An early Kentucky Derby prep – and, perhaps, some gumbo and oysters – all are on the menu in New Orleans Saturday. That’s because an expected 14 hopefuls are going postward in the 1 mile-70 yard Lecomte Stakes for 3-year-olds at the Fair Grounds.

Kentucky Derby hopefuls running in New Orleans
Kentucky Derby hopefuls convene at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. (Image:

The race marks the start of the Louisiana route to the Kentucky Derby May 4 at Churchill Downs. The Lecomte rewards the first four horses crossing the finish line, respectively, with 10-4-2-1 points and goes for a $200,000 purse. The Kentucky Derby uses a point system determining the top 20 horses eligible to enter the starting gate the first Saturday in May.

Plus Que Parfait an Early Favorite

The morning line favorite in the highly competitive race is Plus Que Parfait. He’s breaking from post 12 at projected odds of 9/2. The Point of Entry chestnut is trained by Fair Grounds regular Brendan Walsh with Julien Leparoux in the irons. In four starts, Plus Que Parfait has a win, a second and two third place finishes producing $86,400 in earnings.

Perennial Fair Grounds’ leading trainer and Louisiana native son Tom Amoss is, as usual, expects to be factor in the Lecomte. Amoss has already won this race four times. He’s represented by Roiland. Roiland is breaking from post position seven and pegged at 12/1 on the morning line. The son of Successful Appeal has two wins, a second and a third in four starts with earnings of $77,660. James Graham is named to ride.

The Saturday card also features the Silverbulletday Stakes, a early prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Derby companion race for 3 year-old fillies to be contested Friday, May 3.

Last Year’s Winner Completes $19,000+ Superfecta

Last year’s Lecomte went to California-based speedster Instilled Regard. That win quickly stamped him as a major Kentucky Derby contender, only to see him falter in later Derby run ups, finishing fourth in his final two preps. Virtually ignored in the 2018 Derby at 50/1, Instilled Regard finished a highly respectable fourth to Triple Crown winner Justify  That finish completed a $1 superfecta –first four horses in exact order – that came back at a hefty $19,618.20.

The Louisiana path to the Kentucky Derby continues Feb. 16 with the Risen Star Stakes in which the first four finishes can collect 50-20-10-5 in Derby points. The Louisiana Derby on March 23 – 100-40-20-10 – on the points schedule concludes this path to Kentucky Derby glory.