The Lecomte Stakes

Saturday at Fairgrounds is the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, a Kentucky Derby qualifying race that awards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.

The field of nine will race at a distance of a mile & 1/16 for a purse of $200,000 dollars. It is the final contest on a card of 14, with a scheduled Post Time of 7:20.

1. SURFER DUDE [ML 15-1] Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez. Trainer: Dallas Stewart. In the Gun Runner Stakes, an ungraded prep for this race, he ran 3rd behind fellow Lecomte starter EPICENTER, finishing 8 1/2 lengths behind. His early speed could not carry him through the 1 1/16 miles in that race and it’s unlikely to help here, even from the rail.

2. UNIFIED REPORT [ML 15-1] Jockey: Corey Lanerie. Trainer: Dallas Stewart. The undefeated Louisiana-bred will get tested for class here. His speed figures are competitive with most of the entrants, but he’s not raced longer than seven-eighths of a mile and this seems a tough spot to make his debut at this distance.

3. PAPPACAP [ML 8-5] Jockey: Joe Bravo. Trainer: Mark Casse. A highly productive 2-year-old season has him atop the early Road To The Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 12 qualifying points. He was 2nd in both the American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. After which he was given a brief rest to begin his 3-year-old season in this race, a race that Casse trained horses have Won two of the last three years. He’s highly experienced at the distance and should be a major factor.

4. TRAFALGAR [ML 5-1] Jockey: Colby Hernandez. Trainer: Al Stall Jr. He registered a highly useful Allowance Victory at Fair Grounds that should pay a dividend here. He was no match for a top 2-year-old in CLASSIC CAUSEWAY last September at Saratoga, but then reeled off Maiden and Allowance Wins. He has improved with each start and can make his presence felt in this spot.

5. EPICENTER [ML 9-5] Jockey: Joel Rosario. Trainer: Steve Asmussen.  He should be a force here after a highly impressive Win on this track in the Gun Runner Stakes. After tiring in his debut at seven furlongs and finishing 6th, he extended to a mile and 1 1/16 miles and Won easily. His connections are solid and that 6 1/2-length victory in the Gun Runner shows that he will be a major player here.

6. CYBERKNIFE [ML 6-1]  Jockey: Florent Geroux. Trainer: Brad Cox. He posted a pair of Maiden Wins, though the first one was wiped out through a disqualification. The second one took place at Fair Grounds, which bodes well for his chances. Trainer, Brad Cox is in great position to Win a second straight Eclipse Award for 2021, so he shouldn’t be ignored here. Even a small step forward off his Maiden Win makes him a threat here.

7. BLUE KENTUCKY [ML 20-1] Jockey: Jareth Loveberry. Trainer: Wayne Catalano.  Another sprinter trying to stretch out. He’s experienced, with six starts and two Wins. Yet a 6th-place finish in his lone race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs dilutes much of the interest in him.

8. CALL ME MIDNIGHT [ML 20-1] Jockey: James Graham. Trainer: Ken Desormeaux. He needed five starts to break his Maiden then Won easily at Churchill Downs going a mile in a breakthrough performance. Then he showed little ability in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and was pointed to this Stakes. He’s training sharply and will be inviting option for the exotics if the price is high enough.

9. PRESIDENTIAL [ML 20-1] Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. He has not raced since a decisive Maiden Win at Indiana Grand back in November. His workouts warrant some interest but this seems a tough spot for a comeback, given the quality of the field and the outside post.

SUMMARY: In the last ten years, three favorites have Won the Lecomte, and four have placed. Only one pacesetter has prevailed but five pace pressers have Won, while closers claimed four Victories.

There is a lot of early speed in this year’s Lecomte, so will the speedy types get into a duel setting it up for a one-run closer?

The Daily Racing Blog is going to pass on the two obvious Win contenders (#3 PAPPACAP, #5 EPICENTER) and go with #4 TRAFALGER and/or #6 CYBERKNIFE on top.

THE PLAY: We’re going to do a Trifecta Key with the #4 and #6 on top of the 2-3-5-8.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.

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