(Enforceable / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

(Trainer Mark Casse, who will saddle Enforceable in Saturday’s G2 Louisiana Derby / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

John Oxley’s Enforceable, who won the Lecomte (G3) in advance of a second place run behind the recently sidelined Mr. Monomoy in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, has been tabbed as Mike Diliberto’s 7-2 lukewarm morning line favorite over 13 fellow 3-year-olds for Saturday’s $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

Previously run over nine furlongs on dirt, the distance of Louisiana Derby will be run at 1 3/16ths miles for the first time on Saturday. The third and final local prep for the Run for the Roses, the Louisiana Derby is worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers on the Road to the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) presented by Woodford Reserve.

Following a third in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in October for trainer Mark Casse, Enforceable followed up with a somewhat troubled fourth over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in November. Sent to post as the 6-1 fifth choice in Lecomte (G3), the first of three Kentucky Derby preps held in New Orleans, the gray son of Tapit sat behind an honest pace before closing late to win by 1 ½ lengths. He displayed the same late closing kick in the first division of the Risen Star (G2), but the early fractions were much slower, and Mr. Monomoy was able to wire the field.

With 33 Kentucky Derby points already in the bank, Enforceable will break from post ten with jockey Julien Leparoux back aboard.

“I think he’s doing as good, if not better coming into the Louisiana Derby than he was going into the Risen Star,” assistant trainer on the grounds David Carroll said. “He had a good breeze Saturday morning. Ideally, we’d like to have a solid pace in front of us. He’s a horse that gets into a steady rhythm and Julien (jockey Leparoux) has a lot of confidence in him. It’s naturally a stepping stone. As the distances are extended, I think it play even more in his favor.”

Dismissed at odds of 12-1 in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) off just a maiden win at Aqueduct, Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Wygod’s Modernist was forwardly placed every step on the way while down along the rail, and when the dust settled he held off the late charge of Major Fed to score the upset. Anneau d’Or, the even-money favorite, finished ninth.

(Trainer Bill Mott, who will saddle Modernist in the LA Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

“I guess we found out he has a little more natural speed than we thought,” trainer Bill Mott said of the Risen Star performance. “Early from the gate, he put himself in good position. It was also the second time he won going 1 1/8 miles, so he seems to get the distance okay and has plenty of stamina. He’s a lightly raced horse, but every race has been just a little bit better. If you look at it, the progression has been very nice. It hasn’t been drastic but it’s coming a nice even keel. Nothing spectacular, but it’s the way you like to see it. We’re not there yet.”

“Well I think we’ll just try and get over,” Mott said of post 14. “Last time we had the rail trip. This time, we’re probably not getting the rail trip but with that being said, this is a 1 3/16-miles, it’s not 1 1/16-miles or a 1 1/8-miles so we have kind of that Kentucky Derby -type run down to the first turn. It’s maybe not quite as much as the Derby but it still gives him time to get down to the turn and get over a little bit. It gives the first a chance to spread out.”

“Before we even ran him, he was working good,” Mott said of Modernist’s natural talent. “After we ran him the first time, he really began to pick up the pace. In his second race he finished third but his works had already started to improve going into that. Going into his third race, we had some stop and go stuff. We had him in and then he was sick and we had to scratch him and then we had to wait a little while to run him back and break his maiden but everything has gone smoothly since then.”

Quotes > Notes

(Trainer Brad Cox / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Trainer Brad Cox on Risen Star (G2) division one winner Mr. Monomoy (currently sidelined with minor ankle injury) —

“I thought about that (the potential to push back the Kentucky Derby) this morning. For us to make the race, it would have to be pushed back to the fall. If it was, we could definitely have an opportunity to get back into the picture. We will all just have to watch and see what they (Churchill Downs) do.”

Trainer Brad Cox on Wells Bayou, runner-up in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn last out.

“The biggest reason why we chose the Louisiana Derby over the Rebel at Oaklawn is the distance. I just think this horse needs more than a mile and a 1/16th. I know you can look at that on paper and think he got beat late last time going a mile and a 1/16th in the Southwest, but there was a good strong pace up front. He is still learning. He galloped out well that day.”

“He’s a nice horse, very talented. Had a fantastic work on Saturday. He looks well, and is just now going the right direction. The horse has a big shot. I think the pace is going to be a little kinder in the Louisiana Derby opposed to the race yesterday at Oaklawn (the Rebel). I think that is probably the biggest thing. We want to be forwardly placed and I think given the distance, there probably won’t be as much pressure up front. We will know more on Saturday.

“Anytime you sprint these young horses early on, it never hurts to put blinkers on them (Wells Bayou wore blinkers in his last two starts). It depends on what your goals are and where you’re wanting them to be placed. With our program the blinkers early on seem to benefit a lot of horses. When we get around two turns we try to peel them off and get them to shut off and relax down the backside.”

