the saddle and the invaders will leave from post 3. 

With a post time of 4:30 p.m., the Silverbulletday is scheduled as the 10th of 13 races on Saturday’s “Road to the Derby Day” card. The program also features the Lecomte (G3), a points race on the road to the 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, and four other stakes. First post is noon.  

Here is the complete field for the Silverbulletday from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): 1. Perfect Shot (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 4-1); 2. Accommodate Eva (Brian Hernandez Jr., Dallas Stewart, 12-1); 3. Miss Code West (Floyd Wethey Jr., Kevin Scholl, 9-2); 4. Play Good Pay Good (David Cohen, Rob Atras, 15-1); 5. Ma Rae’s Girl (Rey Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill, 8-1) 6. West Omaha (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1); 7. Noriskit Nobiscuit (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 15-1); 8. Sistina Chapel (Corey Lanerie, Ken McPeek, 7-2). 

“All Stakes” Late Pick Five – $250,000 Guaranteed Pool (LOW 15% takeout)

9th race: $100,000 Marie Krantz Memorial – 1 1/16 miles turf, fillies & mares, 4yo’s & up.
10th race: $150,000 Silverbulletday presented by Fasig Tipton – 1 mile 70 yards, 3yo fillies.
11th race: $100,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley – 1 1/16 miles turf, 4yo’s & up.
12th race: $175,000 Louisiana Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard (G3) — 1 1/16 miles turf, 4yo’s & up.
13th race: $200,000 Lecomte (G3) – 1 1/16 miles, 3yo’s.



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