Are you ready? The Road to the Kentucky Derby heats up in a big way with Saturday’s running of the $1 million dollar Louisiana Derby at Fairgrounds.
The 1 3/16-mile, Grade 2 race awards a total of 170 Derby qualification points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis, which essentially guarantees both the Winner and the runner-up a spot in the gate for the 2022 Run For The Roses.
The Louisiana Derby can be a tricky race to analyze, but fortunately, history can help with your handicapping. Studying the historical results of Graded Stakes can reveal trends and tendencies common among past Winners, which in turn gives clues to identify future Winners.
With this in mind, here’s five verified Winning trends/angles from the last ten years of the Louisiana Derby.
TACTICAL SPEED IS AN ASSET It pays to show speed in the Louisiana Derby. Eight of the last 10 winners were racing in the top four after the opening half-mile, including three Winners (HOT ROD CHARLIE, WELLS BAYOU and VICAR’S IN TROUBLE) who were in front at that point in the race.
In contrast, the last decade has seen only two Louisiana Derby Winners (INTERNATIONAL STAR and REVOLUTIONARY) rallied from the back half of the field after the opening half-mile.
MIX FAVORITES AND LONGSHOTS Generally speaking, the Louisiana Derby tends to be a predictable race. Five of the last ten Winners started as the betting favorite, while another three Winners started at less than 4-1. You definitely want to include the favorite in the Superfecta, because the top betting choice has finished on the board in eight of the last 10 years.
But from time to time, strange things happen in the Louisiana Derby. HERO OF ORDER comes to mind when he famously sprung a 110-1 upset in 2012. BY MY STANDARDS had his picture taken in 2019 at 23-1. TOM’S READY finished 2nd at 31-1 in 2016, while MYLUTE in 2013 was runner-up at 19-1, and NY TRAFFIC battled to 2nd place at 27-1 in 2020.
So if your bank allows, mix the favorites with longshots you like at big prices. You might just identify an overlooked Winner or runner-up, triggering lucrative payoffs.
BET PROVEN GRADED STAKES HORSES The Louisiana Derby doesn’t play kindly toward up-and-comers without Stakes experience. Five of the last 10 Louisiana Derby Winners had previously Won a Graded Stakes, while another four had cracked the top four in a Graded Stakes.
During the same timeframe, only one horse without Graded Stakes experience — the Maiden Winner BY MY STANDARDS— has managed to claim top honors in the Louisiana Derby. It’s always tempting to think outside the box and support untested Maiden and Allowance types with the potential to develop into stars, but recent history suggests doing so in the Louisiana Derby isn’t a Winning strategy.
WATCH OUT FOR TODD PLETCHER Trainer Todd Pletcher doesn’t start horses at Fair Grounds very often, but he’s certainly been successful in the Louisiana Derby. The Hall-of-Famer has Won the race four times since 2007, and along the way he’s also saddled four 2nd-place finishers. They haven’t all been short prices either; MISSION IMPAZIBLE Won at 7-1 odds in 2010, and STANFORD finished 2nd by a neck at 7-1 in 2015.
LOCAL RUNNERS TEND TO PREVAIL Generally speaking, horses with experience at Fair Grounds have an advantage in the Louisiana Derby. Six of the last 10 Winners previously raced in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, including three horses who Won both races. Another Louisiana Derby Winner- BY MY STANDARDS, exited a Maiden Victory at Fair Grounds.
On the other hand, the last two Louisiana Derby Winners (GUN RUNNER, WELLS BAYOU) Won the contest while racing at Fair Grounds for the first time. They both had previously Won against Graded Stakes competition, so they didn’t exactly sneak up on anyone in the Louisiana Derby.
On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at the field for this years edition of the Louisiana Derby. So stop back and see who we like.