• Napravnik, Talamo, Borel, Hernandez Among Possible Jockeys
• Unlimited Budget Aims to Continue Fair Ground Oaks-Kentucky Oaks Trend
Risen Star runner-up Code West (21st, 20) and Louisiana Derby fourth (and Lecomte runner-up) Golden Soul (23rd, 14) are pointing to the Kentucky Derby but need defections from the list of current qualifiers to make the field.
Louisiana Derby ninth-place finisher Titletown Five (unranked, 0) is expected to start in the final “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points race, Saturday’s $175,000 Derby Trial (GIII) on Opening Night at Churchill Downs. His owners, which include trainer D. Wayne Lukas and football great Paul Hornung, have already expressed their intention to run back in the Kentucky Derby one week later if they can get in. The Derby trial is worth 20 points to the winner and a $105,000 first-place share of the purse would vault any Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-old without previous points into 21st (ahead of Code West) on the list based on the tie-breaker of non-restricted stakes earnings.
If seven of the above Thoroughbreds broke from the gate it would represent a record number of Fair Grounds horses in the Kentucky Derby. Six 3-year-olds that raced in New Orleans participated in the 2011 Kentucky Derby – Nehro (second), Mucho Macho Man (third), Santiva (sixth), Pants On Fire (ninth), Decisive Moment (14th) and Archarcharch (15th).
The eight Fair Grounds alumni among this year’s Kentucky Derby hopefuls include six who raced in March’s 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby – Revolutionary (winner), Mylute (second), Golden Soul (fourth), Code West (sixth), Palace Malice (seventh) and Titletown Five (ninth). The record for Louisiana Derby runners in the Kentucky Derby is six, set in 1962 (Roman Line finished second in both races, while the Louisiana Derby winner, Admiral’s Voyage, came in ninth in the Run for the Roses).
Already emphasizing the quality of this year’s Louisiana Derby is third-place finisher, Departing, who is not under consideration for the Kentucky Derby but won Saturday’s $750,000 Illinois Derby (GIII) and is now a leading contender for the Triple Crown’s second jewel, the May 18 Preakness Stakes (GI) in Baltimore.
Two of the Fair Grounds horses eyeing the Kentucky Derby are trained by New Orleans natives. Mylute is conditioned by Tom Amoss, a 10-time leading trainer at Fair Grounds. The product of Newman and LSU has had two previous Kentucky Derby starters – Lone Star Sky (15th in 2003) and Backtalk (20th in 2010). Golden Soul is from the barn of Dallas Stewart, who took Louisiana Derby hero Kimberlite Pipe to the Kentucky Derby in 1999, finishing sixth, and has also been represented by Dollar Bill (15th in 2001).
One New Orleans resident is likely to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Three-time Fair Grounds leading jockey Rosie Napravnik – featured in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine and set to appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday – has the mount on Mylute, a horse she rode to an allowance win at Fair Grounds in December.
Also possible to ride in the Kentucky Derby are Catahoula, La., native Calvin Borel, looking for his fourth Kentucky Derby win aboard Revolutionary; New Orleans-born Joe Talamo, named on Santa Anita Derby (GI) fourth Tiz a Minister (22nd, 20); and Lafayette, La., native Brian Hernandez Jr., who could reclaim the mount aboard Golden Soul.
Top Three Fair Grounds Oaks Fillies to Try Kentucky Oaks
Meanwhile, three 3-year-old fillies that raced at Fair Grounds this winter intend to start in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks, the filly equivalent to the Kentucky Derby. Unlimited Budget seeks to become the sixth of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winners to go on to Kentucky Oaks glory, joining Believe You Can (2012), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Summerly (2005) and Ashado (2004). The Fair Grounds Oaks was not run in 2006 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans.
Also among the current Kentucky Oaks probables are Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up Flashy Gray and third-place finisher Seaneen Girl. The Kentucky Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and the top three from the Fair Grounds Oaks are all qualified based on “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby at Fair Grounds and Fair Grounds OTBs
Even with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Kentucky Derby Day, May 4, there are still plenty of opportunities to get your bets down. The Fair Grounds Grandstand OTB is open evenings during Jazz Fest and Kentucky Derby Day pools will be open for Advance Wagering on Derby eve, May 3.
The Fair Grounds Slots facility and Fair Grounds OTB will open to pedestrians via the main Gentilly Avenue gate at 6:30 p.m. on Jazz Fest days and vehicles will be able to access the parking lot via the Horsemen’s Gate on Gentilly Boulevard at 8 p.m.
The Slots and Simulcasting areas will maintain their regular hours – 9 a.m. to midnight weekdays for Slots and 11 a.m. to midnight (or after the night’s final race) for Simulcasting – from April 29 to May 1, the days between Jazz Fest weekends.
All Fair Grounds OTB & Casino locations throughout the metro area will maintain their regular hours every day, including Kentucky Oaks Day and Kentucky Derby Day.
The Fair Grounds OTB & Casino network spans 11 locations throughout Southeast Louisiana: Boutte/Luling, Chalmette, Covington, Elmwood, Gretna, Houma, Kenner, LaPlace, Metairie, Thibodaux and Westwego.
For more information on Fair Grounds OTB & Casino locations and hours, visit FairGroundRaceCourse.com.