Trainer Brad Cox on Shake Some Action, making his stakes debut off consecutive two-turn wins at Fair Grounds.

“There are some positives with him given the distance and pedigree. He showed up in his recent starts and has won both of his two-turn races at Fair Grounds. I don’t think the distance is going to be an issue at all. He doesn’t have a lot of early speed. I think it’s best to break and let him find his own way around there. Hopefully be in the mix.”

(Trainer Steve Asmussen, who will saddle both Silver State and Chestertown / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

David Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ racing and bloodstock manager, on Lecomte (G3) runner-up Silver State, who also finished third in the first division of the Risen Star (G2).

“He is a big beautiful horse, with an emphasis on big. And I think it has just taken him a while to get fit. Horses like him and other horses who are very efficient in their action and have cardiovascular systems that you just can’t stress them enough in the morning to get totally fit, sometimes it takes them four or five races to get totally fit. Hopefully he’s there now.”

“I saw part of his work the other morning where he worked with (Spendthrift Farm LLC’s) Chestertown, who drew inside him in the Louisiana Derby, and I think he and Chestertown worked and Finite worked and Tenfold, they all worked last Monday. And I watched the videos and I called Steve (Asmussen) and asked him if he had transposed the times that he had sent me. Because Finite had worked 5/8th in like a minute and galloped out in 1:13, and then the time for Silver State and Chestertown was like 1:11 or something. But Chestertown and Silver State looked like they were two-minute licking. They went by the wire and I was like ‘They don’t even look like they’re trying’ but they ended up with the bullet for the day and they looked faster than our other two works. I asked Steve ‘You didn’t transpose these times?” and he said ‘Nope. Aren’t they awesome?’

Assistant trainer on the grounds David Carroll on Lynn’s Map, who defeated Mr. Monomoy in a two-turn allowance earlier in the meet before finishing fifth and sixth respectively in a pair of graded stakes.

“At 30-1 (in the morning line) this horse is not to be forgotten. I’ll take some of that. He’s a very capable horse. He ran a good race in the Risen Star, he just had a terrible trip and his race against Mr. Monomoy wasn’t a fluke. He’s doing really well.”

(Trainer W. Bret Calhoun, who will saddle Mailman Money / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

Trainer Bret Calhoun on Mailman Money, who finished fourth last out in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) in what was his stakes debut.

“Believe it or not, despite what the results say, he has been very slow maturing. It was kind of a pleasant surprise that he won his first two out. He’s been moving forward the whole time. He was about six-wide the first turn of the Risen Star. He did have an opportunity when he turned for home. He couldn’t quite get the job done, but he was only beaten two and a quarter lengths. With a mile and 3/16ths we just hope everyone is pacing nicely and not pushing down too hard too quick. If that’s the case, I don’t think it (the two post) will bother us much. We hope to have good position in the first turn, but in a big field, you just have to worry about saving ground. I think it is going to be a big question for a lot of us. I think that’s why they did extended the distance. It gives everyone a much fairer show. Mailman Money has a big long stride and I think he will get the distance, but until they do it, we are all kind of guessing.

Trainer Bret Calhoun on Mr. Big News (AE), who finished fifth in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) in what was his stakes debut.

“I like him a lot. I think he has improved quite a bit. I think his last race was pretty stinking good. He’s been battling down on the inside on the rail most of his races and really hasn’t loved that position. He galloped out with the winner last race and I think he’s one of those free running type of horses. I think he is going to love the distance.”

(Trainer Greg Foley, who will saddle Major Fed / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Assistant trainer Travis Foley, eldest son of trainer and Louisville native Greg Foley, on Major Fed, who finished second in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) in his stakes debut.

“We are definitely just pleased to be here and part of the process. He’s one that we feel is getting better every race. We think he is still a little green and inexperienced. It’s again the distance we think he will like and we are getting better every day. To earn enough points to make it into the Kentucky Derby would mean everything to my family. You see the whole family here and we have an even bigger support group at home (Louisville).”

“The rail post gives us the shortest way around. Obviously we wouldn’t have chosen the rail. It puts a little more pressure on the break, but we will work it out. We think our horse will run all day. There hasn’t really been a whole lot of pace for him to run at the last couple races, we think we will have more of an honest pace scenario on Saturday. Joel Rosario is a phenomenal rider and getting him on was just the way it worked out. We have had to hop around with jocks and hopefully he likes the way we run and can have a future sticking with our horse. It’s just up to Major Fed now. We are all in it together and having fun. It is just exciting.”

Trainer Peter Eurton on the California invader Royal Act, who finished second behind Thousand Words in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita last out. It was his first dirt start after running on turf in his first two outings.

“We couldn’t have been happier with the way that he ran (in the Lewis). He definitely has trained better on dirt prior to that race and he’s trained well after that race too. We’re very excited about the 21st as long as we can get there and everything continues to go the way it is.”

“In the summertime, he would have some really good days (training on dirt) and then he would have some average days. I just felt he was still maturing with his growth and things of that nature. Everything was sound about him but his workouts were just okay. So that’s why we put him on the grass and then he won and so, okay. He didn’t have that big turn of foot, he just kind of grinded it out so we put him in a turf stakes here at Santa Anita. It was a very fast run race and he kind of ran a little even so we said…okay, he is what he is right now. He couldn’t be training much better on the dirt so we said we have to give this horse a try to have any chance at making a Derby run. He had trained so well on dirt going into that race so we thought we had nothing to lose. He definitely didn’t let us down.”

“I think it was in the early part of Del Mar when Flavian worked him and Mike (Smith) worked him and there were definitely things to like about him. Obviously, it was very early, you’re talking August, late July, and we had a couple setbacks which is why didn’t run until we got back from there. But there were definitely signs that he had talent. He just needed some maturing and to toughen up a bit.”

“(With what’s going on with Coronavirus) all you can do is assume. We’re assuming we’re going to run. It’s been more challenging here with the weather than anything right now. We’ve had so much rain here. We didn’t run on Friday and the main track has been open for joggers and gallopers only. But he had a really good work last week and the week before so fitness is not even a question at all for him. It will come down to getting the trip and being able to beat these talented 3-year-olds.”

“He’s only run three times and we put the blinkers on it and it did help him. He still has a lot of experience to get and there is just a lot of hope on our side.”

(Trainer Todd Pletcher / Photo by Gene McLean)

Trainer Todd Pletcher on Portos, who finished third in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in his stakes debut last out. Pletcher has won the Louisiana Derby four times.

“He’s been training well since (the Withers). We brought him to Palm Beach Downs after that race. We wanted to stay there (Aqueduct) for the Withers because we wanted to keep him at 1 1/8 miles around two turns. So we came down here preparing for this race since then. The Louisiana Derby was attractive because of the 1 3/16 miles distance. My concern is, I don’t see a whole lot of pace in this race either so I’m hoping he’ll get away a little better and get involved a little more than he did last time. But I wish there was a little stronger pace to set up a little better for him. But we’ll have to see how it unfolds and hopefully he shows a little more tactical speed this time.”

“He’s just been a little bit inconsistent. He’s typical of some of the Tapits we’ve been around, he’s sometimes less focused than others. But I think he has the ability to compete with these and certainly think he’ll handle the distance and will appreciate even more distance down the road. Hopefully he shows up and puts forth his best effort and gains some points with a chance to get into the (Kentucky Derby).”

“Without a doubt we always thought this was a horse who would need distance. I mean, I was happy they put the 1 1/8-miles maiden at Saratoga. We don’t generally run too many horses 1 1/8 -miles first time out but we just felt like that was what he was looking for. He actually ran very well in there for a first-time starter (Fourth behind Enforceable, interestingly enough). He’s really shown up and given up a good effort each time.”

With an early first post of 11 a.m. CDT, the 12-race Louisiana Derby Day card will feature eight stakes worth a total of $2.425 million. Run at 1 1/16 miles, the 52nd running of the $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies offers 100-40-20-10 points en route to the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).

As the first leg of their “Road to the Kentucky Derby” coverage, NBCSN will broadcast both the Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby LIVE from 5 to 6 p.m. EDT. Ahmed Fareed, Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss will anchor the coverage.

A pair of nine furlong, high-impact events for older horses are also scheduled on the program – the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Stakes (G2), to be run over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. In addition, four undercard stakes are slated for the lucrative card, including the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass and a trio of Louisiana-bred events – the $75,000 Costa Rising Stakes, a 5½-furlong turf sprint, the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for 3-year-old males at 1 1/16 miles and the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for females at 1 mile and 70 yards.

$1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), 1 3/16 miles, 3yo’s.

Horse Jockey/Trainer ML Derby Pts.

  1. Major Fed Rosario/Foley 8/1        20
  2. Mailman Money G. Saez/Calhoun 15/1      5
  3. Wells Bayou Geroux/Cox 8/1        4
  4. Chestertown Velazquez/Asmussen 15/1      0
  5. Social Afleet Beschizza/Stewart 50/1      0
  6. Shake Some Action Hernandez/Cox 15/1      0
  7. Sharecropper Mena/Stall, Jr. 20/1      0
  8. Royal Act Cedillo/Eurton 10/1      4
  9. Portos Ortiz, Jr./Pletcher 8/1        2
  10. Enforceable Leparoux/Casse 7/2        33
  11. Ny Traffic Saez/Joseph, Jr. 15/1      10
  12. Lynn’s Map Gaffalione/Casse 30/1      0
  13. Silver State Santana, Jr./Asmussen 6/1        14
  14. Modernist Alvarado/Mott 6/1        50
    15ae. Mr. Big News Albarado/Calhoun 20/1      0
    16ae. Farmington Road Castellano/Pletcher 12/1      5